Billionaire funding the world’s largest yacht to research saving the oceans

A Norwegian billionaire is building the world’s largest superyacht. The 181.6-meter (596-foot) REV, Research Expedition Vessel, is being built at Norway’s Vard shipyard. REV will be available for scientists and explorers worldwide to conduct research focused on relieving pressure on the world’s oceans and the wildlife that live within them.

Kjell Inge Røkke is funding and partnering with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in the ship’s design and facilities to support a variety of research efforts. REV will be launched mid-year in 2020.

The vessel will be fitted with the latest equipment for studying marine areas, currents, fish, animals, and plant life. Onboard laboratory facilities with the newest equipment and an auditorium for lectures and debates will support research done on the vessel. State of the art communications systems will be available for live-streaming work on REV.

Ongoing operations and maintenance expenses for REV will be supported by charter cruises. The yacht will be available for recreation and expeditions and will also be available for use by groups conducting scientific studies and training. Røkke and his family will charter REV at times, paying the same as any other private parties.

The video below shows how REV’s moonpool will allow underwater launching and retrieval.

REV will be powered by a hybrid diesel-electric system of generators, electric propulsion motors, and controllable pitch tunnel thrusters. The propulsion motors will have 5-blade controllable pitch propellers optimized for quiet operation. REV’s green features are too many to list here, but a partial list includes synthetic deck covers, underwater noise pollution prevention, ballast water treatment to prevent species cross-contamination, and LED lighting throughout.

All waste materials including plastics will be incinerated with a high-tech system that restricts the generation of toxic gases. REV will have efficient heat recovery systems and a “free cool” air conditioning system to reduce power consumption by using sea water when it’s cold enough.

The video below explains REV’s drop keels, sonars, and control room.

Top speed will be 17 knots, but at her 11-knot cruising speed, with a 50-percent service weight load, REV’s 21,120 nautical mile range will almost stretch around the globe.

REV’s planned kit of research equipment and systems also goes on and on. In addition to two helipads for drones and helicopters, REV will have a 7.7-meter moonpool that allows direct water access under the yacht for submarines and other submersible craft.

The video below details REV’s pelagic trawling system.

Space onboard REV accommodates 90 people depending on the vessel’s use. When used for research, REV has space for 60 scientists and 40 crew — we’re guessing 10 or more scientists would work in shifts. Expedition ratings are 30 crew, 24 scientists, and 36 passengers. If REV is used as a regular yacht she’ll house 54 crew members and 36 guests.

To be sure everyone gets fed on long voyages, REV stores provisions for 90 persons for 114 days. For even longer trips, one or more reefer containers (the refrigerated container variety) secured on REV’s deck can hold 20 extra days of provisions per reefer.

REV will have another feature that hasn’t been invented yet. While the yacht is being built, other people on the team are working to figure out ways to collect plastic waste from the ocean when the ship is in motion. Oceanic plastic pollution is causing significant damage in the marine food chain and the team’s plan is to devise methods to pull the plastic onboard to be incinerated.

While the costs to build and equip REV are not public, they are obviously immense. It’s hard to conceive that an institution, a company, or even a nation would fund a vessel that size for research. In this case, one of Norway’s richest citizens is footing the bill.