Damen Shipyards Group has recently completed the extensive rebuild of cutting-edge research vessel OceanXplorer at Damen Shiprepair Rotterdam. The vessel will contribute significantly to OceanX’s mission – to explore the ocean and bring it back to the world. In this way, the initiative aims at the building of a global community engaged with understanding, enjoying, and protecting our oceans.
Upon completion of the project, OceanXplorer has become the most advanced exploration, research, and media vessel in the world. As OceanX’s new flagship, she builds on the legacy of the organization’s first vessel, Alucia, and takes things to the next level. Equipped with a series of submersibles, sonar arrays, manned submarines, an ROV and AUV, OceanXplorer is able to explore and map the depths of the oceans.
The vessel is able to collect live samples and bring them aboard where they can be analyzed by scientists in state-of-the-art laboratories – with the capabilities, amongst other things, to carry out DNA sequencing.
OceanXplorer’s outstanding research facilities are paired with Hollywood quality filming and media studios – developed in partnership with renowned filmmaker James Cameron. With this, the vessel’s findings can be live-streamed to audiences worldwide at the exact moment of discovery.
Damen served as the main contractor in this complex and challenging project, fulfilling an extensive scope of work that brought together various disciplines from across Damen Shipyards Group – including offshore and survey newbuild, repair & conversion, and yachting specialisms.
The project required Damen to rebuild the vessel – a former offshore survey ship – in essence from the main deck upwards by stripping the existing accommodation and adding a completely new and much larger accommodation to house the new laboratories, workshops, and submarine hangar. Also, a fully integrated heli hangar was added to the superstructure as well as extensions on both sides of the accommodation decks to house new cabins over the (increased) full beam of the vessel. Following the structural part, the work included overseeing the complete integration of all ship’s systems including specialist hydrographic and laboratory systems, and an innovative IT infrastructure to facilitate the combination of state-of-the-art research facilities with the onboard Hollywood standard cinematography and media studios.
Damen worked closely with OceanX’s specialist teams, developing the scope of the project in order to fulfill all requirements. This included responsibility for the interior and exterior of the vessel. The ship is unique in its combining of up-to-the-minute research facilities – courtesy of renowned naval architects Skipsteknisk – and top-of-the-line interior accommodations, designed by Christina Fallah. The vessel’s additional interiors, as well as its exterior, were styled by Steve Gresham.
The project also required Damen to undertake a docking scope, including removal and refurbishment of azipull and bow thrusters, blasting and coating of tanks, and complete overhaul and upgrading of crew accommodation.
Tjarco Ekkelkamp, project director for the OceanXplorer project at Damen said, “This has been a challenging project, the result of which we are very proud of. On the one hand, this shows the extensive capabilities of Damen as a group – the powerful synergies within our group, covering both newbuild and repair & conversion capabilities and spanning commercial vessels and superyachts. On the other, this is a vessel that represents a force for good in the world – one that will enhance human involvement, understanding and ultimately conservation of our oceans. With our strong commitment to maritime sustainability, we are delighted to have played our part in the development of OceanXplorer.”