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A visit to R/V Aranda

October 5, 2015

The Finnish-Canadian Business Club gathered on the decks of the science research vessel Aranda in Helsinki on September 15. It was a fantastic chance to see the boat that is famed in science circles around the Baltic. Our host was Juha Flinkman, who is the Development Manager for Research Vessels at the Finnish Environment Institute SYKE / Marine Centre in Helsinki. In fact Aranda had just opened its doors to the public on September 10 and it was by all accounts, a wild success. So Juha was quite ready to greet more visitors.

R/V Aranda was launched in June 1989 and is 60m long, weighs 1734 tons and can accommodate up to 25 scientists and 13 crew. It is a reinforced vessel which is able to operate in all seas. Aranda was designed for sub-polar and polar research, so it is in fact an ice breaker. It has been to the Antarctic (twice) and been on the North Atlantic. Aranda is involved in Baltic and polar research and it is one of the first science research vessels that is truly in international use. Juha mentioned that they are always looking for more partners and opportunities for cooperation with Aranda. The next opportunities could come when he travels to the US later this year.

The number of sea days (around 200) has increased because of a recently renewed agreement for fisheries research by Finnish authorities and cooperation with Swedish scientists. This year marks the second year in a row that Sweden has conducted all of its marine research aboard Aranda (as they have no science research vessel of their own). Aranda works all year round in the Baltic Sea and is the only research vessel that is considered “resident” in the sea.  Juha calls the annual big winter cruise in the Baltic his “baby,” because he deals with the planning and getting the permits for entering Russian waters (which can sometimes be a challenge). In terms of mileage, the annual winter cruise is nearly the same as going around the world.

The design of Aranda works so well that it has been copied several times, for example, an American vessel operating in the Arctic is a carbon copy of Aranda, just 40 metres longer! We got to see all of Aranda, right from the depths of the engine rooms, the sauna, the labs, all the way up to the bridge. Aranda has different lab modules for research that can be easily put on and taken off the boat.  Juha said that there is nothing secret on Aranda and that everything it does is public record. That was a really refreshing thing to hear.

Aranda also has the distinction of being the first research vessel that is using domestically produced bio-oil and biodiesel with little to no carbon loading into the atmosphere. “That leftover oil from French fries? We use a derivative of that to power Aranda.”

With all of the construction happening in Ruoholahti, Aranda will also be moving to a new home in the coming months. With the completion of a new hotel in the West terminal area, Aranda will be moving around to the other side of the peninsula and find its home near Salmisaari.

In the coming years Aranda will also go through a refitting process, which will extend the useful lifespan of Aranda for up to 15 years. The refit also includes plans for adding a 5-10 section to the middle of the ship, which would mean cutting it in half, fitting the new piece in and then welding it back together again. An extension on the vessel will also allow for the installation of a “drop keel.” Juha hopes the refit will enhance Aranda’s chances of being used for Arctic research. Research will continue during the refit through the use of a ship from a shipping company.  Hopefully this work will be carried out in Finland.

As of this writing R/V Aranda is out on the Baltic Sea participating in the Baltic International Acoustic Survey on herring and sprat, research that is being carried out simultaneously in other EU countries. Aranda will return to port on October 10.

See more about Aranda here.

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