Ship of the Year 2003 – M/S «G.O. SARS»

– advanced research vessel delivered from Flekkefjord Slipp & Maskinfabrikk

The Institute of Marine Research (IMR) and the University of Bergen (UiB) joined forces when ordering the new research vessel M/S «G.O. SARS», which is possibly the most advanced research vessel in the world. IMR will have the operative management of the vessel, and IMR and UiB will share the use of her according to a set formula.
The vessel was christened by Her Majesty Queen Sonja on the 7th of May in Bergen, but was handed over from the yard to the Owners already on the 25th of April. Extensive trials will be carried out prior to the vessel’s first regular cruise to the Barents Sea and Norskehavet.
«G.O. SARS» was delivered from Flekkefjord Slipp & Maskinfabrikk as Hull no. 185, and the vessel is considered to be an asset in the future research when it comes to fisheries and environmental studies, seismic research and sea-floor explorations. She will be used by researchers from UiB and IMR, either co-operating or working independently. Furthermore, the Owners of the vessel expect to achieve synergy effects within new areas of reasearch. IMR and UiB are both based in Bergen, which is the centre of the marine research activities in Norway.
The Norwegian Parliament took the final decision to build a new vessel in autumn of 1999. As a nation with a serious approach to the degree of exploitation of sea resources, as well as the consequential effects on Mother Nature, it is essential to gain access to the knowledge which research ships like «G.O. SARS» can provide. In order to manage marine resources in a sustainable manner, it requires basic understanding of these resources. By combining the research expertise of UiB and IMR it will result in synergy effects that will benefit the nation as a whole.
During the period from the time of contracting until the vessel was delivered, 400 million kroner had been allocated for the building and outfitting of the vessel.

The Yard

The newbuilding contract was signed on 22nd December 2000. The building process can be described as follows:
The building of sections started in the autumn of 2001 at the Christ yard in Gdansk and Gdynia, Poland. The sectionbuilding of the hull above the trawlerdeck started later on at Kvina Yard, which is owned by FSM and specializes in building ship hulls.
The Polish sections were welded into one hull in early 2002 and then towed to Kvina. The work could then begin to put together the Polish- and the Norwegianbuilt sections.
The complete hull with main engine, piping systems, electrical systems etc. was ready for launching in the middle of August 2002, and was then towed to “Slippen” at Flekkefjord for the final outfitting of the vessel.
According to the original plan the vessel should have been ready for delivery to her owners on 1st February this year, but some delays occured postponing the delivery date.

Why build a new ship?

There are several reasons for the required replacement of today’s «G.O. Sars» and «Håkon Mosby». The “old” «G.O. Sars» (now «Sarsen»} which is owned by IMR, has reached an age of 30 years, and for a ship, that is quite an old lady. At the same time UiB had a need for a larger ship than «Håkon Mosby».
By joining forces in the ordering of a new, large and well-equipped research vessel, UiB and IMR can conduct research activities together or individually. This will strengthen the co-operation between the expert groups at both institutions, and will also strengthen Bergen as a hub for marine research in Norway. This goes for the traditional fishery and oceanographic research, but will also lay the ground for new areas of research.

Existing research ships

IMR already owns «Johan Hjort», «Michael Sars» and «G. M. Dannevig». In addition they do the crewing and running of «Dr Fridtjof Nansen», which is owned by Norad and is operating along the coast of Western Africa, from South Africa to Morocco.
As already mentioned UiB owns the ocean-going research vessel «Håkon Mosby», and also «Hans Brattstrøm», which is relatively small and being used coast- and fjordwise.
The newbuilding is named after one of Norway’s most renowned marine biologist, Georg Ossian Sars (1837-1927). The new vessel is actually the third one bearing his name.

The designer

Skipsteknisk AS, Ålesund is responsible for the projection and design of «G.O. SARS» in what can be desribed as a long drawn-out project. The contract with IMR was signed in the autumn of 1999, but the work actually started already in 1997 when Skipsteknisk made a conceptual design for the institute. From the time of signing the contract in 1999 until spring of 2000 Skipsteknisk and IMR worked together on the matter of specifications and drawings for what should eventually become the new «G.O. SARS».
The agreement between the two parties is quite extensive. It does not only incorporate design and drawings of the ship, but also supervision during the building period and handling of all the documentation. During the two first years of operation Skipsteknisk will also take care of the guarantee follow-up of the ship.

No noise, please

The strict noise criteria placed on this vessel are quite special, not to say unique. The vessel is noise reduced according to ICRS Co-operative Research Report no. 209. These requirements can be compared to the ones for submarines, and means that all equipment on board must also comply with such requirements. Most of the machinery and pipings are anti-vibration mounted. These noise criteria placed on the building of the vessel led to strict control, monitoring and retesting of all solutions along the way.


