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Encyclopedia of Marine and Energy Technology

Oceanographic research vessel RRS JAMES COOK


31 August, 2006, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) took delivery of the newest addition to their research vessel fleet, the RRS JAMES COOK.

The design for the RRS JAMES COOK was developed by Norwegian design company Skipsteknisk AS, a leader in the design of sophisticated research vessels. The hull built by steel ship specialist CRIST of Gdańsk, Poland, was outfitted in Norway at Flekkefjord Slipp & Maskinfabrik AS.

Housing eight science laboratories, the vessel can accommodate up to 31 scientists and 23 crew and is capable of spending up to 50 days at sea. In designing the new vessel, safety was paramount and NERC took into account the risk of running aground in isolated, unchartered waters where there is no possibility of rescue, and the risk of puncture damage to the hull from icebergs or growlers. As a result, the vessel incorporates a double skin around the main propulsion and generator rooms and this concept should enable the ship to sail to the nearest port for repairs.

Power for propulsion and all ancillary functions is provided by a “power station” comprising four Wärtsilä 9L20 diesel engines coupled to Siemens alternators. Total power available when all four generators are running is 6840kW. Each generator unit is independently raft mounted, the rafts being resiliently mounted on the tank top in order to minimise underwater radiated noise.

Two 2500kW electric motors drive twin FP 3600mm diameter, five-blade propellers. In addition, there are four thrusters, two each at the bow and stern. The two stern thrusters are both tunnel types, of 800kW (Super-Silent) and 600kW. One bow thruster is of tunnel type, a Super-Silent design rated at 1200kW. The other is a retractable azimuthing unit of 1350kW. This combination of propulsors provides the vessel with a DP1 capability.

In addition to a deep sea ROV, the JAMES COOK is fitted with two dropped keels which project 2.5m below the ship’s bottom and house sensors.

Length oa: 89.20m, Length bp: 78.60m, Breadth: 18.60m, Depth to upper deck: 9.50m, Draught: 6.30m, Service speed: 12 knots.