The R/V Sikuliaq, pronounced [see-KOO-lee-auk], is a 261-foot oceanographic research ship capable of bringing scientists to the ice-
choked waters of Alaska and the polar regions. Sikuliaq, one of the most advanced university research vessels in the world, is able to break
ice up to 2.5 feet thick. Constructed at Marinette Marine Corporation, a shipyard in Marinette, Wisconsin, Sikuliaq is home ported in Seward, Alaska, at UAF's Seward Marine Center.
The vessel is owned by the National Science Foundation and operated by the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, as part of the U.S. academic research fleet. It is used by scientists in the U.S. and international oceanographic community through the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System. UAF's Sikuliaq Ship Committee provides scientific oversight of Sikuliaq.
The need for this vessel was first expressed by marine scientists in the U.S. in 1973. After 36 years of development and the consideration of
multiple vessel designs, construction began on the ship in December 2009. The vessel was designed by The Glosten Associates, a marine
architecture and engineering firm in Seattle, in 2004.
Sikuliaq allows researchers to collect sediment samples directly from the seafloor, host remotely operated vehicles, use a flexible suite of
winches to raise and lower scientific equipment, and conduct surveys throughout the water column and sea bottom using an extensive set of
research instrumentation. The vessel design strives to have the lowest possible environmental impact, including a low underwater radiated noise signature for marine mammal and fisheries work. Sikuliaq has accommodations for up to 26 scientists and students at a time, including those with disabilities.