‘Sonne’ kicks off German research fleet revamp

03 Sep 2014
‘Sonne’ – first of four research newbuilds for Germany

‘Sonne’ – first of four research newbuilds for Germany

German Chancellor Angela Merkel put the finishing touches to the building of Germany’s biggest and most expensive research ship to date by naming and launching the €124.4 million ‘Sonne’.

She’s not seen very often naming or launching ships and the reason for her turning out this summer was because the 116m long and 20.6m wide Sonne is the latest addition to the German Government’s ocean-going research fleet and one of four sophisticated ships being introduced up to the end of the decade to replace older vessels.

Ms Merkel unveiled the 8,600gt Sonne at inland cruise ship builder Neptun Werft in Rostock-Warnemuende, a subsidiary of Meyer Werft. The ship was first ordered at Neptun before being transferred to Meyer for completion at a time when Neptun was bulging with inland cruise ship work and the Papenburg parent yard had spare capacity to fill.

Sonne replaces a 45 year old, 97.6m long and 14.2m namesake which is still in operation and will serve until next January when the new ship goes into service.

The new Sonne is a spectacular multi-purpose work horse of 8.600gt and 6,480kW providing 12 knots and drawing 6.4m. Her engine configuration has not yet been reported but she is already being billed as particularly eco-friendly and energy efficient as well as quiet running and vibration-free.

Her sea trials, which included bollard pull tests at ADM Kiel, were described as “impressive” and Sonne is now being fitted out. Meyer Werft chief Bernard Meyer said building the new ship had been “a big challenge” from the design, building and technological aspect.

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