New Marine Research Vessel Honours Þórunn Þórðardóttir

The research vessel Þórunn Þórðardóttir

A new marine research vessel Þórunn Þórðardóttir, expected to enhance Iceland’s marine research capabilities, will be launched on December 15 and is expected to be delivered in October 2024. The ship’s namesake was a pioneering marine researcher in Iceland.

To replace Bjarni Sæmundsson

A new marine research vessel, the Þórunn Þórðardóttir HF300, will be launched on December 15. Þórunn, the ship’s namesake, was Iceland’s first woman educated in marine research and a pioneer in studying microalgae’s primary production (i.e. the process by which microalgae convert inorganic carbon, typically in the form of carbon dioxide (CO₂), into organic compounds using the energy from sunlight).

Born in 1925 and a graduate of Oslo University, Þórunn received honorary recognition for her contributions to marine research. She adapted the radiocarbon method to Icelandic conditions, and her measurements remain relevant today, as noted by the Marine & Freshwater Research Institute. She passed away in 2007, leaving behind her husband, Odd Didriksen, and their two children.

In a press release published on the government’s website, Minister of Food, Agriculture, and Fisheries, Svandís Svavarsdóttir, highlighted the ship’s significance for Icelandic marine research and commended the apt naming on the day of the Women’s Strike. The vessel, whose construction has been overseen by the engineering firm Skipasýn at the Astilleros Armón shipyard in Spain, measures nearly seventy metres in length and thirteen metres in width. Powered mainly by oil and equipped with two large batteries, it will replace the Bjarni Sæmundsson in about a year.

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).