Belgium’s Princess Elizabeth christened the R.V. Belgica oceanographic research vessel just after 4.00 pm on Saturday.
This centerpiece of Belgian scientific research will conduct marine missions using state-of-the-art technology over the next few decades, Belga notes.
Built at the cost of 54 million euros, the Belgica conducted a mission on the Mediterranean Sea in April with the King on board. The ship is equipped with ultra-modern scientific equipment, including a dynamic positioning system that can bring it to a halt with 50-centimetre precision. This is a precious advantage when collecting deep-sea samples.
The RV Belgica is also more discreet than its predecessor, causing smaller waves, which is important for observing marine wildlife.
The vessel is expected to play a major role in coming decades in Belgian and European oceanographic research, enabling marine scientists to extend their expeditions over multiple days or weeks, both within and outside Belgium's territorial waters.
The Belgica belongs to the State of Belgium, represented by the Federal Office for Scientific Policy. The Royal Institute of Natural Sciences of Belgium will run it in collaboration with the Defence Department and a private operator.