Latest RV Belgica news

2014-06-24 – Ship call RV Belgica in 2015


RBINS - OD Nature and VLIZ coordinate the ship time of the research vessels RV Belgica and RV Simon Stevin. Therefore a simultaneous ship call 2015 is now launched for both ships.

If you want to use the RV Belgica in 2015, fill in the request forms and send them to, and by 18 July 2014.

RV Belgica ship time can be requested by all scientists in the framework of their work at a Belgian university or institute.

Please keep in mind that RV Belgica will not be available on the following dates: 01.01 until 23.01.15; 04.04 until 12.04.15; 18.07 until 16.08.15; 31.10 until 08.11.15; 21.12 until 31.12.15.

The coordination meeting to draw up the program of RV Belgica 2015 will take place at BELSPO on 22 September 2014 at 10h.

2014-05-19 – How Big Is Belgica: some pictures!

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RV Belgica Open Ship on Sunday 18 May 2014 in Brussels.

2014-05-14 – How Big Is Belgica?

imageThe big campaign to celebrate the 30th anniversary of RV Belgica and to learn more about the future starts…now!

There is a need for a new ship, RV Belgica II, to continue protecting the North Sea. A ship for more scientists, more high-precision instruments and remotely operated underwater vehicles. You can discover the future here in “How Big Is Belgica”, the animated movie!

From now on, you can also follow us on imageFacebook and imageTwitter. Share our movie with your friends so they can support our new research vessel as well!

This Sunday 18 may, you can come on board of RV Belgica in Brussels! You can meet the Belgian marine scientists from the University of Ghent, ILVO, FPS Economy, Defence and of course RBINS – OD Nature. You are welcome on the ship from 10.00h till 17.00h (our tent is open till 19.00h) on the Heembeekkaai (near Van Praetbrug and the Royal Yacht Club).

Harbour Day

The movie Howbigisbelgica

2014-05-07 – 30 years RV Belgica: How Big Is Belgica?

imageThe Belgian oceanographic research vessel “RV A962 Belgica” celebrates her 30th anniversary in 2014. To celebrate this event and to promote the RV Belgica to the general public, the RBINS launches a campaign on the weekend of 17 and 18 May 2014 with an animated movie, a symposium, and open doors during the Brussels Harbour Day.

The research vessel watches closely over our heaving province both day and night. A huge pile of scientific knowledge is required to keep our North Sea viable and profitable. It is in the interest of all Belgians that the deep blue motor of the North Sea keeps on humming. Just think about durable fishery, wind energy, sand mining, and tourism. There is simply a need for a new ship, RV Belgica II, to continue protecting the North Sea. A ship for more scientists, more high-precision instruments and remotely operated underwater vehicles. You can discover the future soon in “How Big is Belgica”, the animated movie (with many thanks to BELSPO)!

On Friday 16 May, the RV Belgica will sail from Antwerp to Brussels where the ship will arrive with other ships (Stern) at 17.00h at the Heembeekkaai. On Saturday, a scientific symposium will gather scientists to discuss the importance of RV Belgica and her possible successor, RV Belgica II.

The general public is invited to visit the RV Belgica on Sunday 18 may during the Harbour Days of Brussels. You can come on board and meet the Belgian marine scientists from the University of Ghent, ILVO, FPS Economy, Defence and of course RBINS – OD Nature. And we will give you some information on the new Belgica.

Everybody is welcome on the ship from 10.00h till 17.00h (the harbour day is open till 19.00h) on the Heembeekkaai (near Van Praetbrug and Bruxelles Propreté, stand 54).

Harbour Day

RV Belgica

2014-05-06 – European seafloor survey reveals depth of marine litter problem

imageA major new survey of the seafloor has found that even in the deepest ocean depths you can find bottles, plastic bags, fishing nets and other types of human litter. The litter was found throughout the Mediterranean, and all the way from the continental shelf of Europe to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge 2,000 kilometres from land. Litter is a problem in the marine environment as it can be mistaken for food and eaten by some animals or can entangle coral and fish.

