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The Alaska Region Research Vessel is now the R/V Sikuliaq

The Sikuliaq, pronounced [see-KOO-lee-auk], will be a 261-foot oceanographic research ship capable of bringing scientists to the ice-choked waters of Alaska and the polar regions. When complete, the vessel will be one of the most advanced university research vessels in the world and will be able to break ice up to 2.5 feet thick. Currently under construction at Marinette Marine Corporation, a shipyard in Marinette, Wisconsin, the Sikuliaq will be ready for unrestricted science operations in 2014 and will be home ported in Alaska, at UAF's Seward Marine Center in Seward.

The vessel will be 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 U.S. and international oceanographic community through the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System.

The need for this vessel was first expressed by marine scientists in the U.S. in 1973. After 36 years of development and the consideration of multiple vessel designs, construction began on the ship in December 2009. The vessel was designed by The Glosten Associates, a marine architecture and engineering firm in Seattle, in 2004.

The Sikuliaq will allow researchers to collect sediment samples directly from the seafloor, host remotely operated vehicles, use a flexible suite of winches to raise and lower scientific equipment, and conduct surveys throughout the water column and sea bottom using an extensive set of research instrumentation. The ship will also be able to transmit real-time information directly to classrooms all over the world. The vessel design strives to have the lowest possible environmental impact, including a low underwater radiated noise signature for marine mammal and fisheries work. The Sikuliaq will have accommodations for up to 26 scientists and students at a time, including those with disabilities.