Norway is set to transform its marine polar research capabilities through the commissioning, later this year, of the 100m x 21m, 9,000gt Kronprins Haakon, now at an advanced stage of construction at Fincantieri, Italy. The new ship will serve as Norway’s main platform for polar expeditions and scientific missions and for studying the modalities and consequences of climate change in the Arctic environment.
The vessel is replete with instrumentation and equipment for oceanography, marine biology and meteorology studies and is equipped for fish stock monitoring and trawling, sea floor sampling/coring and underwater vehicle operations, and will accommodate about 35 scientific personnel.Based on Rolls-Royce Marine's NVC 395 Polar design, with detailed design performed by Fincantieri, Kronprins Haakon will be owned by the state through the Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI), and operated by the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research (IMR). Construction has been to Polar PC-3 class.
The Polar PC-3 standard meets the criteria for year-round operation in second-year ice, potentially with multi-year ice inclusions. The ship can maintain a speed of 5knots through 1m-thick ice, negotiate pressure ridges and make a maximum 12knots when navigating waters with a 0.4m-thick ice covering. The hull structure, appendages and cranes are designed for service in temperatures down to at least -35°C. At the same time, she fulfils the criteria for DNV GL’s Polar-10 class notation, regarding operation in winter ice up to 1m in thickness.
Most of the main working deck is given over to laboratories and to special equipment and its means of deployment and retrieval. A ‘scientific hangar’ on the starboard side is dedicated to low-temperature sampling, either carried out over the side or via a 3m x 4m moon pool.
Fincantieri awarded the contract for the vessel’s integrated propulsion system to Rolls-Royce. This is centred on clean design (CD) versions of B32:40 series, medium-speed diesel machinery as the prime movers for the main generators.Two 9-cylinder models and two 6-cylinder units drive the respective 4,100kWe and 2,750kWe gensets. Rolls-Royce has also supplied the vessel’s two ice-class, 5,500kW US ARC 0.8 azimuthing main thrusters and two bow tunnel thrusters.The arrangements ensure a DP2 level of dynamic positioning. In open water, the ship will have a maximum cruising range of approximately 15,000nm and an endurance of 65 days at cruising speed.
Kronprins Haakon was transferred to a floating dock in February this year, and the start of the voyage to Norway for final completion is tentatively expected around 1 October.