ABB said it will supply power integration technology to support operations on a new research vessel being built for the MBARI (Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute) at Freire Shipyard in Vigo, Spain.

Earlier this year, MBARI, located in Moss Landing, Calif., announced construction of a new state-of-the-art research vessel designed by Seattle-based Glosten and named in honor of its founder, David Packard. The 50-meter vessel is scheduled to be delivered in 2023.

R/V David Packard will feature a wide scope of ABB’s electric, digital and connected solutions, and will be the world’s first research vessel to feature ABB’s award-winning Onboard DC Grid power system platform.

Onboard DC Grid is particularly well suited for research vessels as its quiet operation on board ensures minimal interference with scientific instruments, as well as enables lower levels of underwater noise radiated below the ship’s hull, ABB said. The system will also help the vessel achieve increased fault tolerance, and with fewer components than a conventional AC solution, it will allow for a flexible placement of electrical equipment on board. In addition to space savings, the Onboard DC Grid setup will save over 2,000 kg, weighing about 30 percent less than a comparable AC system. While optimizing vessel efficiency and responsiveness, Onboard DC Grid will enable MBARI to switch to zero-emission energy sources in the future.

The distributed control system ABB Ability System 800xA will integrate ABB’s digital, power, propulsion, low voltage distribution and vessel management systems into one single-view platform, enabling both crew and onshore teams to get a comprehensive overview of all the information needed to operate the vessel in the safest and most efficient manner. The overall power setup will be controlled by ABB’s Power and Energy Management System (PEMS), which will also increase fault tolerance and provide a high degree of reliability, according to ABB.

R/V David Packard will be connected to ABB Ability Collaborative Operations Center infrastructure, which monitors the performance of ABB technology on board and remotely connects operators with ABB experts.

Upon delivery, the vessel with 18 scientists and a crew of 12 on board will support MBARI’s work to study the depths of Monterey Bay and beyond. The vessel will enable further exploration of the Monterey Canyon – one of the deepest underwater canyons off the west coast of the U.S. that extends more than 470 kilometers offshore and plunges some 4,000 meters deep.

“The R/V David Packard will expand MBARI’s reach and enhance our research capabilities at a time when MBARI’s work to explore and understand the ocean is more important than ever,” said MBARI Director of Marine Operations Michael Kelly.

The David Packard will replace MBARI’s current flagship research vessel, the Western Flyer, which will be retired in fall 2022.

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