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CSSC launches new geophysical research and survey vessel

Image 1 Design rendering of the new geophysical comprehensive research and survey vessel Experiment 6On 18 July, the geophysical research and survey vessel Shiyan 6 (Experiment 6) was launched. Experiment 6 was built by China State Shipbuilding Corporation’s (CSSC) Huangpo Wenchong Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. It was designed and developed by the China Ship and Ocean Engineering Design and Research Institute at the Marine Design and Research Institute of China (MARIC) for the South China Sea Institute of Oceanography, Chinese Academy of Sciences (SCSIO).


Experiment 6 is expected to be delivered at the start of 2021. Once it begins its commission, it will become the main scientific research platform for SCSIO, providing advanced mobile marine laboratories and detection equipment for China’s marine science research and study of extreme deep- sea environments. Joining a comprehensive range of research and specialised survey vessels, it will jointly support the development of China’s marine deep-sea scientific facilities.


The ship is a next-generation 3,500dwt geophysical research vessel designed by MARIC for SCSIO, developed 40 years after its predecessor Experiment 3 and fills the current gap in China’s fleet for a medium-sized geophysical research vessel. With a gross tonnage of 3,999tonnes, a total length of 90.6m, a fixed crew capacity of 60 people and a range of 12,000 nautical miles, Experiment 6 is a special purpose vessel with an all steel hull structure, electric propulsion system, active front-end (AFE) frequency conversion control technology, DP-1 dynamic positioning system, and integrated navigation and positioning system.


The ship is fitted with an energy efficient main engine, optimised cabin layout, distributed power load, optimised workflow for scientific research operations and adopts lightweight materials. Experiment 6 also has advanced performance functions, such as moderate tonnage, flexible operation, powerful scientific research, low fuel consumption and low operating costs.


According to MARIC, Experiment 6’s structure and functional design, shipborne control support system, shipborne detection and laboratory equipment, and other facilities are comparable to advanced geophysical research and survey vessels of the same tonnage globally. MARIC adds that the vessel can explore deep seafloor topography at 11,000m, can realise geological structure detection and comprehensive three-dimensional exploration of marine environments.


Specifically, Experiment 6 has several main design highlights. It’s China’s first medium-sized scientific research vessel to focus on geophysical surveys as well as taking into account multidisciplinary scientific investigation needs. Experiment 6 is the first domestic Chinese scientific research vessel that adopts the latest and most advanced hybrid cooling D-pod propulsion technology in the world, with high propulsion efficiency, good maintainability and easily satisfies underwater noise requirements.


It is also the first Chinese medium-sized scientific research ship for which the living quarters for all personnel onboard are without upper or lower berths, which greatly improves the living comfort onboard. Its optimised open-air operation deck design maximises the ship’s utilisation rate with an area of more than 600m², matching up to the level of larger 4,000tonne scientific research vessels and effectively ensuring the space required for deck operations.


Innovative and integrated technology is used on the vessel to control bubble interference, resolving the contradiction between rapidity (high-speed operation) and anti-bubble interference, alongside a high plated bilge keel and a specially designed seakeeping ship form, Experiment 6 is capable of excellent wind and wind resistance performance. 


Experiment 6 features a variety of advanced vibration and noise reduction measures that ensure its underwater noise emission meets the criteria of DNV GL’s SILENT-S and SILENT-A notations. The vessel’s emissions fulfil IMO’s NOx tier III requirements, as well as the China Classification Society’s (CCS) requirements for the Green Passport for Recycling (GPR).


Among scientific research vessels, Experiment 6 is able to operate at higher speeds, which can effectively shorten its voyage time, allows the ship to carry forward abundant reserve power and greatly improves the vessel’s resistance to adverse sea conditions. The vessel also uses advanced AFE frequency conversion technology to effectively control harmonic interference.