photograph The Naming of the RV The Princess Royal

Designed by staff and students in the University’s School of Marine Science and Technology, the new boat will play a major role in the university’s drive to focus on sustainability, providing vital data about our coastal waters and informing future decisions about marine conservation zones.

In an official ceremony on Newcastle’s Quayside, HRH The Princess Royal named the new state-of-the-art research vessel which will also be an important asset for teaching marine scientists of the future.

Professor Richard Birmingham, head of the School of Marine Science and Technology at Newcastle University, said they were “delighted and honoured” that Her Royal Highness had agreed to attend the event and perform the official naming ceremony.

“In the fields of marine science and technology, Newcastle University is one of the premier academic institutions in the world delivering research and educational programmes of significant value to the marine sector regionally, nationally and internationally.

“The new research vessel is a significant addition to the state-of-the-art marine research facilities that we already have here at Newcastle University and we are delighted to have had Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal as guest of honour at such a significant event.”

The new boat will replace the Bernicia which was finally taken out of commission last year after more than four decades of biological sampling.

Like its predecessor – which was built in Wallsend by Ryton Marine – the  new research vessel is being built locally in Blyth by master boat-builders Alnmaritec who beat off competition from across the world to scoop the contract.

Newcastle University’s Professor Mehmet Atlar, who has led the project, explained: “The design of the catamaran is based on an environmental philosophy that combines flexibility with efficiency.

“As well as a deep-vee hull to provide excellent performance, sea-keeping and manoeuvrability, we have incorporated an anti-slamming bow profile which is combined with an efficient bulbous bow.

"The features of this new bow will provide the vessel with more contact with the water and hence reduce the slamming risk as well as improving fuel efficiency.”

Newcastle University lecturer and vessel manager Dr Ben Wigham added: “This research vessel allows us to collect data from the real environment, not just for research purposes but to inform policy makers and help them to make the right decisions. It also gives our students the opportunity to put into practice what they have learned.”

Newcastle University is the key driver of scientific research in the region and has identified sustainability as a priority with the launch of the new Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability.  This supports Newcastle's role as a Science City and builds on existing strengths in both research and industry.

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published on: 15th September 2011