In the presence of the Norwegian Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs Elisabeth Aspaker, Fincantieri, one of the world leading shipbuilding companies, and the Institute of Marine Research (IMR), the Norwegian governmental body for oceanographic research and fishing, signed a contract today in Oslo for the construction of an oceanographic icebreaker for operating in polar waters.

The Institute of Marine Research (IMR), based in Bergen and counts with 700 employees, is the direct owner of several research vessels or operates them on behalf of other Norwegian institutes, carrying out missions on a global scale even in collaboration with world leading oceanographic bodies.

The owner of the ship will be the Norwegian Polar Institute, on behalf of the Norwegian government.

The ship will be named “Kronprins Haakon”, in honour of the heir to the Norwegian throne and will be built in Italy in the Fincantieri integrated shipyard in Riva Trigoso-Muggiano, before undergoing final outfitting and sea trials in Norway at VARD – a member of the Fincantieri Group.

The new vessel, designed by Rolls Royce Marine, will be launched in the second half of 2016 and will be fully operative from the beginning of 2017.

The project, promoted by the Norwegian government, has a total value of about 175 million euro. The order for the construction of the ship was acquired by Fincantieri following comparison with qualified international competitors.

The contract was signed today at the Fram Museum in Oslo, between Tore Nepstad, Managing Director of the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research, and Angelo Fusco, Executive Senior Vice President Italy for Fincantieri.

With a gross tonnage of 9,000 tonnes, a length of over 100 metres and a breadth of 21 metres, the vessel will be able to accommodate 55 persons in 38 cabins - research personnel, students and crew - and will be fitted out with the highest standards of comfort for passenger ships. At the bow, its hangar will be able to accommodate two helicopters and will be equipped with complex instrumentation able to investigate the morphology and geology of the seabed.

The ship will be one of the most advanced icebreaker in the world, and will provide a high-tech facility for the study of the marine environment. It will be built according to criteria that ensure minimum environmental impact and reduced radiation of noise underwater so as to allow studies on fish and marine mammals and it will be able to carry out its oceanographic and hydrographic research activities in any area of operation.

The vessel will carry out missions on a global scale and will be used to study the modalities and consequences of climate change in the Arctic environment.

Elisabeth Aspaker, the Norwegian Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, declared: “The purchase of this new research vessel will contribute to the knowledge of the ecosystems in both the Arctic and Antarctic regions. It is an instrument of great importance not only for our Country, but for the whole international scientific community”.

Tore Nepstad, Managing Director of the Institute of Marine Research, added: “This is an important step for all Norwegian institutions that deal with research in the northern and southern hemisphere. We still have many challenges to face in our battle to understand nature. The effects of climate change are one of the research areas in which we need a technologically advanced vessel such as the Kronprins Haakon”.

Giuseppe Bono, Chief Executive Officer of Fincantieri, commented: “We are very satisfied with this prestigious order, acquired from such an important customer that requires high quality standard”. Bono concluded: “With this ship we shall take a further step forward on the technological and innovative front, helped in this also by our ever closer collaboration with our colleagues at VARD".