For Belgium, the University of Ghent, with the Renard Centre of Marine Geology, participated in this international study. They were responsible for sea bed mapping, and for the research of deep sea currents in the Gulf of Biscay and the Gulf of Cadiz, on board of our RV Belgica!

Press release (in Dutch)

2014-03-24 – Secretary of State for Science policy and students on board of RV Belgica

On Friday 21 March 2014, the Secretary of State for Science Policy came on board of our research vessel Belgica, with 40 children from 5th and 6th year secondary schools in Anderlecht and Vielsalm.

The students had a guided tour on the ship, but they also had to take samples of the sea bed and water at different stations. They checked several physical parameters and assisted in sorting out the results of a fish track.

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TV Brussel news item

2014-01-23 – EUROFLEETS 2: call for ship time

imageEUROFLEETS2 is an EU funded project providing scientists with 200 fully funded days of ship-time and 104 fully funded days of marine equipment to carry out ship-based research activities within any field of marine sciences.
The call for proposals is now open. This call makes available a total of 13 research vessels and 5 pieces of marine equipment (Marum-MeBo, 2x 3D HDTV Cameras, ROV Liropus and ROV Max Rover). The RVs are offered on the following regions: Polar/Subpolar, North Atlantic, North Sea, English Channel, Celtic Sea, Baltic Sea and Bay of Biscay. Our RV Belgica and the Flemish research vessel Simon Stevin participate in this project. Application deadline: Thursday 27th of March 2014, 16:00 HOURS (CET).


2013-12-09 – Loss and recuperation of a beam trawl

In the beginning of December, researchers of ILVO came on board of RV Belgica to test an alternative beam trawl. This beam trawl of 8 m long, would be less damaging to the marine organisms on the sea bed and would be cheaper because of the use of less fuel.

On Tuesday 3 December around 19.00h, two big shocks were felt during fishing in UK waters. The fishing gear was taken in, but the beam trawl was gone. All local and national institutions were informed. The first plan was to get a dredging hook from the Dutch fishing ship TX 68 VERTROUWEN to start dredging from the last known position. Around midnight, we caught the fishing gear, but it slipped off the dredging hook. RV Belgica continued to dredge all night.

Because of the cooperation between the Belgian and Dutch Navy, the commander of the RV Belgica asked the help of a Dutch mine sweeper to localise the fishing gear with its sonar. Around 13.30h the ZR MS SCHIEDAM came in the area and the sonar localised the gear on Wednesday 4 December at 14.10h. RV Belgica hauled the beam trawl safely on board around 16.00h.

Thanks to the excellent cooperation between the Dutch fisherman, the Dutch mine sweeper of the Navy, the RV Belgica and the ILVO scientists, the beam trawl was recovered after a whole day of dredging.

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2013-08-23 – Secretary of State Courard visits the Belgica

The Secretary of State for Science Policy, Philippe Courard, visited the oceanographic vessel RV Belgica, on 23rd of August.

Min. Courard visits the belgica

His visit had a double objective: first of all to explore work on board – as a former science professor, a special experience – but also to draw attention to the future of the vessel.

The Belgica is celebrating this year its 29th birthday… whilst experts estimate the maximum lifetime of a research vessel at 30 years. A feasibility study completed in 2010 concluded that it is necessary to replace the Belgica.

At the initiative of the Secretary of State the Council of Ministers approved by the end of April 2013 a financing study for the replacement of the Belgica. The study of financing models is being carried out by the FPPS Science Policy in which several possibilities are being explored: integral financing by the State, public private cooperation, cooperation with European countries….

The Secretary of State pleaded to move fast in order to obtain a possible financing that will allow scientists to dispose of an infrastructure adapted to their needs and which will allow them to carry out their missions at the best.

2013-07-12 – New commander on RV Belgica

On Friday 12 July 2013, Corvet Captain Luc Van Tricht took over the command of the Belgica from Manuel Dory.

We would like to thank Commander Dory for his dedication during his two years on board. And we wish Commander Van Tricht an excellent scientific voyage!

