Kjell Inge Røkke, the former owner of 70m Benetti M/Y Reverie and 66m Vitters S/Y Aglaia (now Ahimsa) who currently owns the 51m Alloy Yachts S/Y Red Dragon, is to privately finance the construction of a 181m Research Expedition Vessel (REV).
Designed by fellow Norwegian Espen Øino, the REV project has been commissioned by Rosellinis Four-10, a company owned by Røkke and his family. It will be built to ICE PC6 Class by Vard Tulcea (the Vard group is 69.67% owned by Fincantieri) in Romania and then towed to Vard Brattvaag in Norway for outfitting. After delivery in Norway, the vessel will return to Romania for finishing with completion scheduled for 2020.
The highly specialised vessel, which will have a crew of 30 and be able to accommodate 60 researchers, is designed specifically for worldwide research and expedition activities with the objective of developing knowledge and sustainable solutions to address the environmental threats facing the world’s oceans. WWF Norway has been invited by the owner to take part in developing the project.
“Marine life is under considerable pressure and a large-scale rescue operation is needed,” says Nina Jensen, CEO of WWF Norway. “If we are to overcome these challenges, we have to move from talk to action, and develop the specific solutions the oceans need.”
Having worked on fishing trawlers in Alaska, Røkke purchased his own trawler in the U.S. and gradually established an international fisheries business (he built his first factory ship with Vard 30 years ago). In 1996 he became the largest shareholder of Aker Solutions, a global provider of systems and services to the oil, gas and marine biotechnology sectors.
“The sea has given me great opportunities,” Røkke told the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten. “I’m grateful for that. I want to give back to society the bulk of what I’ve earned. This ship is a part of that. The idea of such a ship has evolved over many years, but the plans have become concrete in the past year.”
REV will be one of the most advanced research expedition vessels in the world equipped for monitoring and surveying marine areas, currents, the seabed, fish, animal and plant life around the globe. Research features include modern laboratories, an auditorium, a hangar for a remote operated vehicle (ROV) and an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) with access to the vessel’s moon pool.
Protecting the environment has been considered throughout the concept and development phase of the vessel. To this end, REV will be powered by a hybrid diesel-electric system of generators, electric propulsion motors, and controllable pitch tunnel thrusters. The vessel will employ Vard’s SeaQ Green Pilot, an energy management and performance system for monitoring CO2, SOx and NOx emissions.
The technical specifications are still subject to change, but other key features are the energy recovery systems, synthetic decking, underwater noise pollution prevention, and ballast water treatment to prevent species cross-contamination.
“There may not be any economic rationale for the private construction of such a ship, but the case is compelling from the oceans’ point of view,” says Røkke, who has no plans to make money from the enterprise.
Instead and in order to generate funding for research, REV will be built to superyacht standards to make it suitable for charter to private individuals, companies and institutions. Røkke and his family will also use the vessel "for recreation and inspiration”, but will pay charter fees like other clients.
Images courtesy of Vard