The ship is being outfitted and prepared for fishery research operations including mapping of resources, trawling and acoustic research operations and environmental studies, seismic survey, exploring the ocean floor etc.
The new vessel is rigged for both pelagic trawling and bottom trawling with separate winch systems. Two independent drop keels are equipped with a number of acoustic sensors for multi frequency acoustic sampling and species identification of fish.
The acoustic instruments are capable of registering fish throughout the water column, from the surface down to the seabed. The echosounder operates at six different frequencies simultaneously.
The multibeam sonars will measure the size and structure of fish-schools and give measurement of bottom topography. The dopplersonars are for measurement of sea currents.

Super silent

Perhaps the most important improvement with «G.O. SARS» from a fishery biological point of view is the vessel’s capability to operate at such a low noise level. This makes it feasible to perform studies of both individual fish samples as well as steams of fish in their original environment. Up to now the effects made of noise have been a serious source for misinformation of the observations of fish and plankton.
«G.O. SARS» has the top of range of equipment for detection and registering of fish. Some of the equipment has actually been developed during the building of the vessel and was not available up to very recently. This goes for echo sounders and sonar systems with software for acoustic detection and processing of signals.
Other technological advances available on the new vessel is pictures with better data resolution enabling the researchers to study individual fish and thus gain more detailed knowledge of the marine environment. As an example, this is important when studying the migration and spawning behaviour of herring.
The drop-keel will besides make it possible to work under poor weather conditions because there will be less interference in the data collected. In addition satellite communication facilitates data transfer from ship to shore enabling researchers ashore to work on the data in “real-time”.


«G.O. SARS» offers the researchers unique new possibilities for studying how seismology relates to marine life. As seismic work often is believed to disturb fish stocks, it is in a way something of a paradox that the same ship can be highly equipped to conduct both fishery and seismic work. But this ship will actually be able to give answers as to how the seismic influences on the life at sea.
Seismic research means sending out a signal with an air gun. The sound generates seismic waves that pass through the water. The refractive patterns and reflections of these waves are collected by a streamer array that is towed behind a RV. This streamer array may be as much as 2-6 km long. The vessel will be able to carry out seismic studies using towed air-guns and hydrophones. Such studies will be carried out by the UiB.
Analysis of the signals picked up by the array gives geophysicists a picture of the structure of the sea floor and insights into the development of the earth’s crust in this area. The vessel is equipped to collect core samples 25 metres into seabed sediments, and a special echosounder will be capable of studying sediments as much as 150 metres below seabed.

UiB is the only Norwegian university to have the geological equipment for this kind of investigation. It is valued at around 10 million kroner, and the equipment is mobile and can be used on board either «Håkon Mosby» or «G.O. SARS».
It is worth noticing that the size of «G.O. SARS» gives opportunities for both research and education, for instance by “organizing several cruises simultaneously”. This increases the potential for new collaborations, making new multi-disciplinary initiatives possible. It also means that each cruise can be made more efficient.

The fact that the vessel is more stable means that it is less affected by bad weather. This is especially relevant for seismic work as this has always been dependent on good weather, because otherwise the collected data contains an increased amount of interference noise. It is estimated that the new vessel should be 20% more effective than the research vessels currently in use.

«G.O. SARS» will also be an asset when it comes to research on the clima and process studies in northern waters. She will therefore be an important tool in the new Bjerknes co-operation. It is possible to conduct studies on the effects caused by global warming and the oceans’ role as a regulating medium in this respect. Another project for which the ship can be used, is the exchange of CO2 between the oceans and the atmosphere. The researchers can study how the oceans react to the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Another feature is the advanced multi-beam sonar which will provide 3D pictures of the sea floor, which will in turn enable researchers to better understand how topography influences current systems. The on board laboratory facilities means that the scientists can test water samples more effectively.

M/S «G.O. SARS» Main particulars:

Length o.a. 77.50 m
Length p.p. 68.40 m
Beam moulded 16.40 m
Depth to main deck 6.20 m
Depth to second deck 9.10 m
GT 3,80

Tank capacities are 500 m3 for fuel oil, 170 m3 for fresh water and 450 m3 for water ballast. The vessel is built according to class with DNV @1A1, Ice C, E0, DynPos AUT, Clean.


