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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Launch Research Ship At Marinette Marine

In the midst of a persistent cold rain, Marinette Marine launched the research vessel Sikuliaq on Saturday morning, Oct. 13.

The Sikuliaq is a state-of-the-art 261 foot research vessel owned by the National Science Foundation and operated by the University of Alaska - Fairbanks as part of the U.S. academic research fleet. It will be used by scientists in the US and International oceanographic community through the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System.

The Sikuliaq will allow researchers to collect sediment samples directly from the seafloor, host remotely operated vehicles, use flexible winches to raise and lower scientific equipment, and conduct survey throughout the water column and sea bottom using an extensive suite of scientific sonar systems. The ship will also be able to transmit information to classrooms all over the world. The ship will have accommodations for up to 24 scientists, marine technicians and students, including those with disabilities. The ship will be operated by 20 crewmembers.

The $139.8 million vessel, built by Marinette Marine Corp. - a Fincantieri Company, has an overall length of 261 feet, with a waterline length of 237 feet. The maximum beam length is 52 feet, with a draft waterline design of 18 feet, 9 inches. The vessel has a displacement of 4,065 long tons (a long ton is 2240 pounds).

The Sikuliaq can stay at sea for 45 days, and has a top speed of 14.2 knots.

Another unique feature of the Sikuliaq is that because of its thick-hull construction, it will be able to break ice up to 2.5 feet thick, which is unique in the US academic research fleet.

Fabrication of the Sikuliaq began in January of 2011. The keel was laid in April of that same year. After the vessel’s launch, the ship will remain in Marinette until builder’s dock trials and sea trials are conducted next spring. The vessel will be delivered in July 2013 and have a home port of Seward, Alaska.

The vessel was christened by Dean Emerita Vera Alexander of the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. Alexander has been involved with the planning for the Sikuliaq since the late 1970s. She chaired the design team for the vessel until she retired in 2004. Alexander is a distinguished expert in the field of biological oceanography, and has been recognized nationally and internationally for her service in the field of marine science.

Professor Emeritus Robert Elsner served as the honorary triggerman for the launch of the Sikuliaq. He has taught at the University of Alaska-Fairbank’s School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences since 1973. That same year he submitted a proposal to the National Science Foundation to build an ice-capable vessel to conduct research in the northern latitudes. He has been involved in planning for the vessel for more than three decades.

Elsner was also important in the naming of the Sikuliaq. While conducting research in Barrow, Alaska years ago, he discussed potential names for a new vessel with Alaska Native friends. The name suggested to the committee by Elsner, and chosen among dozens of suggestions, was Sikuliaq, which means “young sea ice” in the Inupiaq language.

Funding for the Sikuliaq came entirely through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The total cost for the project was $200 million.

The 20 Year club presented the colors. The Pulaski High School Band performed prior to launch.


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