An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, today (19 December 2000) signed authorisation for Irelands' largest ever Research Vessel. The RV Celtic Explorer will cost £23 million, which represents the single largest capital investment in the marine research sector in the history of the State. The 65.5 metre vessel will be built in Holland and will be delivered to Ireland's Marine Institute in September 2002.
"Ireland has one of Europe's biggest offshore areas – 220 million acres. To date most research in Irish waters is conducted on foreign vessels. The new vessel will reverse this trend significantly", said Frank Fahey T.D., Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources, at the signing in Government Buildings. "The RV Celtic Explorer will enable us for the first time, to explore our entire national territory and beyond", he said.
The new multi-functional vessel will be 6 times bigger than the RV Celtic Voyager. Fitted with all the latest electronics and scientific equipment, it will be one of only three in Europe that is in compliance with the ICES '209' report, "silent" for fish survey purposes. The multi-purpose aspect of the RV Celtic Explorer also means it will be able to change with ease between its various roles, including fisheries surveys, oceanographic work, environmental monitoring, acoustic research, oil recovery support and instrumentation deployment.
"Ireland is progressively enhancing its' world class reputation for marine research, technological development and innovation", said Dr. Peter Heffernan, Chief Executive, Marine Institute. "The arrival of the new vessel in 2002 will significantly extend the Marine Institute's capability to meet the increasing demand from scientists and commercial interests for a platform for deep sea research", he said.
The new, world class, vessel will complement the major work programme currently conducted by the 31m inshore vessel RV Celtic Voyager. The RV Celtic Explorer is already committed to a strategic role in the IR £21m seabed survey. It will also have a vital role facilitating scientists who work on sustainable fish stock management.
Minister Fahey said that Ireland is in a unique position in European terms at the edge of the Atlantic Shelf. "We must grasp the opportunity that this new vessel provides to demonstrate Irelands' marine research capability and our ability to facilitate European and International policy on marine RTDI", he concluded.
The RV Celtic Explorer is funded under the Productive Sector Operational Programme of the NDP 2000- 2006. It will be built to ICES CRR 209 standards and will be Lloyds classified.