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Research vessel won't get to Alaska until 2015

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Posted: Friday, November 15, 2013 12:00 am

A new polar ocean research vessel to be operated by the University of Alaska Fairbanks will remain on the Great Lakes this winter because of construction delays, the National Science Foundation announced in a news release Thursday.

The NSF said the ship was supposed to leave the shipyard in Marinette, Wis., where it was built, before the Saint Lawrence Seaway closed for the winter. It will not make that deadline because of construction delays.

The ship will spend the winter on the Great Lakes, where it will be used by researchers from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to test a deep-water exploration vehicle modified for under-ice work. 

The ship is now scheduled to leave the Saint Lawrence Seaway in late April. It will conduct ice trials near Greenland, visit Washington, D.C. and Norfolk, Va., and then head west to the equatorial Pacific Ocean for its first scientific operations in fall 2014. Sikuliaq should arrive in Seward in early 2015.

The ship has a reinforced double hull, two rotating thrusters and scalloped props that let it break through ice as much as 3 feet thick. Seattle-based Glosten Associates designed Sikuliaq and it is being built by Marinette Marine Corporation. 

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