N/R Laura Bassi in Trieste for extraordinary refitting

The only Italian oceanographic research icebreaker will receive new equipment for the coming Arctic campaign

31 March 2021

TRIESTE, MARCH 31, 2021 – The icebreaker N/R Laura Bassi, the only Italian oceanographic research vessel, owned by the National Institute of Oceanography and Applied Geophysics - OGS arrived today at the Fincantieri shipyard Arsenale Triestino San Marco (ATSM) in Trieste, back from its mission in Antarctica. Here, the unit will undergo an important and delicate work completing its scientific equipment for the study and exploration of the entire marine ecosystem. At the end of these operations, which will last about 2 months, N/R Laura Bassi will be engaged in her first scientific campaign in the Arctic.

Works on the most important vessel of the National Institute of Oceanography and Applied Geophysics - OGS will be carried out by Fincantieri, together with a group of local companies.


The N/R Laura Bassi will be equipped with a set of new instrumentations, which will make the vessel even more efficient during her scientific campaigns and as a result more attractive for the national and international research system. In detail, two new three-dimensional mapping seabed systems will be installed, as well as scientific sonars able to map shoals of fish deep under the sea, and innovative systems allowing to "see" inside the earth for over 3,000 meters. Seafloor sampling and coring systems will also be installed, as well as equipment measuring tides at depth while the ship is cruising.


The operation is made possible thanks to the contributions from the National Research Program in Antarctica (Programma Nazionale di Ricerche in Antartide, PNRA) and from the National Institute of Oceanography and Applied Geophysics - OGS, which has received specific funding from the Ministry for this project.


The iceabreaker N/R Laura Bassi arrived in Trieste, following her second expedition to the South Pole within 12 months, the 36th expedition of the National Research Program in Antarctica (PNRA), funded by the Italian Ministry of University and Research, managed by the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA) concerning the planning and logistical organization, and by the National Research Council (CNR) with regards to scientific planning and coordination. Once works will be completed, the ship will head north for its first scientific campaign in the Arctic expected to last two months.


We are particularly proud to be able to equip the N/R Laura Bassi with new instrumentations", stated Nicola Casagli, President of OGS. "The ship we purchased just over a year ago has already confirmed itself as an extremely valuable infrastructure for the whole Italian research system. The cooperation with Fincantieri, which with OGS does not only share the birthplace of Trieste but also striving for excellence, will allow us to further expand the vessel's scientific capacity”.


“With Fincantieri we have found a partner with a solid experience, able to understand our technical needs, as well as our urgent demands which require to have the equipment activity carried out quickly and between one scientific campaign and the other”, continued Franco Coren, Director of the OGS Naval Infrastructure Management Center.


This operation represents a strong acknowledgment of Fincantieri’s skills”, said Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri. "Every project involving vessels intended to operate specifically at the poles, in the most extreme marine environments on the planet, requires the highest technological standards that the industry can express, especially for a state-of-the-art ship such as the research Laura Bassi. We are aware that the cooperation with a partner of international prestige such as OGS consolidates our references also in the scientific field”.


Agostino Vidulli, Director of Fincantieri ATSM shipyard, commented: “The refitting activity raises real engineering challenges. The removal of an approximately 40 square meters portion of the bottom of the hull will be the focus of the project, as well as its reconstruction by joining an underground structure for the housing of research equipment. This step must be carried out with the utmost precision, as it will determine the thoroughness of future measurements. We have no doubt that our shipyard will be able to rise up to such an ambitious task”.