Ireland’s latest marine research vessel hits the waters in Spain

22 Nov 2021

The RV Tom Crean in Vigo, Spain. Image: Marine Institute

RV Tom Crean, named after the famous Irish sea explorer, is due to be complete by summer 2022.

Ireland’s latest state-of-the-art marine research vessel, RV Tom Crean, has hit the waters in Spain after the construction of its main hull structure.

Launched in the Astilleros Armon shipyard in Vigo, where it is being built, the RV Tom Crean’s hull is now complete and the vessel is on track for full completion by summer 2022.

With $25m in funding from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, RV Tom Crean aims to support key national and international programmes in fish stock assessment, research related to the climate crisis, environmental monitoring, seabed mapping and marine spatial planning.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue, TD, said the launch of the hull is a “significant milestone” in the construction of RV Tom Crean.

“This new research vessel, when delivered in 2022, will be an important infrastructural tool in acquiring data and information supporting the sustainable management and development of Ireland’s valuable marine resource,” he added.

RV Tom Crean will also support the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy and the delivery of the National Marine Planning Framework, among other important marine-related activities.

Spanish shipyard Astilleros Armon Vigo was awarded the contract to build RV Tom Crean in 2019, following the completion of the design by Norwegian ship design consultants Skipsteknisk AS.

When complete, the vessel will be based in Galway and used by Ireland’s Marine Institute and other State agencies and universities to undertake multidisciplinary surveys, maintain and deploy buoys, observational infrastructure and the remotely operated Holland I vehicle.

“The RV Tom Crean will enable the Marine Institute to continue to lead and support vital scientific surveys that contribute to Ireland’s position as a leader in marine science,” said Michael Gillooly, interim CEO of the Marine Institute.

The 52.8-metre silent vessel will replace the 31-metre RV Celtic Voyager and enable 300 operational days a year at sea. RV Tom Crean will be capable of operating throughout the Irish exclusive economic zone and go to sea for at least 21 days at a time – even in harsh conditions.

It was named after the Irish seaman and explorer Tom Crean, who undertook three major expeditions to the Antarctic in the early 1900s. A native of Co Kerry, Crean won the Albert Medal for Lifesaving in 1913 after he walked 56km across Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf to save the life of a fellow explorer.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic