Wartsila's ship design and marine consultancy subsidiary, Schiffko GmbH (Hamburg), has been awarded a contract from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research of Bremerhaven (Germany) to design the revolutionary new European research icebreaker “Aurora Borealis", which will have a deep-sea drilling capability. The ship shall facilitate research in ice and open water conditions in the fields of geology, geophysics, oceanography, biology, glaciology, bathymetry, meteorology, and atmosphere physics.
“Aurora Borealis" will set new standards in the fields of polar research and naval architecture. Currently, no polar research vessel has the capability to autonomously navigate in pack ice outside the summer season. “Aurora Borealis", in contrast, is planned as a multi-purpose icebreaking research vessel for Arctic and Antarctic operations with the capability to autonomously navigate in ice with a thickness of up to 4.5 metres. This will for the first time make possible all-year-round research, e.g. on the effects of global climate change.
The ship shall have the unique capability to perform scientific deep-sea drilling operations at water depths of up to 5000 metres with a penetration of up to 1000 metres, even when amid drifting pack-ice fields. An innovative, high-performance dynamic positioning system shall enable the ship to keep position in such a demanding environment.
The “Aurora Borealis" project is a major strategic European science infrastructure development for the next generations of polar researchers. The vessel will have a length between perpendiculars of 165 metres, the highest icebreaker classification, and more than 55 MW of propulsive power, thereby considerably outperforming all currently operating research icebreakers. Yet machinery onboard “Aurora Borealis" shall be highly energy efficient, environmentally friendly, fully redundant, and allow for reliable and safe operations in the most remote and hostile polar regions.