First Commercial Icebreaking Research Ship Delivered By North American

The culmination of two years of construction, the R/V Nathaniel B.

Palmer emerged from the Larose, La., shipyard of North American Shipbuilding as the nation's first commercial icebreaking research ship.

Able to break ice three feet thick at a speed of three knots, the pioneering 308-foot vessel is operated under the direction of Antarctic Support Associates (ASA), a joint venture of Holmes & Narver, Services, Inc., Orange, Calif., and EG&G, Inc., Wellesley, Mass., for the National Science Foundation (NSF) U.S. Antarctic Program. Developed for the express purpose of supporting research in Antarctica, the Palmer is owned by Edison Chouest Offshore, Galliano, La., the parent company of North American Shipbuilding.

The Port of South Louisiana activated Foreign Trade Zone #124-B, a subzone of the port's main zone, for North American Shipbuilding to help the shipyard meet the specifications of international shipbuilding contracts and still maintain competitive pricing.

Ice classed to new ABS rules, ABS A-2, the Palmer can navigate rough open seas, rolling less than 8 degrees in 16-foot waves and can accommodate 37 scientists and 26 crew.

The 6,500-long ton ship's maiden assignment involves the rotation of scientists from a mile long ice floe where the first Russian-American ice station was launched in mid- February in Antarctica's Weddell Sea. The Ice Cap '92 project is gathering data on global climate and ocean currents that are key to determining the effects of global warming.

Included in the Palmer's sophisticated electronics suite is Robertson's Disc Navigation System, an Electronic Charts Display and Information System (ECDIS). It is a real-time geographic information system that combines both spatial and text data to continuously determine the vessel's position in relation to land, charted or observed objects, glaciers, or ice packs, and unseen hazards, providing the vessel with an extra margin of safety.

The Palmer's ECDIS will also output position data to the Robertson Dynamic Positioning System which will allow the Palmer to negotiate into and out of, or through areas that require special low-speed maneuvering.

The Robertson RMP ROBPOS permits the operator joystick control of all engines, propellers, thrusters and rudder.

Robertson also supplied its MSS400 steering controls for operation of the vessel's two high-lift, independently controlled rudders.

Main propulsion for the Palmer is provided by four Caterpillar 3608 diesels, rated at 3.180 bhp each at 1,000 rpm, with two nozzled Ulstein stainless steel, controllable-pitch four-blade propellers.

Four Caterpillar/KATO 3512 gensets, rated at 1,070 kw each, supply ship service power.

Two Ulstein 1,500-hp direct drive diesel bow thrusters and one 800-hp tunnel stern thruster are installed for maneuverability.

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Maritime Reporter Magazine, page 84,  May 1992

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Maritime Reporter

First published in 1881 Maritime Reporter is the world's largest audited circulation publication serving the global maritime industry.