PRESS RELEASE Cabinet Science Policy & City of Ghent, 31 January 2021
The city of Ghent will be the godfather city of the new Belgian research vessel Belgica. The ship will be baptised in Ghent in September 2021. This was announced on 31 January 2021 by the State Secretary for Science Policy, Thomas Dermine, and the Mayor of Ghent, Mathias De Clercq.
The city of Ghent will be the godfather of the new research vessel. The State Secretary for Science Policy, Thomas Dermine, took this decision after consultation with the Mayor of Ghent Mathias De Clercq. The city of Ghent had already expressed its interest in becoming the godfather of the advanced research vessel. A candidacy supported by the University of Ghent, an important scientific partner of the Belgica.
“At the moment, the finishing touches are being put to the vessel in Vigo, Spain, which is also undergoing extensive testing. In September 2021, Belgium’s pride in marine research and technology will be christened in Ghent,” jubilates State Secretary for Science Policy Thomas Dermine. “With the Belgica, we are helping our country to become one of the world leaders in marine and underwater exploration. I am very happy with Ghent’s enthusiasm to become the godfather city of this exceptional ship”, continues Thomas Dermine.
“We are particularly honoured and proud to be the godfather city of the new research vessel Belgica”, says Mayor Mathias De Clercq enthusiastically. “Ghent will use this title to stimulate young people’s and schools’ interest in science and to make the most of Ghent’s assets as a knowledge and port city. The ship is powered by Ghent engines and the people of Ghent will proudly welcome the Belgica”, Mathias De Clercq continues.
The new Belgica, a 71-metre oceanographic research vessel, will play a key role in Belgian and European marine research in the coming decades.
Starting in autumn 2021, the ship will embark on expeditions to research numerous issues, such as the fight against global warming and better protection of the environment.
As a multidisciplinary research vessel, the Belgica will support scientific research in the fields of fisheries, biology, geology, climate and chemistry.
The Belgian State, represented by the Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO), is the owner of the ship. The Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS) will manage the vessel in cooperation with the Ministry of Defence and a private operator.
The new research vessel will succeed the current research vessel Belgica (launched in 1984), which in the past 36 years has travelled almost one million kilometres and facilitated more than 1,000 scientific expeditions.
Like its predecessor, the Belgica will operate within the European EUROFLEETS network, which gives European researchers access to a common marine research infrastructure.
The new ship will be baptised in September in Ghent after an inauguration trip between Zeebrugge and Ghent in the presence of Princess Elisabeth. As a reminder, the Duchess of Brabant is the godmother of the new Belgica.
Activities for the general public will be organised in the margins of this official inauguration.