Bringing the Ocean to Society
22 Jan 2020
Spain builds new large global research vessel
EurOcean Member IEO gets ready to go global and explore new remote areas of the ocean.

The European Commission has approved an aid of € 68.3 million to finance an investment of € 85.4 million from the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO) for the design, construction and equipment of a new research vessel.

At present, Spain has no global multidisciplinary oceanographic research vessels (with length greater than 80 m). The IEO oceanographic fleet is made up of five oceanographic vessels, among which stand out the 46.7 m twin vessels of regional scale, B/O Ramón Margalef and B/O Ángeles Alvariño, as well as six smaller vessels and the ROV LIROPUS. This lack of a global vessel has limited the possibilities of the IEO to extend its work to remote distant areas that have always been of great scientific interest to the institution.

The only comparable projects comparable in Spain in the last ten years were the construction of the two IEO oceanographic vessels: the Ángeles Alvariño, delivered in 2012, and the Ramón Margalef, delivered previously in 2011. Although its construction and planning complexity is similar and has the same technical and economic requirement, the new vessel will almost double the dimensions of these vessels.

The construction of this vessel is the result of the continued effort that the IEO has been pursuing since 2008 with the objective of expanding its operational capacity and allowing the institution to address new responsibilities and challenges in the field of oceanographic research at a global level.

This new vessel, which, like the rest of the IEO fleet, will be integrated into the ICTS FLOTA, will have the capacity to work in a multidisciplinary context, both on the conservation and sustainability of renewable resources, and to improve and deepen the operation of ecosystems along with oceanographic and environmental characteristics.

The new vessel, due to its ability to work in deep waters, will allow the execution of several research lines that are considered fundamental, such as knowledge of deep waters, seabed habitats and life and its characteristics in them. In addition, thanks to the global capacity that this new vessel will have, it will be able to explore the boundaries of the polar zones in summer. On the other hand, the vessel will offer other work possibilities such as the discovery and exploration of wrecks, archaeological sites and/or other non-renewable resources.

These new and advanced capabilities will mean that the IEO will be able to address new responsibilities by providing additional features that none of the other two oceanic vessels existing in Spain possess, standing out among them: the ability to operate in all the oceans of the planet (except for areas polar), the ability to carry out fishing operations in deep areas below 1,500 m, 30-day campaigns with an additional 15 days of transits with a capacity of researchers of 35 seats (not counting the technicians or the crew), etc.

This large project is scheduled to be publicly tendered in the first half of 2020, will be coordinated and directed with IEO staff and will be fully operational in the second half of 2023.

Cádiz, where the IEO has its most recent oceanographic centre, will be where the new ship's base of operations will be located.