Skibsingeniørfirmaet Knud E. Hansen

New Arctic research ship on the way

Tuesday 23 Mar 21


Colin Andrew Stedmon
DTU Aqua
+45 35 88 34 10


Dennis Lisbjerg
Senior Executive Officer
DTU Aqua
+45 35 88 33 45

In autumn 2020, government funding for a new ocean-going research ship finally fell into place. This will replace Dana IV, Denmark’s only marine research ship that can sail in the Arctic region.


Denmark has a long tradition of conducting marine research. With a new ocean-going research ship that can sail in ice, Denmark can continue to contribute to international research partnerships.

The focus on marine research will increase over the next ten years as a result of the UN’s ‘Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development’.

With its own ship, Denmark will not depend on other countries for access to the right infrastructure.

Understanding the role of the sea in the climate, and the impact of climate change on the sea, has also become more urgent.

The ship can also aid research into sustainable fishing in the Arctic region, in collaboration with Greenland. Products from fishing account for almost 90 per cent of Greenland’s exports.


The ship will be 65 metres long, 15.6 metres wide, and have a draught of 5.4 metres.


14 people and room for 20 researchers.

Research facilities

The new ship will be quiet in operation and must meet strict limits on the release of underwater noise, which can affect acoustic sensors. Plans for the ship include a number of new hull-mounted sensors, and a drop keel that will allow sensors to be lowered beneath the air bubbles which form along the hull. The drop keel will also allow sensor types to be replaced without docking the ship. The ship will also be equipped with modern sampling equipment.

What research? 



Research into the physical, chemical, and biological properties and elements of the sea, such as marine life, temperature and salt levels, currents, waves, and the ocean’s interaction with the atmosphere. The research will provide fundamental knowledge of the ocean, and include investigation of marine microorganisms and their role in the ocean’s ability to absorb atmospheric CO2. It will also investigate the role of the sea in the climate, particularly in the Arctic region where climate change is very evident.

Marine geology

It will include mapping the seabed to gain useful knowledge for fishing, tourism, resource extraction, and possible future mining, and research into past biological and chemical signals from the climate and sea stored in the seabed (palaeoceanography).

Fishing research

This research provides the scientific foundation for sustainable utilization of the sea. In addition to monitoring fish stocks, researchers are working to understand marine ecosystems and the impact of fishing on these systems.

High ice class

The ship is being built to Finnish-Swedish ice class 1A. This means the hull will be reinforced so that the vessel can sail in waters covered with ice up to 1 metre thick. The ship will comply with the new IMO ice class B IACS PC6 polar class rules, and thus have a higher polar class approval than Dana IV.


The new ship is to be ready in 2025. The current ocean-going, high ice class, research ship—Dana IV—will be retired, and has had 40 years at sea to date.

Number of expected sailing days

Up to 290 sailing days per year, which is more than Dana IV. 

Who will operate the vessel? 

DTU will be in charge of the operating the ship, but all Danish research environments will have access to it through the Danish Centre for Marine Research—a joint collaboration initiative between all Danish marine research institutions, coordinated by the secretariat at DTU Aqua.


The ship will cost DKK 320 million in total. DTU is investing DKK 100 million, the Danish Government is contributing DKK 170 million, and DTU expects to obtain grants from foundations to cover the remainder.

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