Illustration: Ship engineering company Knud E. Hansen

Dream of a new marine research vessel comes true

Monday 19 Apr 21
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Anders Overgaard Bjarklev
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A donation of DKK 50 million from the A.P. Moller Foundation contributes to the realization of Denmark's new ocean-going research vessel.

Armed with a new state-of-the-art ocean-going research vessel, which can also sail in the Arctic, Danish marine researchers will continue to be able to contribute valuable knowledge about the climate and sustainable fishing.

Work on the new ship can soon start thanks to a DKK 50 million donation from the A.P. Moller and Chastine Mc-Kinney Moller Foundation. The donation supplements the Danish state's investment of DKK 170 million and DTU’s own investment of DKK 100 million.

“We are very happy to finally be able to build a new marine research vessel. It’s been a long-held dream, and it’s now coming true,” says DTU President Anders Bjarklev.

Green ambitions

The new vessel will replace the current research vessel Dana IV, which after 40 years at sea is being retired. The new multidisciplinary research vessel provides Danish marine research environments with a world-class modern research infrastructure with a global and Arctic reach that can support oceanographic and climate research and lead to our understanding of lifecycles and biodiversity in the oceans and of marine geography and fisheries.

“With the new ship, Denmark is able to continue its more than 100-year marine research tradition. This research is helping to ensure, for example, the sustainable use of marine resources, and it is contributing to our understanding of the climate and the consequences of climate change,” says Anders Bjarklev.

The donation from the A.P. Moller Foundation is accompanied by an ambition that the research vessel will be able to be powered by green technology. This ambition is very much in line with the Foundation’s previous donation to the Maersk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping.

Built to a high ice class

The new research vessel will be built to a high ice class. This means that the hull will be reinforced so that the vessel can sail in the ice-packed Arctic waters.

“It is very important for the research collaboration between Denmark, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands on sustainable fishing, for example that the new ship can also sail in seas where ice is found. Moreover, some of the voyages related to climate research also take place in the Arctic regions,” says Anders Bjarklev.

Together with the other Arctic states, Denmark has a special responsibility to protect and safeguard the peaceful development of the Arctic region, and this includes strong research.

Broad majority behind government funding

Funding by the Danish government fell into place in autumn 2020 as a result of broad political support for spending part of the so-called research reserve for this purpose.

“We’re extremely pleased that the Minister for Higher Education and Science was able to secure a broad majority to prioritize the financing of the much-needed research infrastructure that will benefit Denmark for many decades to come,” says Anders Bjarklev.  

Read more about DTU's activities in the Arctic.

Facts about the new research vessel

Who will operate the vessel?
DTU will be in charge of operating the ship, but all Danish research environments will have access to the vessel through the Danish Center for Marine Research, which is a joint collaboration initiative between all Danish marine research institutions.

High ice class
The ship is built to meet polar code rules for ice class B corresponding to IACS PC6, so the vessel will therefore have a higher polar approval than Dana IV. This means the hull will be reinforced so that the vessel can sail in waters covered with ice up to 1 metre thick.

Number of expected sailing days
Up to 290 sailing days a year, which is more than Dana IV.

Research facilities
The new ship will be quiet in operation and must meet strict limits on the underwater noise it emits, as it can affect acoustic sensors. Plans for the ship include a number of new hull-mounted sensors, and a drop keel that will allow sensors to be lowered beneath the air bubbles which form along the hull. The ship will also be equipped with modern sampling equipment for various research disciplines.

Dana V will enable many different types of research, including:

Oceanography
Research into the physical, chemical, and biological properties and elements of the sea, such as marine life, temperature and salt levels, currents, waves, and the ocean’s interaction with the atmosphere. The research will provide fundamental knowledge of the ocean, and include investigations of marine microorganisms and their role in the ocean’s ability to absorb atmospheric CO2. This also includes investigating the role of the sea in the climate, particularly in the arctic regions, where climate change is very evident.

Marine geology
Includes mapping the seabed to gain useful knowledge for resource extraction, and possible future mining, and research into past biological and chemical signals from the climate and sea stored in the seabed (palaeoceanography).

Fishing research
This research provides the scientific foundation for the sustainable utilization of the sea. In addition to monitoring fish stocks, researchers are working to understand marine ecosystems and the impact of fishing on these systems.