Electrical systems integrator Alewijnse has completed the comprehensive electrical refit of the privately-owned research vessel OceanXplorer at the Damen Shiprepair Rotterdam shipyard. Owned by OceanX, the expedition ship is renowned as the world’s most advanced exploration and research vessel.

Non-profit organisation OceanX aims to scientifically study and explore the ecosystems of the world’s oceans using the newly-refitted OceanXplorer, with the aim of protecting and preserving vulnerable ocean environments.

The ship is fully equipped with two submersibles, instruments for conductivity, temperature and depth (CTD) measurements and sample collection, and a remote operating vehicle for filming underwater and taking samples from the seabed. On board, there are also laboratories and a complete film set for live broadcasts of new discoveries, including those for the BBC.

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Installing high-tech systems

Alewijnse played a crucial role in installing the high-tech systems on board the OceanXplorer. One of the highlights was the far sounder, essential for iceberg detection during operations in polar regions. Other stand-out features include advanced underwater lighting systems, an alarm and monitoring system, and installations for telephone communication between the ship and submarines.

Alewijnse also integrated innovative lighting control and light temperature regulation systems for filming purposes, as well as an ECDIS (Electronic Chart Display and Information System). To support these systems, a comprehensive network of approximately 240 km of cabling was installed on board.

Alewijnse at work on board the OceanXplorer

Alewijnse technical project manager Erik van de Kamp: ‘Our greatest strength lies in installing complex systems and integrating all the equipment on board. We have interconnected various complex systems for science, film, AV-IT (Audio, Visual, and Information Technology), and data networking. We have also transformed lighting design into a functional lighting control system. Additionally, we have completely renovated the accommodation and performed various maintenance works.’

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Three vessel types in one

‘It was a complex, specialised project because the OceanXplorer combines characteristics of an offshore vessel, a scientific research vessel, and an eco-tourism cruise ship,’ adds Joachim Kieft, project manager at Damen. ‘Damen and Alewijnse collectively possess extensive experience with all three vessel types.’

‘For Alewijnse, it began as a minor refit in 2018 and we did not initially realise the scale of the project that we were about to undertake,’ Van de Kamp states. ‘It gradually grew into an enormous undertaking in three phases, finally completed in the summer of 2023. The unexpected changes and the expanding scope presented the biggest challenges. We had to quickly engage the right people and a complex project like the OceanXplorer is not something we encounter every day. It certainly brought its share of challenges. Nevertheless, through excellent collaboration with Damen Shipyards and OceanX, we have delivered a fantastic project.’

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