University of Gothenburg
On board Skagerak
Photo: Peter Tellberg

Background & history

In 2021, RV Skagerak was ready for world-class marine research. But it was as early as 2012, that the University of Gothenburg decided to build a new research ship to meet the challenges and changes in the oceans.

Acidification, overfishing, exploitation of coastal and marine areas, global warming and environmental toxins. These are just some of the problems threatening the marine environment. 

In order to manage these developments in the long term, we need to understand the sea better now. Research and science are essential to give us a better insight into the complex processes that are constantly taking place in the ocean.

On board Skagerak, researchers work in marine chemistry, oceanography, marine geology, atmospheric chemistry and marine biology. Skagerak is like a floating, high-tech marine research station that can reach the ocean areas that need to be studied - in depth.

Skagerak in Greenland.
Photo: University Gothenburg

A unique research infrastructure

It was in 2012 that the Board of the University of Gothenburg decided to replace the older research vessels, which were considered obsolete, with a new vessel.
For some time, there had been discussions about the need for a research vessel that could meet future demands for technology and flexibility in order to provide the conditions for world-leading research.

Old Skagerajk
The older research ship at the University of Gothenburg was also called Skagerak.
Photo: Anna-Lena Lundqvist

A feasibility study, written by project manager Anders Backman, Lovén Centre director Katarina Abrahamsson and naval architect Jan Bergholtz, emphasised the importance of the new vessel being a "very safe platform for a variety of marine research operations" and "capable of carrying out most of the current missions of a different nature, as well as those planned for the future, for a period of at least 25 years".

Researchers on board from the beginning

The reference group for the preliminary study consisted of both researchers and users from different disciplines. It included researchers from marine chemistry, oceanography, marine geology, atmospheric chemistry, marine biology, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), the environmental coordinator at the Faculty of Science and representatives from the crew of the research vessel that was later replaced by the new vessel Skagerak.

I think it is important to emphasise that the ship would not have been as good as it is if the researchers themselves had not been involved in the construction process at an early stage, and that it is a collaboration between different disciplines.

// Katarina Abrahamsson, Professor of Marine Chemistry, Project Group 2012-2021

Skagerak in Nauta
Skagerak in Nauta in Poland.
Photo: University of Gothenburg

The new research ship under construction

Early in the process, renowned naval architect Jan Bergholtz was engaged to design the new research vessel. With extensive experience in hull modelling and design from the Swedish National Ship Testing Institute (SSPA), Jan Bergholtz was able to design a vessel that had all the characteristics required for the new research vessel. These range from the fact that Skagerak does not vibrate when underway to the fact that sensitive sensors are not affected by air bubbles that would interfere with measurements at sea. Skagerak is also fuel efficient.
Skagerak was built at the Polish shipyard Nauta and completed at Falkevarv in Falkenberg. The total cost for the research vessel was 221 million SEK.

Skagerak in Falkenberg
Skagerak in Falkenberg, Sweden.
Photo: Göteborgs Universitet

A Royal inauguration

15 October 2021, the University of Gothenburg's state-of-the-art research vessel Skagerak was inaugurated.

H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf was present at the event, and County Governor Anders Danielsson emphasised in his speech how we humans affect the sea, but that the sea also affects us. He put it this way: "There is a lot going on that we do not yet understand, but Skagerak will increase knowledge, both about the sea and about ourselves."

Inauguration of R/V Skagerak
The Swedish king, Carl XVI Gustaf at the inauguration in 2021.
Photo: Johan Wingborg