Tender for successor to Polarstern aborted | Polarjournal
The German research vessel “Polarstern” in the central Arctic. The new construction of the “Polarstern II”, which is now planned, will meet all the requirements of a modern research icebreaker. (Photo: Mario Hoppmann)

On February 14, 2020, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research cancelled the Europe-wide tender for the procurement of a new polar research vessel, the “Polarstern II”, for legal reasons. In times of unresolved climate issues, the AWI research mission can only be fulfilled in the long term with a modern icebreaker. This understanding is also shared by the BMBF.

The research icebreaker “Polarstern” during the MOSAiC expedition. The picture was taken on October 1, 2019. (Photo: Marcel Nicolaus)

From the above, the AWI will work intensively with the BMBF on a solution that will also has the goal of setting up a new tender procedure. Among other things, the experience gained from the ongoing MOSAiC expedition will be incorporated into the planning in order to develop a sustainable, high-performance and high-performance icebreaker that is as sustainable as possible.

The icebreaker “Polarstern” is the emblem of German polar research. polar research. Commissioned in 1982, the research vessel has completed over 120 expeditions to the expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic, covering 1.7 million nautical miles. The ship is in operation on an average of 310 days a year. and also addresses crucial issues relating to climate change.

The German research icebreaker “Polarstern” in the central Arctic, photo from the summer expedition 2015. (Photo: Mario Hoppmann)

“We are proud of our “Polarstern”, which is currently drifting past the North Pole in the polar night under extreme conditions with the Arctic sea ice – even though it is now almost 40 years old. The ship is a powerful instrument for polar and marine research. Over the past decades, not only many colleagues at AWI but also scientists from all over the world have been able to see this for themselves. I myself appreciate this unique ship very much after numerous expeditions as cruise director,” says Prof. Antje Boetius, Director of the Alfred Wegener Institute.

Prof. Dr. Antje Boetius, marine biologist and professor at the University of Bremen, she has headed the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven since November 2017. (Photo: Kerstin Rolfes)

“That’s why we will now do everything we can to ensure that a new procedure is set up and that we get a successor building as soon as possible in coordination with the BMBF. Until then, we must take good care of our powerful ship so that we can find answers to the pressing questions about the future of our planet through its use in the polar regions in the years to come.

The cancellation of the placing procedure, which has now become known, is of course a new challenge. In the long term, without a modern research icebreaker, we cannot 100 percent fulfill the mission we have been given by society. In addition, expeditions with the “Polarstern” make a significant and internationally visible contribution to Germany achieving its goals in research and sustainability. We know from discussions that the BMBF fully shares this view. We will also see the latest development as an opportunity, because the demands on a modern research icebreaker have increased significantly in the years since the placing procedure has now been terminated. This teaches us both the current MOSAiC expedition and the development of icebreakers by our international partners. In this respect these empirical values must now also be incorporated into an placing process.

On December 9, 1982, the “Polarstern” was put into service and has since collected data for research and science in 120 expeditions in the Arctic and Antarctic. In her honor, the deep-sea trench Polarstern Canyon and the submarine reef rock Polarstern Knoll are named in Antarctica. (Photo: Mario Hoppmann)

In the new planning, we will consider technical solutions that were hardly conceivable ten years ago. Our goal is a high-performance icebreaker that is applicable to the new ice conditions. On our research expeditions, for example, we will use more and more powerful robots under water in the future, which we can now take into account even more when planning a new ship. At the same time, we rely on innovations for the most sustainable ship operation possible. In this way, Germany will continue to succeed in maintaining a leading role in polar and marine research.”

Source: AWI Bremerhaven

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