An enthusiastic crowd turned out in the rain to watch the christening and launch of the R/V Sikuliaq by the Marinette Marine Corporation today. Also on hand was a sizable contingent from the great state of Alaska and several local politicians, including Rep. Reid Ribble and Mayor Jim Schmitt.
The Sikuliaq is an oceanographic research vessel that will operate in Arctic waters. One of the ship's sponsors, Dr. Vera Alexander, explained there are two areas of the Earth we have not explored significantly; the deep ocean and the Arctic. Of these, the Arctic lags the furthest behind.
It is exciting to consider all the scientific research that will be able to be conducted in the Arctic region by this modern research vessel. The United States has allowed its research fleet to age and become outdated. It is important that we do not lose the drive to explore and understand our world.
The Sikuliaq's principle features:
- Length, overall 261 feet
- Length, design waterline 237 feet
- Beam, max across reamer 52 feet
- Draft, design waterline 18 feet 9 inches
- Displacement 4,065 long tons
- Propulsion power 5,750 BHP
- Max speed 14 knots
- Crew 20
- Scientists 24
Great thought should be taken by our government before funding is cut from our ship building programs. It takes years to acquire the necessary skill and experience to produce quality vessels; this cannot be quickly regained once it is lost.