VESSEL REVIEW | Simon Bolivar – Polar-capable research ship delivered to Colombian Navy

Photo: MarineTraffic/Antonio Colmenares

The Colombian Navy has placed a new oceanographic research vessel into service following its construction at the facilities of local shipyard Cotecmar.

ARC Simon Bolivar was named in honour of the famed military and political leader who became Colombia’s first President in 1819. Design work on the vessel was provided by Cotecmar in collaboration with Dutch shipbuilder the Damen Shipyards Group.

The new research ship has a length of 83 metres, a beam of 16 metres, a draught of 4.25 metres, and a displacement of 3,200 tonnes, making it what Damen claims is the largest vessel ever to be built in Colombia. In addition to the crew, up to 60 researchers can be embarked at any given time.

Two Caterpillar 1,491kW diesel engines drive 2.6-metre controllable-pitch propellers via Reintjes gearboxes to deliver a maximum speed of 13 knots and a cruising speed of 11 knots.

Photo: Cotecmar

Simon Bolivar is equipped for multi-disciplinary scientific operations with individual onboard laboratories dedicated to fields such as geology, hydrography, and geophysics. Its area of operations will encompass the waters from just off the Colombian coast to portions of Antarctica and also including the Caribbean Sea. Research trips can last up to 90 days thanks to the vessel’s endurance.

To aid in its research missions, the ship has specialised equipment such as an underwater acoustic positioning system, acoustic navigation sensors to enable sailings even in low visibility, a stern-mounted A-frame, and stowage facilities for a remotely operated vehicle (ROV). The polar class hull is capable of breaking through surface ice 40 centimetres thick while all interior spaces are heated to enable sustained operations in Antarctic waters during the region’s summer months.

Located aft are a flight deck for use with a utility helicopter and an open deck that can accommodate two 20-foot ISO containers that are configured to serve as additional laboratories if needed.

As a Colombian Navy asset, the ship is also capable of undertaking secondary missions such as search and rescue (SAR) and marine environmental protection.

Simon Bolivar was designed to satisfy the requirements of both DNV’s Silent(A) water radiated noise emission and Lloyd’s Register’s Ice Class 1C FS notations.

ARC Simon Bolivar
Type of vessel:Research vessel
Classification:DNV; Lloyd’s Register
Owner:Colombian Navy
Designer:Damen Shipyards Group, Netherlands
Builder:Cotecmar, Colombia
Length overall:83 metres
Beam:16 metres
Draught:4.25 metres
Displacement:3,200 tonnes
Main engines:2 x Caterpillar, each 1,491 kW
Gearboxes:2 x Reintjes
Propulsion:2 x controllable-pitch propellers
Maximum speed:13 knots
Cruising speed:11 knots
Other electronics:Acoustic positioning system; acoustic navigation sensors
Other equipment installed:A-frame
Type of fuel:Diesel
Operational areas:Antarctica; Caribbean Sea

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