A commissioning ceremony and community reception for oceanographic research vessel the R/V Sikuliaq took place in Dale R Lindsey Alaska Railroad Terminal in Seward, Saturday March 7, 2014.
The Sikuliaq, a U.S. academic research vessel tailor-made for oceanographic research, is described as one of the most advanced university research vessels in the world, and owned by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and operated by the University of Alaska Fairbanks as a part of the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System’s academic research fleet.
The 261-foot double-hulled vessel will be stationed at Seward Marine Center, its homeport in Seward, Alaska, where it will be tasked with year-round operation. The Sikuliaq is the first vessel in the U.S. academic research fleet capable of breaking ice up to 2.5 feet thick, making it uniquely equipped for polar and sub-polar research.
Construction on the Sikuliaq began in December 2009 at Marinette Marine Corporation, a shipyard in Marinette, Wisconsin after 36 years of development and vessel design research.
The University of Alaska Fairbanks took delivery of the vessel on June 6, 2014 and the Sikuliaq’s first research project began in October off the coast of Honolulu. The vessel accommodates up to 26 researchers, including those with disabilities, who will use the ship to conduct multi-disciplinary studies.
Sikuliaq should be able to take researchers to unexplored areas to collect sediment samples directly from the sea floor and map the ocean floor and currents utilizing its advanced research instrumentation. The vessel will also host remotely operated vehicles and will have the capability to transmit real-time information directly to classrooms all over the world.