“Build 884 is so much more than a ship – it’s four ships in one.” That’s how the shipyard manager describes Kjell Inge Røkke's new super-vessel REV Ocean. The Framo anti-heeling pumps on board will ensure the ship is stable in operation.
The nearly 183 metre-long newbuild, REV Ocean, is currently at the quay at Vard Brattvåg shipyard for fitting, before being sent on to Germany for final finish. Note the name. There has already been a lot of publicity surrounding REV Ocean, even though the ship will not go into service for another year.
“We have a long history of shipbuilding here at Vard, but we’ve never built a vessel like this before. Even though we’re familiar with the various individual components, the way they’ve been put together is completely new. This is a complex newbuild, which will be a research vessel, expedition vessel, yacht and trawler,” explains Dag Vikestrand, Yard Director at Vard Brattvaag, describing build 884.
The hull was launched from Vard’s shipyard in Romania in August 2019 and towed to Norway in the autumn for fitting. Vikestrand has more than 500 people on the project every day at the shipyard in Møre. There are also many people involved on the supplier side, installing miles of cables, electronics and equipment – not forgetting Framo’s pump systems.
It is more than two years since Framo signed the contract with Vard, and Framo’s anti-heeling system and ballast pump were installed on the newbuild over the winter.
“Crane operations, for example, require a counterweight to stop the ship heeling. In this situation, Framo’s pumps are used to distribute the weight and keep the ship stable by moving the water between the tanks,” says Rune Sakslo from Framo’s sales department.
Framo has a long-term relationship with the shipyard north of Ålesund, and now new links are being forged with the building of REV Ocean.
“Business and pleasure”
The vessel is owned by REV Ocean AS, founded and financed by billionaire Kjell Inge Røkke.
The ship is first and foremost a research vessel, but it will also be able to be let out for recreational purposes. The fittings are therefore geared towards both research and luxury, with facilities on board including a helideck, eight laboratories and a swimming pool. The ship also has a three-person submarine, which can be used to explore the marine environment to a depth of 2286 metres. In addition, there is an unmanned submarine, which can go all the way down to 6000 metres.
“The plan is for the ship to be available to researchers for around a third of the time, for other purposes such as inviting politicians or students for another third, and then to be let out as a yacht for the final third,” says Øystein Mikelborg, Operational Director at REV Ocean.
“The biggest challenge with this project is the total complexity, getting everything to work as one. REV Ocean is a really advanced ship.”
Should the ship be unlucky enough to become icebound, it will be able to work itself free thanks to the ballast pumps supplied by Framo.
“The vessel will spend long periods in the polar regions for research to be conducted into environmental consequences. But as a starting point, it should not get so close to the sea ice cap that it freezes fast. If it does, it will have sailed further than we have certificates for,” Mikelborg says.
CEO with a passion for the environment
Nina Jensen is CEO of the newly established company. As a well-known environmental activist, the marine biologist never imagined she would find herself working for Kjell Inge Røkke. In fact, it took him a whole year to convince her to take the job. She had no doubts about his environmental commitment.
In 2017, Kjell Inge Røkke and his wife, Anne Grete Eidsvig, signed up to Bill Gates’ “The Giving Pledge” initiative, undertaking to give away half of their fortune. They decided their priority would be a marine initiative.
“We treat the ocean as a rubbish tip, although it’s the most important thing we have. It accounts for more than 50 per cent of the oxygen we breathe, as well as jobs and the food supply, but is under severe pressure from plastic pollution, climate change and overfishing. This is what Kjell Inge Røkke wanted to do something about,” says Jensen.
Jensen is concerned about climate change as a result of the sea becoming warmer and more acidic, and the long-term consequences this has. She mentions coral reefs, which may become extinct, the fact that more plastic has found its way into the ocean in the last 10 years than in the whole of the previous century and that overfishing is putting fish stocks under intolerable pressure.
Jensen believes it is now time to clean up the problems we have caused, and REV Ocean will be used as a tool to tackle the challenges. She visited the ship several times while it was being built – both to follow developments and to learn. She is also interested in gaining an insight into how the equipment supplied by companies such as Framo helps the ship to function optimally.
“I know virtually nothing about shipbuilding, so it’s fun to see things progressing each time,” Jensen says.
On the other hand, she knows a vast amount about the ocean, and is looking forward to the ship making a contribution to saving marine life. Researchers will be able to use the vessel free of charge, with REV Ocean’s employees and consultants selecting worthy projects in collaboration with the Research Council of Norway.
“It will be a platform for solving problems in the global marine environment, and we want to focus on three particular challenges: climate change, plastic pollution and overfishing.”
“It’s a fun contract and a prestigious project in many ways from a shipping perspective. It will be one of the most esteemed research vessels in the world, plus it’s Norwegian built, with a Norwegian ship owner and Norwegian subcontractors,” says Rune Sakslo from Framo.
“The vessel will be world famous, and the shipowner has gone to great lengths to promote the subcontractors,” Sakslo adds.
More than a year passed between the Framo pumps being installed and the newbuild leaving the shipyard. The pumps were fully assembled and tested before the system left the factory. Every single component was also checked and inspected before the pump was assembled.
“There’s a long time span from ordering a pump until it’s fully operational. They do a very thorough job at the factory, and we test absolutely everything to be 100 per cent sure that the product leaving us is of the very highest quality,” says Tor Hjortland from Framo Fusa.
Soon ready to save the ocean The vessel will soon be heading to Germany, to be fitted out to be both luxurious and sustainable. Not until May 2021 will the ship be finally finished and ready for its maiden voyage.Out to save the ocean.
The ship will then sail from pole to pole, from the Arctic to the Antarctic – with Framo pumps keeping it stable.