FAIRBANKS- The first stage of testing of the Sikuliaq [see-KOO-lee-auk], is almost finished. In less than two weeks, UAF will get the keys to operate a one-of- a kind research boat. The National Science Foundation owns the vessel, and UAF will operate it- a huge privilege for any university. The local university will spend another year testing the features, everything from the propellers to the communication software. The trials will last nearly a year before the boat docks at its home base in Seward, AK around March 2015.
The true strength of the ship is to get humans out on the ice at many different locations and in supported and dedicated science operations. The boat is capable of underwater sensing of fish, it has the ability to sample down to the sea floor bottom and evaluate potential mining interests, and it can support underwater robots and flying robots.