New Research Vessel for Virginia Institute of Marine Science
A new research vessel for the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) has completed sea trials and is transiting to its home port in Virginia.
The new vessel, the R/V Virginia, will support the institution’s fisheries research projects and greatly expand VIMS’ capability to perform general oceanographic research in the Chesapeake Bay as well as mid-Atlantic coastal waters. Interest in the new research vessel is already growing rapidly as next season is almost fully booked with science cruises.
The 93-foot vessel was built by Meridien Maritime Reparation. JMS Naval Architects performed the concept through contract-level design and provided technical support during construction and sea trials. JMS designed the vessel to operate as an uninspected research vessel with an ABS Loadline. The design offers flexibility in science outfitting allowing for high utilization and affordable operating day rates. The vessel is easily adaptable to evolving scientific research areas such as offshore oil and gas exploration surveys, wind energy development surveys, environmental impact studies, and the servicing of ocean observing systems.
Main propulsion is provided by a pair of 660 BHP tier III Cummins QSK 19M engines coupled to a Finnoy 2G27-42FK two–in/one-out marine gear driving a Finnoy 5 blade, 1.95 meter diameter controllable pitch propeller. The propeller turns inside of a Rice thrust nozzle with triple rice rudders for steering. This unique arrangement will provide the capability to operate the vessel efficiently on a single propulsion engine when on station or during slow speed transits. This will reduce overall engine hours and improve fuel efficiency, minimizing its environmental footprint. The gearbox also powers a very robust hydraulic system via two independently clutched PTO’s, to support the suite of deep water trawl winches and bow thruster. The electrical system is comprised of a pair of 99 ekW Kohler 99EOZCJ generators which provide redundant capability or can be run in parallel during peak power demands. LED lighting will reduce both power consumption and heat emitted into the accommodation spaces.
A Veth VCG-750 pump jet omnidirectional flush mounted grid bow thruster in combination with the controllable pitch propeller and triple rudders provide excellent maneuverability. The vessel’s capabilities are further enhanced by a state-of-the-art Beier Radio IVCS 4000 dynamic positioning system. The dynamic positioning system has been demonstrated to provide excellent station keeping.
The vessel makes use of a beam of 28’, relatively low vertical center of gravity and underwater hull form attributes including the propeller nozzle, triple rudders, twin skegs mounted outboard and the single chine hull form to provide high initial stability and significant roll dampening to impart stability characteristics of a larger vessel. Early indications are that the vessel is a very stable work platform in both head and beam seas. Measures were also taken to ensure an acoustically acceptable working environment on board the vessel for scientists and crew. The propulsion engines and generators and their respective exhaust systems are resiliently mounted and acoustic material treatments throughout the vessel minimize noise and vibration levels.
Oceanographic outfitting includes large Wet and Dry Labs which have been designed for maximum flexibility to accommodate the many types of science that the vessel is expected to conduct. The 1,000 square foot main working deck allows for a 20-long-ton science payload and provides a significant working platform for conducting fishing operations, over-the-side sampling and coring activities. There is also ample room and services to install a 20-foot science van for specialized science missions. The new research vessel take’s advantage of the latest technology through transducer fairings prepared to receive an extensive array of acoustic instrumentation for the gathering and processing of data in support of fisheries research, oceanography, and geophysical sciences. A full size server rack, with dedicated closed loop cooling and UPS power supply has been fitted to the dry lab in anticipation of the requirements of scientific users.
The aft deck is fitted with a stern A-Frame with an 8,000 lb safe working load for over the stern lifting operations and a side mounted J-Frame with an 4,000 lb safe working load for conducting CTD operations. Hawboldt Industries provided the oceanographic weight handling and fishing gear including the trawl net reels, a pair of trawl winches with 4,000 lb linear pull with 355 fathoms of 3/8” wire to support bottom trawl surveys, an electric CTD (Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth) winch with 2,000 m of 0.322” wire and a knuckle boom deck crane with a 2,240 lbs capacity at a 33-foot reach. The lifting equipment excluding the CTD winch are powered by a redundant electro hydraulic HPU.