20th October 2022: The Marine Institute was delighted to welcome the Presidents of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins and Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa on a visit to the newly commissioned research vessel RV Tom Crean berthed in Dublin’s docklands. President de Sousa is currently on a state visit to Ireland.
President Higgins and President de Sousa met with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, the CEO of the Marine Institute, Dr Paul Connolly, and the Institute’s Chairperson, Dr John Killeen.
The Portuguese and Irish delegations were given a tour of the new marine research vessel, after it returned from a fisheries assessment survey in the Celtic sea, following its commissioning in Dingle, Kerry on October 6th. Marine Institute staff outlined the state of the art technology on the ship. This will greatly enhance Ireland’s capacity to undertake many diverse ocean science surveys, participate in international collaborative research projects and acquire the ocean data and knowledge essential to inform and inspire the sustainable management of our vast marine resources.
Representatives of the several government Departments including the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, Department of Foreign Affairs along with several Marine Institute staff were present on the vessel. The itinerary included a short meeting to discuss emerging ocean policy areas in Ireland and Portugal and how improved cooperation on ocean science and research can benefit policy, our people and our planet.
Minister Charlie McConalogue said, “We are honoured to welcome President Higgins and President de Sousa to the RV Tom Crean, to showcase the technology on our new state of the art research vessel and to discuss the importance of ocean science. This vessel gives Ireland the capacity to deepen our understanding of the ocean and to put sustainable seafood as one of the key components of our ocean science agenda.”
The global policy landscape has radically changed over the last few years, driven by COVID19 and the impacts of the war in Ukraine. The ocean has the potential to address many of these new policy areas including food and energy security and climate change. Science has a key role to play and cooperation between Atlantic countries will be key. This presents great opportunities for Ireland and Portugal in the ocean science space. The informal discussions on the ship focused on sustainable seafood, how we manage our ocean space (marine spatial planning), how we protect marine biodiversity (marine protected areas), offshore renewable energy and how the ocean impacts climate change.
Dr Paul Connolly, CEO of the Marine Institute said, “Ireland and Portugal are on the frontiers of the Atlantic and given the importance of the ocean to our very existence, these discussions are critical. We have developed a strong working relationship with Portugal over the years and this State Visit builds on these strong ties and paves the way for more cooperation particularly in relation to EU funded projects on the Atlantic.”
In June of this year, the Marine Institute and the Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera (IPMA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), designed to build on their long established cooperation and to build new partnerships particularly in relation to strategic cooperation on Atlantic Ocean research.
The implementation of cooperation within the MoU's framework will include capacity building, training and exchange of expertise and staff, and developing strategic alliance to build research proposals. It also includes conducting joint research projects, co-organisation of conferences, seminars and workshops.
Notes to Editor:
About the Marine Institute
The Marine Institute is the State agency responsible for marine research, technology development and innovation in Ireland. We provide scientific and technical advice to Government to help inform policy and to support the sustainable development of Ireland’s marine resource.
About the RV Tom Crean
Ireland’s new marine research vessel, the RV Tom Crean was taken into ownership by the Marine Institute in July 2022, having been designed by the Norwegian ship design consultants Skipsteknisk AS of Ålesund, Norway and being built by the Spanish shipyard Astilleros Armon Vigo S.A.
The RV Tom Crean is capable of operating in the rough seas of the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and support increased research in the Atlantic Ocean.
The RV Tom Crean will enable Ireland to undertake critical research work which will support many of the projects outlined in the Programme for Government including fisheries assessment, offshore renewable energy, marine spatial planning, marine protected areas and addressing the challenges of climate change.
The new vessel aims to meet the evolving needs of marine science in Ireland, to ensure our nation is equipped with the best scientific advice possible for managing the sustainable development of Ireland’s marine resource. The 52.8 metre vessel will enable 300 operational days a year at sea. The RV Tom Crean will accommodate up to 26 personnel on board, including 14 scientists.
The vessel is designed to incorporate the latest proven technologies to ensure that it operates as efficiently as possible, with reduced fuel consumption and minimising the vessel's environmental impact and carbon footprint. The vessel has various features including a shore power connection to allow the vessel to operate on renewably generated electrically while in harbour. In addition, the vessel has a harbour generator set to allow for fuel consumption to be minimised when not under way. The vessel’s HVAC (air conditioning) system, lighting and other systems have been designed to be as efficient as possible. The vessel is designed to operate on HVO (hydro-treated vegetable oil) which allows the vessel to use a fuel with a 90% emission reduction over conventional marine gas oil.
The RV Tom Crean will carry out a wide range of marine research activities including expanded fisheries and deep sea surveys, environmental monitoring, climate change related research, seabed mapping and marine spatial planning. It will also be used to maintain and deploy weather buoys, observational infrastructure and our Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Holland I.
The RV Tom Crean, is named after the renowned seaman and explorer who undertook three major ground breaking expeditions to the Antarctic in the early years of the 20th Century.
The first survey the RV Tom Crean undertook was a seabed mapping survey, which is part of Ireland’s INFOMAR Programme. The new vessel travelled to the Celtic Sea, approximately 140 miles south-west of Cork and mapped over 1000 sq. km of seabed.
Since then it has also undertaken a second seabed mapping survey, an Under Water TV Nephrops survey on the Porcupine Bank, an oceanographic survey of Harmful Algal Bloom species in Irish Coastal Waters, a mesopelagic scouting survey to determine temporal and spatial distribution of mesopelagic species, and a Multi organisation physical oceanography and climate cruise with NUI Maynooth, Marine Institute and BSH (Germany) scientists onboard.