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Tuesday, July 2, 2019 

The German polar research ship ‘Polarstern’ has arrived at Lloyd Werft for what is her 70th docking at the Bremerhaven shipyard.

Operated by the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), Polarstern is the most regular customer to dock at the historic yard on the Lower Weser.

"No other ship has docked and been overhauled by us more often than the Polarstern", said Lloyd Werft MD Rüdiger Pallentin. "She first drydocked at the yard on December 22nd 1982."

The 118m long and 25m wide research ship, which draws 11.5m, is due to remain at Lloyd Werft from June 29th to August 10th . During that time and between July 4th and August 2nd she will be drydocked and up on the blocks for bottom work in the yard’s Kaiserdock II. Only a very few dock facilities are capable of handling the research ship because of her deep draught.

The work on Polarstern will include the dismantling and overhaul of her fin stabilisers. Required maintenance work will also be carried out on her propeller, rudder, stern tube sealings and bow thruster while superstructures will get a new coat of paint. In addition, and also during docking, steel works will take place in the tweendecks area of the ship’s funnel while the bow crane will be set up, a new tank heating system installed and a new storage platform for spare parts erected in the helicopter hangar. In the research ship’s interior, 20 baths are being renewed in cabins.

Diverse protective measures are also being undertaken to prepare the ship for the forthcoming Arctic MOSAiC Project and for the over-wintering of Polarstern in the Arctic ice.

Regular maintenance work on the Polar research ship, precisely because of her operations in ice seas, is imperative, since such work takes its toll on the ship’s hull. Contact with ice puts strain on propellers and rudders. Above the surface temperatures which are well below freezing affect the operational behaviour of winches and cranes. The last major general overhaul of the Polarstern took place between 1999 and 2001, during which time the ship was upgraded to what was, for the time, state-of-the-art technical condition.

A successor to the 37-year-old Polarstern is now under consideration. Preliminary planning for a possible new ship has also been underway at Lloyd Werft for a long time and a decision on who will build Polarstern II is expected before the end of this year.

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