The new ship Belgica sails off to new missions


After its launch and long technical preparations in a Spanish shipyard, the future Belgian research vessel of the Federal Science Policy Office (Belspo) is now operational. It replaces the RV Belgica after 37 years of service.

Having been fitted out with all the necessary equipment and state-of-the-art materials thanks to Spanish cooperation in the Vigo shipyard, the new ship belonging to the Belgian institutional partners of Defence, Federal Science Policy and the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS) is about to sail to its home port of Zeebrugge.

At 70 metres long, not only will this new Belgian ship be more spacious but also more sophisticated, more environmentally friendly and quieter than its predecessor from 1984, the RV Belgica. Equipped with state-of-the-art scientific equipment, it will provide more space for scientists and research and will spend about 300 days a year criss-crossing the oceans (compared with 200 days previously).

"With more laboratories and more days at sea, we are doubling the ship's capacity", says project coordinator Lieven Naudts. This is important because for the first time it allows us to offer industry the opportunity to use the ship." This greater interaction between science and industry is primarily a response to a desire to create a new dynamic that can advance the blue economy.

Starting this summer, the Belgica II will be sailing the North Sea to carry out its new scientific and industrial missions.