German research ships get a going-over

Burchana propeller shaft work at Diedrich Schiffswerft Burchana propeller shaft work at Diedrich Schiffswerft

Three ships in Germany’s impressive fleet of research vessels have completed visits to local North Sea shipyards, reports Tom Todd.

The biggest of the ships, the 117.9m x 25.07m research icebreaker Polarstern, berthed at Bremerhaven’s Lloyd Werft (LWB) where it is a regular visitor.

Yard Technical Director Sven May told Maritime Journal the ship did not enter dock during its latest nearly one month stay. Along with routine maintenance, all four davit sets were replaced and lifeboats renewed, he reported. Polarstern is operated by the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) in Bremerhaven for research mainly in the Arctic and Antarctic.

The ship is now 36 years old and is one of several prominent German research ships due for retirement and replacement. An announcement on who will build Polarstern 2 by about 2020 is expected soon.

LWB is hoping for that job - estimated now to involve costs of €550-650 million rather than an originally estimated €450 million - and its chances appeared bolstered by a recent pledge from the city-state of Bremen to stand guarantor.

In Hamburg, the 97.5m x 16.5m multi-discipline research ship Meteor spent five weeks at the Norderwerft shipyard for a variety of overhaul, maintenance and repair jobs. Yard spokesman Oliver Grün told this correspondent it covered inspection of the ship’s MAK 6M332 propulsion system and its rudder plant, replacement of four tons of damaged plating and the renewal of sealings. Some hull painting and interior modernisation was also carried out, Grün told MJ.

The 32 year old Meteor, which calls regularly at the yard, is also among German research ships earmarked for replacement over the next few years. It is operated for the German Government by Briese Schiffahrt and the University of Hamburg.

The smallest of the three research ships at local yards was the 30m x 8m multi-purpose Burchana. It is a regular visitor to the Diedrich Schiffswerft, near Emden, which said the main reason for the latest call was to get two new propeller shafts –which were manufactured for the job by the yard itself.

The Burchana is operated by the Government’s NLWKN agency, whose ships manage a range of coastal and inland sea and waterway sectors on the Baltic and North Sea coasts.

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