OceanXplorer : A superyacht built to research


The 87.1m superyacht-cum-research-vessel, OceanXplorer, has been relaunched from Damen’s shipyard based in Gorinchem, Netherlands following a two-year refit.

She was built in 2010 at the Freire shipyard in Spain and spent her life until now as a deep-sea survey vessel operating from Norway under the name Volstad Surveyor before her current owner acquired her and brought the vessel to the Netherlands for extensive rebuild work in 2018. Formerly known as Alucia2, the vessel will continue the oceanographic work OceanXplorer’s sister ship, Alucia, has been undertaking solely up until now.

“The maiden voyage of OceanXplorer will be chronicled in Mission OceanX, a global, six-episode series and cross-platform event on National Geographic,” OceanX told Superyacht Investor. “The series will be co-produced by BBC Studios’ Natural History Unit and OceanX Media for National Geographic. James Cameron will serve as an executive producer on the series.”

Founded in 2018, OceanX’s mantra is “A mission to explore the oceans and bring them back to the world”. As such, the organisation sought to create a vessel which would enable it to do so. In order to convert the former oil-survey OceanX called upon Damen Ship repair & Conversion to carry out a comprehensive refit.

The work includes installation of scientific laboratories and research facilities into a vessel offering yacht-standard accommodation. A new sensor platform, called the gondola, has been fabricated and installed beneath the keel and feeds information to the research locations and to the brand-new bridge.

Furthermore, the work included closure of the vessel’s moon pool, fabrication of box keel and installation of stabilisers, remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and submersibles that will be launched using a winch and the vessel’s newly installed 40-tonne A-frame. OceanXplorer’s fully independent launch systems provide the capability for its ROVs, submersibles, and helicopter to be launched simultaneously.

Damen’s MD, Jan Kees Pilaar, said, “This has been an exciting project for DSC to undertake and a fantastic opportunity to participate in something with the potential for significant positive impact on our natural environment and the lives of those living on it. The results of the project are very impressive to see, and we are very proud of what has been achieved. 

While it remains to be seen whether OceanXplorer will become available for private charter, her predecessor, Alucia, is available from $280,000 per week.