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2013-07-01 – This weekend: Belgica Open doors

imageThe Navy offers a great variety of professions today. You can discover them on board of Belgian and foreign ships during the 33rd Navy Days on 6 and 7 July 2013. The ships’ crew will be available to answer your questions on board from 10.30h till 12.00h and from 13.30h till 17.30h.

There are many activities for the young and old: diving initiations, concerts, demonstrations etc. And of course, our research vessel RV Belgica will be open to the public.

You are welcome from 10.00h till 18.00h in the Naval base of Zeebrugge. Free entrance!

Navy Days 2013

2013-06-27 – Secretary of State Bogaert visits the Belgica in Zeebrugge and our laboratories in Ostend

Secretary of State for Public Services, Hendrik Bogaert will come on board our oceanographic research vessel RV Belgica on Friday 28 June 2013. He will also visit the marine chemistry lab in Ostend.

Press release in Dutch and French.

2013-06-25 – The Belgica in Portugal

imageOn 29 May 2013 RV Belgica left Lisbon for the Gulf of Cádiz for geophysical and oceanographic research under the direction of the “Renard Centre for Marine Geology” of the Department of Geology and Soil Science of the University of Ghent. Ten Belgian, French, Moroccan, Spanish and Portuguese scientists came on board for this research.

The Gulf of Cádiz is very interesting for geologists and paleo-oceanographists because of the input of water from the Mediterranean Sea into the Atlantic Ocean. This input started around 5 million years ago and drives very strong bottom currents on the continental slopes of Spain, Portugal and Morocco. This has an influence on the distribution of sediments (sand, silt, clay) on the slope and on deep water coral ecosystems (cold water corals).

The aim of this 10-day campaign was to use acoustic profiles (till 300 m under the sea bed) to look for differences in the strength of the currents and this for the last 5 million years. The measurements will be used to better understand the results of recent drillings (till 400 m deep) of the “Integrated Ocean Drilling Programme”. To really rebuild the past, we also have to know the patterns of currents today. Very few data exist on the Moroccan part of the Gulf of Cádiz. In cooperation with the Portuguese Instituto Hidrografico measurements on the water mass composition and current direction and speed have been made in the water column. At the same time marine mammals have been observed by the Spanish CIRCE.

This was the 5th visit of the Belgica in this zone since the area was discovered in 2002. The preliminary results (some 1000 km seismic tracks) suggests that this will not be the last visit….

Commander Manuel Dory, RV Belgica

2013-06-21 – Eurofleets: European project for collaboration between oceanographic research vessels.


On June 13 2013 we held a conference at the RBINS to close off the project Eurofleets 1. In the meantime, Eurofleets 2 has been kicked off. These European projects are necessary for the oceanographic research in Belgium and Europe.

Every country has one or more oceanographic research vessels that scientists can use for sampling at sea. Through these integrated infrastructure projects, not only scientists from the country the vessel originates from can go on board, but the ships are opened up for other European researchers. We aim at using these ships as efficiently as possible.

When our Belgica is in Portugal, doing research like last week, foreign research teams can come on board to take samples in the same region. So no two ships need to be in the same area and the ship time is used in the best way. To make high-performance but often very expensive marine scientific infrastructure available to others is a small but concrete step to European integration and cooperation.

On June 13 scientists and managers of research vessels came together to present the conclusions of the first project. During EUROFLEETS 1, from 2009 till now, sixteen research vessels have been made available to the scientific world. 31 organisations and institutions from 20 countries are participating. The European Commission gives financial support of 9 million euro over 4 years.

2013-05-14 – Students on board of the RV Belgica

The Flemish organisation “Environmental Education at School, MOS” organised a competition in schools: students were supposed to work out an environmental research project and could win nice prizes. Twelve students of the “Green High Make Over Team” of the “Provinciale Secundaire School Diepenbeek Green High” changed the green grass plains around their school into economically sustainable and ecological responsible gardens with the intention to increase the biodiversity around the school. They won a trip with the RV Belgica!

