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News Release 14-091

Ready for sea

Researchers, congressional staff get first glimpse of NSF's R/V Sikuliaq

R/V Sikuliaq docked

R/V Sikuliaq stopped at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for some final outfitting.

August 5, 2014

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

Ocean scientists and congressional staff were among the first to tour the National Science Foundation's (NSF) newest ocean research ship, R/V Sikuliaq as she stopped at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for some final outfitting. R/V Sikuliaq is a global class, ice-capable research vessel that will support science that helps us learn more about marine life, our oceans, our atmosphere and our global climate, and is headed to her homeport of Seward, Alaska.

R/V Sikuliaq--pronounced [see-KOO-lee-auk], translated from Inupiaq as "young sea ice"--is a 261-foot ship designed to weather harsh conditions to help advance polar and subpolar scientific research. Owned by NSF and operated by the University of Alaska Fairbanks, R/V Sikuliaq was launched in October 2012. The vessel is outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment to bring scientists to ice-choked polar regions: It is able to cut through ice up to 2.5 feet thick.

Additionally, the vessel design strives to have the lowest possible environmental impact, including a low underwater radiated noise signature for marine mammal and fisheries work. R/V Sikuliaq will be able to accommodate up to 24 scientists and students at a time, including those with disabilities, providing scientists from around the world and in the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) a unique and important research opportunity.

From Woods Hole, R/V Sikuliaq will travel to Puerto Rico for her "shakedown sea trials," which include winch trials, deep-water trials, and the NSF inspection necessary to become part of the UNOLS research fleet. Along the way, the crew members will continue to familiarize themselves with the ship, testing equipment and running it at different depths. Ultimately she will arrive in Hawaii in mid-October to load equipment and immediately begin a research cruise there. She has another cruise planned toward Guam before her arrival in Alaska in February 2015.

For more information about Sikuliaq, check out her website or follow the ship on Facebook.


Media Contacts
Ivy F. Kupec, NSF, (703) 292-8796, email:
Dana Topousis, NSF, (703) 292-7750, email:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2018, its budget is $7.8 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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