by Rebecca Sherratt, Features Editor, International Aquafeed


'Krill-harvesting company Aker BioMarine are making a big splash in the fish farming technology sector with their recently-revealed flagship boat, the Antarctic Endurance'

The Antarctic Endurance; a 129.6-metre-long flagship vessel featuring the latest state-of-the-art harvesting technology that can withstand even the harshest arctic conditions for months at a time.

The innovative Norwegian vessel cost 1.1 billion NOK (US $118 million) to construct and Aker BioMarine are certainly very pleased with the results.

Yard Director Fredrik Mordal Hessen from Vard Brattvaag says, 'We are incredibly happy to see Antarctic Endurance set sail from our yard for its debut harvesting season. A unique project in partnership with Aker BioMarine, we have overcome a number of challenges to deliver what we believe is an industry-defining vessel'.

The incredible bit of aquaculture equipment got its name in Alesund, Norway and is certainly one-of-a-kind. The boat is 30 percent more energy efficient than all of Aker BioMarine's previous vessels and is designed to run for months at a time in the harshest arctic conditions.

Even crew members will be treated like luxury whilst onboard the Antarctic Endurance, with various fitness and recreational facilities onboard such as a hot tub, sauna, cinema and sky lounge for crew to take in the incredible ocean views.

Construction and completion

Norwegian shipbuilders at VARD ran this amazing project which took them two years to complete, a total of 900 shipbuilders tasked with creating the Antarctic Endurance and over 40 Norwegian vendors submitting equipment and solutions to build this immense technological marvel.

The hull of the ship was constructed in Romania then transferred to Brattvåg in Norway, in order for the technical equipment and interior solutions to be installed.

Matts Johansen, CEO of Aker BioMarine says, 'We have put all our experience and know-how into building a vessel capable of matching our ambitions and operational needs, a vessel we could have only dreamt of when we started our very own Antarctic adventure more than a decade ago.

'Named in tribute to polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton's Norwegian-constructed vessel, Endurance, the name also reflects our own perseverance over the years. Energy efficient and equipped with a host of environmentally friendly technologies, Antarctic Endurance is specifically designed and constructed for our unique business, with direct input from our experienced crew. It is truly one of a kind, and our very first purpose-built krill harvesting vessel' he continues.

The Honourable Alexandra Shackleton, granddaughter of the much-renowned British polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, officially named the vessel and expressed her gratitude to be involved in this project.

'It is an incredible day for me to see my grandfather and his crew's heroism honoured in this way. Antarctic Endurance is a symbol and reminder of the importance of our shared polar expedition legacy and an important part of the history for both Norway and the United Kingdom. My grandfather Sir Ernest Shackleton had his vessel, Endurance, built in Sandefjord in Norway and now a new vessel named Endurance built in Norway is on its way to Antarctica'.

A feat of technological innovation

Aker BioMarine have ensured to optimise every aspect of the Antarctic Endurance to ensure maximum energy efficiency, crew satisfaction and safety as well as optimal performance:

Sustaining the planet- The innovative krill vessel was created with a host of special features, such as low resistance hull lines to ensure enhanced speed and low fuel consumption, alongside excellent manoeuvrability, good stability and high capacities.

Ensuring to remain environmentally friendly, Aker BioMarine also highlighted the importance of implementing an environmentally-friendly design with low emissions.

The boiler system on board was created to use the energy from the exhaust to produce steam, as well as efficiently reusing the heat from the engine systems. The Promas propeller nozzle and two-stage reduction gear from Rolls Royce also enhance the vessels' overall efficiency.

LED lighting by Luminell also drastically reduces the energy output for the ships lighting by an amazing 75 percent. In addition, a SeaQ Green Pilot system monitors the vessels energy and fuel continually, enabling the crew to easily optimise their energy use whilst onboard the vessel.

Peak performance- The on-board facility also holds three processing lines, as well as research labs and more facilities for external observers. The primary goal of these facilities was to ensure that the crew members are able to work, no matter the external weather conditions, definitely a wise choice when working for months at a time in Antarctica!

The Optimar processing plant at the heart of the vessel was approximately a third of the total cost of the ship and Aker BioMarine ensured it was kitted out with only the best technology.

The main engine is a MAK 12 VM 32 E that boasts an immense 6,720 kW of power, and all the latest technologies are also included on board, including the latest electronic radars, Rolls Royce Azimut thrusters and a SeaQ main switchboard to ensure the boat can travel at 18 knots.

The deck equipment also guarantees that Aker BioMarine are prepared for any situation, with two three-tonne unloading cranes, deck cranes and traverse cranes. Four three-tonne beam cranes for cargo handling are also on deck, alongside one three-tonne beam crane for net workshop, along with a trawl, windlass, mooring and netting. MRPC's latest rolling damping system was also installed onto the boat.

Crew security and satisfaction- An enclosed net store was added to the Antarctic Endurance so the crew can simply close the door and work on the nets indoors, with heating and music, should the weather be unpleasant outside.

To help minimise clean-up work for the crew members, clean-in-progress (CIP) systems have also been added to the production area which automatically clean components after they have been used. In addition, better lighting, reduced noise and better ventilation also provide crew members with a much more enjoyable and productive experience on-board.

A new bridge set-up also ensures that the captain remains comfortable and secure. The bridge setup can also be tailored to the user's needs via tablet, with the SeaQ Bridge solution.

Safety-Completely custom-designed, the Antarctic Endurance comes with an amazing variety of technological innovations. Third-generation Eco-Harvesting technology features a triple-tank-sequence system that ensures a steady flow of krill from the trawl due to a constant vacuum system. A hydraulic-driven wagin connects the Eco-Harvesting hose to a submerget inlet below the waterline, ensuring there is a reduced risk of striking ice, as well as minimising possibilities for the ship to suffer from air leakage and other potential exterior problems.

The steel frame is also extremely resilient to the outside elements and is made with the finest materials to ensure every member on board is safe from risks.

Ensuring krill meal is the future of feed

The Antarctic Endurance will primarily be used to harvest krill from the Antarctica for Aker BioMarine to use in their various krill-based feed products. The cargo hold can accommodate an incredible 3,150 tonnes of processed krill, which is then offloaded while at sea to Aker BioMarine's supply vessel, La Manche which, in turn, transports the product to Montevideo, Uruguay. From here it is then sent to warehouses or to the end customer directly.

During the Aquatic Asia Conference at VIV Asia 2019 in Bangkok, organised by International Aquafeed magazine, Dr Panukorn Totubtim spoke in more detail about the various benefits of krill meal.

Aker BioMarine's products are primarily gathered from Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba), one of the largest krill species. This unique crustacean feeds on phytoplankton, glows in the dark and aggregates in large, dense swarms. Using a hose, trawl module and trawl net, Aker BioMarine bring krill onboard their vessel for production.

Krill meal is especially rich in proteins (making up a total of 58% of their krill meal composition), omega-3 fatty acids (25% composition), phospholipids and astaxanthin and is proven to also lead to enhanced growth, increased stress tolerance, reduced cost, improved flavour, increased pigmentation and much more in shrimp feed.

The Antarctic Endurance serves as an awe-inspiring example of sustainable harvesting technology, energy efficiency and the potential for the ever-evolving aquaculture industry. Aker BioMarine's boat has now become the new standard for harvesting vessels and is already proving itself to be a very worthy technological marvel.

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