Out of the Office: Exploring the R/V Sikuliaq

Yesterday the ISC watchstander team took advantage of some E/V Nautilus transit time and ventured to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) to see the new National Science Foundation research vessel Sikuliaq.

Based out of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Seward Marine Center in Seward, Alaska, this 261 foot polar-class 5 ice breaker is equipped to break through 2.5 feet of ice and sail with up to 26 scientists and a full crew. Reluctant to miss any trip to WHOI, the presence of an ice-breaker on the east coast further sweetened the prospective excursion, and upon seeing the R/V Sikuliaq, we were surely not disappointed.

Watchstander Erin Bilbo and Nautilus Live host Kelly Moran in the R/V Sikuliaq control room
Watchstander Erin Bilbo and Nautilus Live host Kelly Moran in the R/V Sikuliaq control room

Standing on the dock, the hulking starboard side of the Sikuliaq towering above, you can almost imagine the bow crashing through sea-ice. Boasting a 52 foot beam, this brand new research ship provides ample space for both wet and dry labs, several walk in refrigeration units, a spacious workshop, full telepresence capabilities, and a designated hangar (the Baltic room) for CTD deployment. We were lucky enough to be able to go aboard towards the end of the day, and while the ‘bells and whistles’ look impressive on paper, it is hard to truly appreciate the size and technological scope of this vessel without seeing it in person. Perhaps most awe-inspiring was the space-age looking control room, equipped with a captain’s chair and control panel that makes the spaceships from star trek look like child’s play.

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We are all excited to see what the future holds for the R/V Sikuliaq, and look forward to following her future expeditions.

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