«G.O. Sars» is equipped with a diesel electric propulsion system, supplied by Siemens AS. The main propulsion unit is a fixed Lips 5-blade propulsion plant which is connected to two electro motors in tandem. These have the notation Super Silent. Each of them has an output of 3,000 kW at 160 rpm.
The power station consists of three Wärtsilä diesel engines type 6L32, each with an ouput of 2,600 kW at 720 rpm and connected to Siemens generators with a capacity of 3,250 kVA. The propulsion system gives the ship a maximum speed of 17 knots, while the cruising speed is about 11-13 knots.
The steering gear is of Tenfjord make, and for better manoeuvering the vessel is equipped with an azimuth thruster of 900 kW and a tunnel thruster of 600 kW, both placed fore, and in addition another tunnel thruster located aft of 450 kW.
The auxilliary unit consists of a Volvo Penta D25MS diesel engine and a Stamford generator. The emergency generator set is made up of a Volvo Penta TAMD 103 diesel engine and a Stamford generator.
Sperre has delivered compressors, Allweiler pump equipment and Alfa Laval separators. The freezing/cooling machinery comes from Teknotherm AS. Isotek has performed the isolation work in the engine room, while Aeron Miljøteknikk AS is the supplier of the ventilation plants and fans. The boilers are from Pyro and the heat exchangers is of APV Heat Exchanger make delivered by Norco Oslo AS. The fire safety equipment consists of a CO2 plant from Heien-Larssen Kidde Offshore & Marine AS and a fire alam system from Tyco Fire & Safety.


As already pointed out the vessel is constructed with the aim to be very stable and has two built-in Intering anti-rolling tanks of approximately 180 m3, delivered by Tøssebro AS. The trawldeck is spacy and well-equipped with two sets of trawl winches. She is further rigged for both pelagic trawling and bottom trawling with separate winch systems. «G.O. SARS» has sufficient engine power to tow a large pelagic trawl at speeds up to 5-6 knots. This is important when representative samples of fast-swimming fish are being taken. There are also two winches for towing plancton sampling equipment.
Two independent drop keels are equipped with a number of acoustic sensors, transducers, for multi frequency acoustic sampling and species identification of fish. Amongst the equipment are also multi-trawl sonars and doppler sonars for measuring the sea currents.
The large midship environmental hangar contains six  winches, each with capacity up to 6,000 metres of cable for lowering instruments to the deepest parts of the sea. One of the winches is loaded with fibre-optic cable, which transfers large quantities of data.

Some more suppliers

Salthaug Sag has delivered trawl line on the deck in 50 mm oak (about 90 m2) and in the hangar deck in 55 mm spruce (about 75 m2). Libra Plast has supplied doors.
Hatch covers have been provided by Nor-Pro AS, and side ports by TTS Ships Equipment AS. Winch equipment is delivered by Bødr. Rogne AS, while Hydralift ASA has supplied cranes, winches and gangways. Blocks have been supplied by Møllerodden, and grates by Rister & Trading AS.
Windows and portholes have been supplied by Bohamet, and Marine Aluminium have delivered windows for the bridge. Wipers are of Wynn make.
The lifesaving equipment consists of lifeboats and davits from Umoe Schat-Harding, a MOB-boat and davit from Norsafe and Viking liferafts. Navigation lights are a delivery from Tranberg, and searchlights come from Norselight. Jotun has provided products for cathodic protection.


«G.O. SARS» is arranged with several laboratories including a hangar operation centre and a research operation centre. The accommodation is made up of 19 single cabins and 13 double berths cabins, and each cabin has its own shower-wc. There is also hospital on board. The furniture and various interior equipment have been provided by Contract Møbler AS and Alfred Sand AS. Both Norac Baggerød and Inexa have delivered interior doors to the vessel. Jets is the supplier of the vacuum toilet system, and Miele and Beha have supplied galley equipment.
Bridge control consoles have been delivered by Elpro Industrier AS, while SAP has supplied pilot chairs. Skan-El Skipsprosjektering AS has been consultants for the electric installations, the intercom system is from Zenitel Marine AS, and Alarm Parts AS have supplied camera equipment. Leif Kølner AS has delivered level switchers.

Electronic equipment

Northrop Grumman Sperry Marine BV has supplied state-of-the-art navigation and communication systems. Sperry Marine has provided a complete navigation and communications suite including an integrated bridge system with Voyage Management System and Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS), dual interswitched X-band and S-Band BridgeMaster E 340 Arpa radars, ADG4000 self-tuning autopilot, dual SR2100 fiber optic gyrocompasses, repeaters and steering indicators, and a full A4 GMDSS communication package. The integrated Bridge System consists of three work stations which can be configured to display radar, ECDIS or conning information.
The E0 alarm system has been supplied by BjørgeSteinco Technology AS, and the Dynamic Positioning system is from Kongsberg Simrad. Tero Marine AS has delivered a maintenance system and Telrad AS has provided antennas for the newbuilding.