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SPAIN BUILDS TWO NEW SHIPS TO 'UPDATE' ITS SCIENTIFIC FLEET

Despite its very maritime geography, Spain does not have a great number of research ships. In fact, the fleet of the Spanish Oceanographic Institute (IEO), which is formed by six ships in a variety of sizes, almost all of which are old, is in urgent need of renovation. Hence, this institution is going to purchase two new identical ships, with a length of 46 metres, commissioned to the Mcies shipyards (Vigo). Each one costs 15 million euros (plus 2 million for equipment) and will be delivered in late 2009 and late 2010, respectively.

“In Spain we are suffering a deficit of coastal, or regional, ships”, explains Enrique Tortosa, the director of the IEO. “These ships are designed for research linked to the preservation of the environment (marine reserves, fishing reserves, seabed reserves, posidonia fields, etc), but also to climate change factors and to the marine problems the country faces on the continental platform”.

The plan is for one of the two ships to work in the Cantabrian and Atlantic area, and the other to the Mediterranean. Current dynamics, climate change parameters, such as the ocean’s temperature or its concentration of carbon dioxide, fishing resources, the outcrop of nutrients, pollution, and protected maritime areas will be the most frequent fields of research for these boats. “It is essential that the renovation of the ships is carried out with the IEO fleet in mind, as well as the fact that it has to complement the rest of the Spanish scientific fleet and that of the EU”, points out José Ignacio Díaz, the coordinator of scientific equipment of the IEO.
The new ships, which have been designed to be very versatile, are built entirely on Spanish technology, and will fulfil the requisites of what is known as the clean ship class, according to Díaz, which means that not only will emissions be minimised, but also that a waste management programme must be instilled onboard each ship.

The renovation of the IEO’s fleet will not end here, and a project is already underway to design a ship to replace the current Cornide de Saavedra (67 metres). The new ship will have a length of 90 metres and enough autonomy to carry out programmes thousands of kilometres from the Spanish coasts. (Source: El País).

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