Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D., has earmarked the purchase of a new marine research vessel for the State in his Department's 2019 Budget.
In making the announcement Minister Creed said: "The budget provision will allow the Marine Institute to commence the planned replacement of the 21 year old Celtic Voyager with a new 50m modern research vessel that will provide critical national infrastructure to enable Ireland to address the considerable challenges of Brexit and the Common Fisheries Policy as well as climate induced impacts on our oceans."
Welcoming the news Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO Marine Institute said: "The Marine Institute is delighted that the replacement for the Celtic Voyager is included in this year's Budget. This new vessel will enable Ireland to be equipped with the best scientific advice possible to enable a strong negotiating position and to maximise economic opportunities in a sustainable manner".
The Marine Institute plans to tender for the design of the new national research vessel this year and, subject to DAFM and DPER requirements, the Institute anticipates tendering for the construction phase in 2019, with the build process expected to complete in 2021" added Dr Heffernan.
The new vessel will be able to go to sea for at least 21 days at a time and will be designed to operate in harsh sea conditions. Based in Galway, the vessel will be used by the Marine Institute and other State agencies and universities to undertake fisheries research, oceanographic and environmental research, and seabed mapping and surveys; as well as maintaining and deploying weather buoys, observational infrastructure and Remotely Operated Vehicles.
The new vessel will be a sister ship to the State's largest research ship, the 65m RV Celtic Explorer and will replace the RV Celtic Voyager. The Marine Institute's RV Celtic Voyager is Ireland's first purpose built research vessel. It has been utilised heavily since its delivery 21 years ago and has been vital in providing marine scientists, researchers and its crew members, with many years of valued experience at sea, expanding and strengthening marine science in Ireland to help inform decisions affecting our ocean.
According to Dr Heffernan "Coastal research and offshore surveys involving fisheries research, environmental monitoring, seabed mapping, oceanographic work, buoy maintenance and student training all highlight the importance of having the best resources available, producing the best marine science for Ireland".