Launch of the Research Vessel Sikuliaq
The R/V Sikuliaq is owned by the National Science Foundation and will be operated by the University of Alaska Fairbanks, with a homeport in Seward, Alaska. The ship will be part of the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) research fleet and is expected to begin science operations in early 2014.
Sikuliaq, pronounced [see-KOO-lee-auk], is an Inupiaq word meaning “young sea ice” or “young sea ice that is safe to walk on.” The ship name reflects the unique ice capability the 261-foot-long vessel will bring to the UNOLS academic research fleet. Sufficient ice strengthening will allow the R/V Sikuliaq to work safely in moderate seasonal ice, breaking ice up to 2.5 feet thick, and facilitate operating over a longer period than formerly possible in the North Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Alaska, and the Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort Seas.
More information, including recent construction photos of the ship, can be found on the website http://www.sfos.uaf.edu/sikuliaq.