A new $200 million Arctic research vessel is nearly complete and marine researchers are looking forward to seeing it in Alaska waters in 2014.
Chemical oceanographer Terry Whitledge of the University of Alaska Fairbanks says the 261-foot Sikuliaq is about 75 percent finished at the Marinette Marine Corp, facilities in Marinette, Wis.
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The National Science Foundation will own the ship. It will be operated by the University of Alaska.
Whitledge was on hand Saturday for a ship-launching ceremony.
The vessel's reinforced hull will be able to break through ice 2.5 feet thick. Whitledge says it will collect water samples, deploy gear, and map ocean bottom with a "multi-beam" system that produces three-dimensional images.
Up to 24 scientists can work on the ship.