Alewijnse Marine Systems has won a significant order for the refit of the key electrical systems on board RV Belgica, an oceanographic research vessel owned by the Belgian state. Prior to the assignment, Alewijnse carried out a year-long research project on a limited lifetime extension of the vessel. The refit will start in April 2016 and take several months to complete.
RV Belgica celebrated her 30th anniversary in 2014 and renovations are necessary for the ship to continue in active service for another seven years. The vessel is the subject of a maintenance agreement between the Belgian Navy and Damen Shiprepair Dunkerque.
Close relationship with Damen
Damen Shiprepair Dunkerque, part of Damen Shiprepair & Conversion (DSC), chose Alewijnse for the project based in part on the close working relationship that the two companies have established. Alewijnse has undertaken projects at a number of DSC’s yards, including those at Dunkerque, Vlissingen, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Den Helder. Alewijnse has also successfully serviced equipment on board RV Belgica a number of times in the past. Most recently, in 2015, it was contracted to renew damaged cables and replace some of the starter panels for various pumps and engines as a result of water damage. Those repairs were carried out at the Naval Base in Zeebrugge.
Wide range of skills and capabilities
This significant order for Alewijnse of the RV Belgica refit demonstrates the wide range of skills and capabilities that the company can bring to projects of this complexity. Its role in the refit will see Alewijnse working on a number of critical systems. Projects will include the refit of the main switchboard and the replacement of the batteries, CCP system, the control system on diesel equipment in the ECR panel and the navigation lights. The partial replacement of the window wiper system and a bridge console, and the addition to the fire detection system of a repeater panel and CCTV system are among the other activities to be undertaken. Alewijnse will also deliver new wing panels and a completely new alarm and monitoring system, and perform additional critical support activities such as system commissioning.
RV Belgica is owned by the Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO) on behalf of the Belgian State and is managed by the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS). The Belgian Navy provides the crew, operational support and a dock at the vessel’s home port of Zeebrugge. The vessel was christened in 1984 by Queen Fabiola, and is 50.9 metres long, 10 metres wide and draws 4.6 metres. She displaces 1,200 tonnes.
Maritime scientific research
The ship is made available to Belgian scientists to carry out maritime scientific research. Activities include the monitoring of the water quality of the North Sea, where scientists continuously collect data on the biological, chemical, physical, geological and hydrodynamic processes in the region. In addition, RV Belgica acts as a floating laboratory for researchers from Belgian universities and scientific institutes seeking to enlarge their knowledge of the marine environment.