RV Laura Bassi icebreaker

Former names: RRS Ernest Shackleton, MV Polar Queen

RV Laura Bassi icebreaker current position

RV Laura Bassi icebreaker current location is at West Mediterranean (coordinates 40.84246 N / 14.27207 E) cruising en route to NAPOLI. The AIS position was reported 12 minutes ago.

Current Position

Specifications of RV Laura Bassi icebreaker

Year of build1995  /  Age: 29
Flag state Italy
BuilderSwan Hunter (Wallsend, Tyne and Wear, England)
Classdiesel icebreaker (polar research ship)
Speed14 kn / 26 km/h / 16 mph
Length (LOA)80 m / 262 ft
Beam (width)17 m / 56 ft
Gross Tonnage4028 gt
Decks with cabins2
Last Refurbishment2019
Former namesRRS Ernest Shackleton, MV Polar Queen
OwnerDSB (Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche)
OperatorCNR (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche)

RV Laura Bassi icebreaker Review

Review of RV Laura Bassi icebreaker

RV Laura Bassi (fka "RRS Ernest Shackleton") is an icebreaking vessel used primarily as a logistics (research/survey/cargo) supply ship serving polar (Arctic-Antarctic) scientific research operations. When operated by the UK, itineraries were roundtrips to Antarctics from homeport Port Stanley (Falkland Islands). When not in Antarctica, the icebreaker was open for private charters for expedition cruises. "RV" stands for "Research Vessel". "RRS" stands for "Royal Research Ship".

RRS Ernest Shackleton was bareboat chartered from the former shipowner (GC Rieber Shipping /Bergen Norway) to the UK's Royal Geographic Society. The charter ended on April 30, 2019. On May 9, 2019, the vessel was sold (for EUR 12 million / ~USD 14M) to DSB (Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche/Italy's Department of Biomedical Sciences), renamed "LAURA BASSI" and went to Norway for a drydock refit. Since then, the ship is operated by CNR (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche/Italy's National Research Council).

RV Laura Bassi icebreaker ship (RRS Ernest Shackleton)

Royal research ships are the UK's merchant navy vessels conducting scientific research for the British Government (HMG). The list of organizations that are allowed to operate RRS vessels includes NERC (abbrev "Natural Environment Research Council"), BAS (abbrev "British Antarctic Survey") and NOC (abbrev "National Oceanography Centre"). However, a warrant from the British monarch has required a vessel to be designated as RRS. The UK's current fleet of Royal Research Ships includes the following vessels (the year built in brackets): RRS James Cook (2007), RRS Discovery (2013), RRS Sir David Attenborough (2019).

RV Laura Bassi icebreaker ship (RRS Ernest Shackleton)

The icebreaking ship (IMO number 9114256) was launched under the name "MV Polar Queen". The former shipowner (GC Rieber Shipping) operates offshore and subsea support vessels, as well as marine seismic vessels. Some of its ships are operated under charter on logistics, research, and polar cruise expeditions.

For 20 years (between August 1999 and May 2019), RRS Ernest Shackleton was operated by BAS (British Antarctic Survey) on a long-term bareboat charter. The ship was named after Sir Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922) - a British polar explorer who led three British Antarctic expeditions - "Discovery Expedition" (1901-1903), "Nimrod Expedition" (1907-1909), and "Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition" (1914-1917).

Prior to 2019, the vessel was Falklands UK-flagged (MMSI 740357000) and registered in Port Stanley. Since 2019, the vessel is Italy-flagged (MMSI 247405400).

RV Laura Bassi icebreaker ship (RRS Ernest Shackleton)

The Ernest Shackleton ship gained worldwide popularity after it was chartered to Crystal Cruises to escort the cruise ship Crystal Serenity through the Canadian Arctic itinerary route Northwest Passage in 2016 (August 16 through September 16, from Seward Alaska to NYC New York).


CNR (Italy's National Research Council/shipowner) is a Rome-headquartered public organization that supports scientific and technological research. CNR supervises the programs and activities of numerous scientific research institutes in Italy, as well as the country's departments of Biomedical Sciences, Physical Sciences and Technologies, Earth System Sciences and Environmental Technologies, Chemical Sciences and Materials, Engineering-Energy-Transportation Technologies, Agricultural and Food Sciences, Humanities and Social Sciences.

Laura Bassi/Shackleton icebreaker vessel details

The icebreaker features an ice-strengthened double hull and ice-capacity up to 2,5 m (8 ft). The vessel has a cargo tender used for ship-to-shore operations (transfer of supplies) when it can't dock alongside.

RV Laura Bassi icebreaker ship (RRS Ernest Shackleton)

The list of onboard machinery and facilities includes:

  • Dry Lab (45 m2), Wet Lab (45 m2), 2 containerized labs (on the deck)
  • telescopic crane (aft, 10 tons), ROV crane (5 tons, on the upper deck), cargo crane (30 tons), offshore crane: (50 tons)
  • dynamic positioning (AUT-R), hydrographic echo sounder, bottom mapping system (Simrad), sonar room
  • helipad (diameter 18 m / 60 ft, max helicopter weight 10 tons), upper cargo hold (can be used as hangar)
  • MOB-Boat (fast-speed rescue boat)
  • waste management equipment (oily water separator, incinerator, garbage compactor, wastewater treatment plant)
  • two stabilizing water tanks
  • TV-monitoring 9a total of 20 CCTV cameras)
  • The ship is powered by two "Bergen Diesel BRM 6" marine engines (combined power output 5100 kW).
  • Propulsion is provided by three fixed thrusters (power output 608 kW each) plus one forward Azimuth thruster (power output 811 kW).
  • Displacement tonnage: 4028 tons
  • Deadweight tonnage: 1800 tons
  • Max Draught: 7 m (23 ft) fully loaded
  • Icebreaking capacity: 2,5 m (8 ft)
  • Ice-class DNV GL ICE-05
  • Range: 74,000 km (46,000 ml)
  • Endurance: 130 days
  • Capacity: 80 passengers and crew
  • Diesel fuel capacity: 1380 m3
  • Aviation fuel capacity: 195 m3
  • Freshwater capacity: 165 m3
  • Fuel consumption: 9,5 tons 9diesel) per day at cruising speed 12 Kn

The ship has one aft-located helipad but no onboard helicopter.

This icebreaking vessel undergoes refit/drydock maintenance annually.

For safety reasons, passengers (scientists, cruise tourists) are not allowed in the following areas and facilities (unless specific permission has been granted): Navigation Bridge, Engine Room, all machinery spaces, galley (kitchen), engineering workshops, crew areas (cabins, Crew Mess Room, Crew Bar).

Scientific staff is accommodated on the ship in 2-, 3- and 4-berth staterooms. Each of these passenger cabins is equipped with an en-suite bathroom (shower, WC / vacuum flush toilets). Linens are changed weekly. The ship has a laundrette (passenger laundry facility with 2 washing machines and 2 tumble driers), additional to its main laundry room. Cabins shouldn't be locked while the ship is at sea (only when in port).

Among the ship's public rooms are Bar, Gym (exercise equipment), Sauna Room, Green Room (lounge with TV), hospital (resident doctor).

Note: In the case of poor AIS coverage, tracking the vessel's current location will be impossible. You can see the CruiseMapper's list of all icebreakers and ice-breaking research ships in the "itinerary" section of our Icebreakers hub. All states and their fleets are listed there.

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