March 28, 2000
Japan Marine Science and Technology Center
The Japan Marine Science and Technology Center (President: Takuya Hirano) entered into a contract with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. on the 27th of March in 2000 for building the“deep-sea drilling vessel” (building its hull and outfitting it with engines, generators and other machines). The parties agreed that Mitsui Shipbuilding & Engineering Co., Ltd. would be duly appointed as their subcontractor to outfit the vessel with a DPS (Note 1) and provide the related services under this contract.
The “deep-sea drilling vessel” is known as the best scientific drilling vehicle in the world. It employs new automation and other technologies for operating the drawworks (Note 2) having the greatest capacity of drilling at the depths of water in the world, handling riser pipes, etc. Under the severe meteorological conditions in the atmosphere and oceans in the world, these technologies can be used to carry out drilling works at the depth of about 2,500m (or 4,000m in the future), and finally drill to the mantle.
To contribute to the general knowledge in the geo-science and life science, this vessel will be operated to explicate the global change mechanism including climate changes and earthquakes, and explore the unknown underground biosphere, gas hydrates and other resources. This vessel will act the key role in implementing the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) prepared mainly by U.S.A. and Japan.
Concerning this vessel, technological examinations were instituted in 1990, and investigations have been made on the basic specifications (such as the sizes of vessel, the drilling depth, etc.) as a part of the “whole system” research that started to be conducted in 1995.
To build this vessel, it was necessary to develop a new sophisticated technology. In June 1999, the technological abilities of domestic shipbuilders were evaluated by the Assessment Committee for the deep-sea drilling vessel Building Yards, made up by learned and experienced members (Chairperson: Honorary Prof. Noriyuki Nasu, the University of Tokyo). The Committee issued its report, stating that “it would be appropriate to consign the designing and building works for the exploration vessel and the general management of these works to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd., which was only one domestic company experienced in designing (from the basic to the final design) and building a riser drilling vessel, and had an excellent technology related to risers or the most important components of the drilling system”.
Based upon this report, the Center passed the order of basic designing to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in October 1999, and the basic design was completed in February 2000. Based upon the results of basic designing, we considered that it would be appropriate to build the vessel according to the conclusion of the report, and entered into the contract with the company.
The vessel is scheduled to be completed in 2004.
Note 1: The DPS (Dynamic Positioning System) is a system
that can maintain a vessel
within the fixed range of positions during drilling.
Note 2: The drawworks mean a hoisting winch to lift and support long pipes.
Fujita, Marine Technology Department,
Japan Marine Science and Technology Center, Tel: 0468-67-3848
Taya and Kobayashi, Public Relations, Training and Education Division,
Administration Department, Tel: 0468-67-3806