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The RV Tom Crean was commissioned today at a special event in Dingle Harbour by Minister Charlie McConalogue TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.  Ireland’s latest marine research vessel has been named the RV Tom Crean after the legendary Irish Explorer from Kerry, who undertook three ground-breaking expeditions to the Antarctic in the early years of the 20th Century.

Speaking at the commissioning, Minister Charlie McConalogue said. “I don’t need to remind anyone here today that Ireland’s oceans are vital to our economy, our environment, and many aspects of our daily lives. The RV Tom Crean will undertake essential scientific work, which will support many of the projects outlined in the Programme for Government; including fisheries assessments (so crucial to our coastal communities), food security, offshore renewable energy, marine spatial planning, marine protected areas and assist the State in addressing the challenges of climate change.”

The RV Tom Crean will be based in Galway and will enable the Marine Institute to continue to carry out vital surveys that contribute to Ireland’s position as a leader in marine science. The research vessel will carry out a wide range of marine research activities including expanded fisheries surveys, seabed mapping, collect data to support marine spatial planning, climate change related research, environmental monitoring, deep water surveys, and undertake research in the Atlantic Ocean with our EU partners.

Dr Paul Connolly, CEO of the Marine Institute, speaking about the RV Tom Crean said, “We are delighted to name our new research vessel after Tom Crean as it gives recognition to an Irish explorer of international renown whose life was packed with amazing feats of Antarctic bravery, determination and courage. The Institute appreciates the support of the descendants of Tom Crean in this decision. Our new multi-purpose research vessel will enhance Ireland’s capacity to undertake international collaborative research to acquire the ocean data and knowledge essential to managing our vast marine resources.”

The new research vessel is a silent vessel, capable of operating throughout the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and will replace the RV Celtic Voyager, which was Ireland’s first purpose-built research vessel which arrived in 1997. The vessel makes much less underwater noise than traditional vessels, reducing the effect of noise on fish populations while surveying and sampling, so that a more accurate stock assessment can be made.

The RV Tom Crean will be at sea for 300 operational days each year – heading to sea for at least 21 days at a time – and aims to accommodate up to 3000 scientist days annually and is designed to operate in the harsh se conditions of the Atlantic.

Dr Connolly continued, “The ocean is essential to life on earth. It produces half the oxygen we breath and is a major driver of our weather. We need the best quality data, science and advice to inform decisions on the big challenges facing society – mitigating the impacts of climate change, protecting and restoring ocean biodiversity, and realizing the full potential of our ocean economy. The new vessel will be used by the Marine Institute, other state agencies and universities to gather essential data that will be used to deliver the scientific advice for fisheries assessment, offshore renewable energy, marine spatial planning, marine protected areas and addressing the challenges of climate change.”

 Great Great Grand child of Tom Crean April Rose Cronin at the naming ceremony. Photo:Andrew Downes, XPOSURE

The vessel design incorporates the latest proven technologies to ensure that it operates as efficiently as possible, with reduced fuel consumption and minimising the vessel’s environmental impact and carbon footprint.

You can track the progress of the vessel and the research it is undertaking on the Marine Institute website here

To get all the latest updates on the new vessel and find out about the exciting work of the Marine Institute follow us on Twitter @MarineInst Facebook @MarineInstitute and Instagram @MarineInstituteIreland.