The Dutch marine research community realises that the 3 national research vessels will have to be replaced within the next decade. An important consideration for the decision-making process was financing. So the fleet renewal process began with placing the ‘new Pelagia’ on the NWO National Roadmap for Large-Scale Research Facilities (GWI). For this the marine research community wrote a proposal, presented by Jack Middelburg.
After the project was included in the GWI Roadmap, NWO formed the PC-GWI committee, on the condition that it would include financing for the equipment and operation of the new vessel. Together with the marine research community, NIOZ drew up a proposal for including the NMF in the GWI Roadmap as well. After this NWO put the initiative on the shortlist of requests that can be submitted from the Roadmap for a biannual call.
Five meetings were held with stakeholders, during which the design of the new vessel was discussed with the marine research community. Such as the size of the aft deck, the number of cabins and research containers, the ice class, the suitability for operating a remotely operated vehicle, etc. The ambition was to build a vessel with limited dimensions, as innovative and sustainable as possible, for a planned service life of 30 years or more.
NMF submitted the formal financing request to NWO in 2019. After a round of improvement suggestions, representatives of all participating Dutch universities presented the proposal to NWO, which sought the advice of an international committee of experts. NWO then granted approval for the definitive design of the Pelagia II, which cleared the way for the call for tenders.
The maritime design bureau C-Job began working on the design of the Pelagia II. The definitive design gradually started to take shape under the direction of Alex Cofino, Head of NMF. The Fleet Renewal Task Force was formed to communicate about the progress of each step in the process. A mock-up of the design was also built in the shipyard to evaluate the dimensions of the various facilities.
Large scale infrastructure call
One of the conditions for financing the new construction was the acquisition of a grant for innovative sea-going research equipment from the Large-Scale Infrastructure call. To that end, a national consortium of all seagoing scientific disciplines drafted a proposal under the leadership of Gert-Jan Reichart. After the proposal was reviewed and defended before an international committee, the definitive grant award was announced in 2020.
NMF and C-Job joined together to draught the technical specifications for all of the vessel’s components. These included a comprehensive and highly detailed description of each of the cabins, pipelines and systems, including the clean water system, the drop keel for underwater measurements, and the CTD system.
01 July 2020
Naming the vessel
NWO, NMF and experts in the field of Dutch science history completed the process of naming the three new vessels based on 10 criteria. An 11th condition applied to the largest vessel, which would be named after a female scientist. The preferred name was Anna Weber-van Bosse: the first female marine researcher to earn international renown.
Start European Tender
The European tender process began in the form of an ‘Competitive procedure with negotiations’. A pre-determined number of shipyards were selected based on these criteria. This form of tendering was chosen because the preliminary tenders could be received and evaluated before the negotiation rounds could begin, in order to arrive at the optimal definitive tender.
First negotiation rounds
Seven shipyards submitted tenders for the shipyard selection phase. After an initial selection round, five of the yards were chosen to begin the next phase of tenders and negotiations. In May 2021, these five shipyards submitted the initial tenders for the subsequent negotiation rounds. One of these yards withdrew its offer from the procedure during this period, and other shipyards declared bankruptcy.
Rounds of negotiation
Five rounds of negotiation were conducted with each of the three remaining shipyards in order to coordinate the NIOZ requirements with the expertise available in the market.
22 August 2022
This process eventually led to the three shipyards submitting a definitive tender on 22 August 2022. The Tender Committee then evaluated these tenders in September 2022, before submitting its recommendations to the board of NWO. [ link to Q&A]
01 November 2022
The NWO board issued its positive recommendation in October 2022, and the preliminary contract decision was announced to the parties on 1 November 2022. A 20-day appeals period followed.
23 November 2022
In late November 2022, the Dutch marine research community and the public at large were informed that the shipyard Astilleros Armon Vigo S.A. had been awarded the contract for the construction of the RV Anna Weber-van Bosse.
16 December 2022
Signing of contract
On 16 December 2022, the contract for the construction of the new Dutch ocean-going research vessel, the RV Anna Weber-van Bosse, was signed on Texel by representatives of NWO (Marcel Levi), NIOZ (Han Dolman) and Spanish shipbuilder Astilleros Armon.
13 April 2023
#1 First report
The shipyard is currently elaborating the plans, schematics and major purchases for the basic design. The yard will then send these blueprints to the NIOZ, which will check whether they meet the requirements and specifications and the users’ requests in consultation with the crew and researchers.
17 May 2023
To facilitate her research activities, the RV Anna Weber-van Bosse will be equipped with a wide range of state-of-the-art equipment and resources. This month we give a brief overview of the equipment mounted on the working deck. And also information on the seakeeping tests conducted at MARIN.
20 June 2023
#3 Acoustic sensors
Every six weeks, the site team visits the ship yard in Vigo. They talk about installation of, amongst others, the acoustic instruments. They will be installed in the drop keel, and some will be built in to the forwards gondola. The two on-board multibeam systems will be installed in the central gondola.
02 August 2023
Four different laboratories will be created on board, each with its own layout suitable for the scientific research conducted in the lab. The goal is to keep the spaces as flexible as possible through the optimal use of the limited space available.
23 August 2023
#5 Basic design
Progress at Armon is generally running according to schedule. The goal of completing the basic design by September is still feasible. NIOZ is still talking with Armon about the additional classification ratings for the implementation of methanol at a later date.
10 September 2023
#6 Energy on board
The RV Anna Weber-van Bosse will be equipped with a diesel-hybrid propulsion system. A diesel engine will power an electric generator that provides electricity for the propulsion systems via distribution boxes. Two generators will produce a total of 2800 kW.
10 October 2023
Start cutting steel
In preparation for the start of the construction of RV Anna Weber-van Bosse the first steel plates were cut in the presence of the site team. Another milestone for the new Dutch research fleet!
11 October 2023
With the welding of the ‘coin for good luck’ by Gert Jan Reichart and Henk Oenema we celebrated the start of the construction of RV Anna Weber-van Bosse at Armon Shipyards in Vigo.
15 October 2023
The vessel will be equipped with the facilities necessary to ensure the comfort and well-being of the full complement of passengers and crew living aboard the vessel. That includes up to 16 crew members and a maximum of 31 marine researchers.
Laying the keel
Start shakedown cruises