Grounded Research Vessel in Westfjords Successfully Refloated

A research vessel that ran aground in Tálknafjörður at around 10 PM last night has been refloated. An investigation into the incident is underway.

Weather conditions calm and favourable

At 9:12 PM yesterday, a report was received by the Coast Guard control centre that the research vessel Bjarni Sæmundsson, of the Marine & Freshwater Research Institute, had run aground at Sveinseyri, Tálknafjörður in the Westfjords of Iceland.

The Coast Guard’s helicopter unit, along with the rescue vessel from the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue (ICE-SAR), and other ships, were dispatched to the scene. There were twenty people on board when the ship ran aground. For maximum safety, it was decided to reduce the number of passengers on board, and thus, eight passengers were evacuated.

The Coast Guard’s helicopter was on standby at Tálknafjörður. The weather conditions at the grounding site were calm and favourable. With the aid of the rescue ship Vörður, along with fishing vessels Fosnafjord and Fosnakongen, the ship was refloated at 11:26 PM during high tide and subsequently moved to a pier in Tálknafjörður. An investigation into the circumstances of the grounding is being conducted by the Transport Accident Investigation Committee (RNSA).

Agreement on Long-Awaited New Research Vessel Signed

Research Vessel

The Marine & Freshwater Research Institute (MFRI) will receive a new research vessel in 2024. Yesterday, the institute’s director signed an agreement with government ministers and the Spanish contractor Astilleros Armón.

Plans approved in June 2018

In June 2018, on the centenary of Iceland’s sovereignty, Parliament approved a bill granting the Minister of Fisheries the authority to initiate preparations for the construction of a new research vessel for the Marine & Freshwater Research Institute (MFRI). The new vessel would replace Bjarni Sæmundsson HF-030, which was constructed in 1970. The MFRI would continue to use Árni Friðriksson, a much younger vessel, built in 2000.

Yesterday, Þorsteinn Sigurðsson, the Director of the MFRI, signed an agreement with Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson; Minister of Food, Agriculture, and Fisheries Svandís Svavarsdóttir; and an unnamed representative from the Spanish shipbuilding company Astilleros Armón for the construction of the new research vessel.

“This is a milestone in the history of marine research in Iceland,” Þorsteinn stated in an interview with Mbl.is yesterday. According to the director, discussions regarding the construction of a new research vessel began around the turn of the century. At the time, a decision was made to refit Bjarni Sæmundsson, with the repairs expected to last until 2012.

Yesterday, the MFRI signed an agreement for the long-awaited new vessel. Construction is expected to take 30 months. If all goes according to plan, the vessel will arrive in Iceland in the fall of 2024.

ISK 4.8 billion tender

As noted by Mbl.is, an emphasis will be placed on fuel efficiency and environmentally friendliness in the construction of the new vessel. It will be 70 metres long and 12 metres wide. Skipasýn has spent the past three years designing the ship. It also oversaw the tendering process. The ship will be built by Astilleros Armón, which made the lowest offer of three Spanish yards that tendered for the build, or ISK 4.8 billion ($37 million / €33.5 million).