Love Our Oceans

Into the Unknown

with OceanXplorer

The most advanced exploration, research, and media vessel ever built.

From day one, Ray Dalio’s vision behind the redesign and rebuild of OceanXplorer was very clear – ‘to create the most cutting-edge, futuristic ocean exploration ship on the water with every detail developed and executed by a team of experts. A vehicle to explore the world and bring it back to society, to excite and inspire a lot of people’. In this unique look behind the scenes, we follow OceanXplorer’s journey from vision to mission, celebrating the vessel and inspiring others to love, understand and protect our oceans.

Starship Vision

Everything about the vision for OceanXplorer was about pushing the boundaries as we know them. The result of a determined ambition to make a difference and be different. Bringing together the best scientists, explorers, shipbuilders and media people – each the best in the world – to be able to collaborate and visualise something that has never been done before. As Mr. Dalio himself has said, ‘OceanXplorer is a Hubble or a voyager or a Starship Enterprise. No ship has ever been built like it. It will enable film makers, scientists and explorers to get out there and find things we truly don’t know are there yet.’

Research Reality

The task of turning such an ambitious vision into reality was the responsibility of the experienced OceanX team. They wanted a vessel that was extremely capable as a scientific research platform. One where they could do all the types of experiments they would do in an academic laboratory as well as give them a chance to discover things in real time and expand on those discoveries whilst still on location. It also needed to be so technologically advanced that it could carry enough people and enough modern tools to the world’s most remote and hostile locations to explore in a way that has never been done before.

“OceanX’s core mission is exploring the ocean and bringing it back to the world.’’

“OceanXplorer has been designed to make the most ambitious, difficult ocean exploration dreams possible. It’s a crucial time right now to have a vehicle like this built with the sole mission of revealing to the world the ocean in all its absolute beauty and grandeur. My hope and dream for this vessel is in 15 years we’ll look back and much like space exploration vehicles, we’ll see a shift in human knowledge and human understanding about the ocean and also an enrichment of human life.”

Vincent Pieribone – Vice Chairman of OceanX.

Storytelling Mission

The need to know more about our oceans in order to protect them is on the increase. And with human activities dramatically impacting the health of our oceans, the research capabilities of OceanXplorer have never been more important. A guiding principle of OceanX is the notion that having humans directly exploring the ocean plays a key role in ocean exploration and storytelling. They want the audience to see the full art of the science that’s happening. The onboard technology allows the crew to bring extreme oceanography, marine biology and ocean exploration to the deepest parts of the ocean and also capture it in the most beautiful and meaningful way. To reveal to the public the amazing things that really only scientists and oceanographers normally get to see and to bring the same global attention to and enthusiasm for ocean exploration that space expedition has.

360 Experience

With over 80% of our oceans unmapped and unexplored, the tasks ahead of the OceanXplorer crew are by no means small, but neither is the intention. The design and layout accommodate the huge ambition to cover exploration all the way to discovery, bringing everything together on board in the same context. This is a vessel equipped and designed to explore new areas and map it out with acoustic equipment enabling scientists on board to go from knowing nothing to understanding a whole new ecosystem all from this boat.

The onboard technology allows the crew to bring the same global attention to and enthusiasm for ocean exploration that space expedition has.

OceanXplorer is a Hubble or a voyager or a Starship Enterprise. No ship has ever been built like it. It will enable film makers, scientists and explorers to get out there and find things we truly don’t know are there yet.

State of the Art

OceanXplorer features complete integration of all the ship’s systems including specialist hydrographic and laboratory systems as well as a state-of-the-art IT system. And it’s this IT backbone which supports not only the high-end science, but also the onboard 8K video editing and production facilities with Hollywood quality filming and media studios – developed in partnership with renowned filmmaker James Cameron. Furthermore, it supports visiting scientists bringing their own machines and servers, all without compromising the security of the ship’s vital systems.

Science Set Up

In line with the research vision behind OceanXplorer, the vessel is equipped with all the necessary facilities imaginable. There are three new dry labs – one with a ‘catwalk’ mezzanine access above the submarine hangar. On Main Deck next to the ROV hangar, there are workshops, a CTD-senor hangar and deployment system, a wet lab and cold tank room. These four labs include microscopy, aquarium tanks for studying marine samples and genetic sequencing equipment. Underneath the vessel there is also the so-called “gondola” which is a hydrodynamic housing for the cutting-edge sonar equipment.

INTO THE DEEP

The large mission control room is the ship’s central nervous system operating remote deep-sea vehicles and compiling data collected from all kinds of sensors. A deck down, there is the complete new dive centre with wet room, side boarding gate, dive decompression chamber, dive compressor room and gas storage. There is also a moon pool for launching divers and subs inside the boat which is closed off for improve buoyancy.

In short, OceanXplorer has everything in place for all missions into the deep. As OceanX themselves perfectly describe it, this is a media facility of ‘Hollywood production quality embedded inside a world-class research facility.’

In July 2020, OceanXplorer left Damen Shiprepair Rotterdam following an extensive redesign and rebuild of the vessel previously known as Alucia 2. This complex and challenging project’s extensive scope of work brought together various disciplines from across Damen Shipyards Group including offshore and survey newbuild, repair & conversion and yachting specialisms.

OceanXplorer at a glance

  • Refit Damen Shiprepair Rotterdam
    (87.10 metres)
  • Delivery 2020 (built by C.N.P. Freire in 2010)
  • Interior Design by Steve Gresham Design &
    Christina Fallah Design
  • Exterior Design by Steve Gresham Design
  • Naval Architecture by Skipsteknisk

Did you enjoy this article from our Finest Moments Autumn 2021 edition? Make sure you don’t miss our next Finest Moments edition!