On 13 May, they came on board to experience different types of sampling, the use of the multibeam, and life on board. Because of the heavy wind and the high waves, we could not deploy the instruments on the tripod, but that also, is life on board!

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2013-05-07 – Wave Glider tested on board of the RV Belgica

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Scientists at MUMM have just finished a 3-week trial of an autonomous oceanographic device called the Wave Glider which was provided by the US-based company Liquid Robotics. The 2 m-long Wave Glider looks like a surf board, but is equipped with a wide range of instruments which record a variety of marine conditions, i.e. water temperature, salinity, current speed and directions, presence of hydrocarbons, algae, weather conditions, etc.


The main advantage of the Wave Glider can be found in its self-propulsion. It uses the action of the waves to travel thousands of kilometers without stopping. Its average speed is around 1.5 knots, i.e. ca. 2.7 km/h. The instruments on board are powered by batteries which are recharged by the solar panels. All data is send to shore via satellite every 5 minutes and is available for the scientist and marine technicians to evaluate directly. The safety of the Wave Glider is guaranteed by a team in the US who follows the Wave Glider 24/7 and can steer it away from ships thanks to the build-in alarm system and AIS-receiver which indentifies the ships in the neighborhood.

The Wave Glider was deployed from RV BELGICA on the 15th of April 2013 and picked up again by our research vessel on the 06th of May. During these three weeks it sailed ca. 1300 km around the Oosthinder sand bank to monitor the effects of the active sand extraction on the surrounding marine environment.

On the map the track of the Wave Glider around the Oosthinder is indicated (white symbols) together with the position of the sand extraction vessel RIO (blue symbols), together with the positions of other vessels (red/green/grey symbols) and this for a period of 24 hours.

This trial clearly indicates that there is an enormous potential in using Wave Gliders and other autonomous vehicles which can operated over long time periods in any time of weather conditions for a limited cost. These instruments will help us to even better understand our seas and the influence we have on the marine environment.

Video: deployment of the Wave Glider from RV BELGICA

2013-04-26 – Financial study on the replacement of the Belgica

At the initiative of Philippe Courard, Secretary of State for Science Policy, the council of Ministers has approved on 26 April 2013 the launch of a financial study on the replacement of our current research vessel RV Belgica.

Our Belgica celebrates its 29th birthday this year and experts estimate the maximum life time of a research vessel to 30 years. The feasibility study done in 2010 concluded on the necessity to replace the Belgica, especially because of the lack of sufficient space for scientific equipment and the staff and the aged equipment of the ship.

The study of the financing models of a new ship will be done by the FPS Science Policy. Different possibilities will be studied in the next nine months: the acquisition and the future exploitation of this research infrastructure, the future of the current Belgica, the full financing by the government, public and private cooperation for the construction and/or exploitation of the ship, cooperation with other European countries.

"An oceanographic research vessel is an essential instrument of the marine research and the control activities on the North Sea”, says Philippe Courard. “The first Belgica has accomplished her tasks with excellence. But we have to think about replacing her. That is why we are looking for possible financing to make sure researchers can use an infrastructure fitted to their needs and can accomplish their missions in an even better way.


2013-02-18 – European products EARS and GLOBE: first test on the Belgica

A team of European scientists and technicians came on board of the Belgica for a first joint test of two software packages developed in the frame of the European project EUROFLEETS: GLOBE (visualisation and processing of bathymetric data) and EARS (Eurofleets Automatic Reporting System: a tool to log and report any event occurring during the cruise including malfunctions, observations, sampling,… linked with the automatically acquired data). This software was tested at sea during a cruise of sediment measurements.

The EU‐funded EUROFLEETS project created an alliance of marine research vessels across Europe that will work together and share resources, improving the quality of marine research in Europe.


The participants: Yvan STOJANOV (MUMM), Karien DE CAUWER (MUMM), Jordi SORRIBAS (CSIC), Joan OLIVE (CSIC), Marc NOKIN (IFREMER), Serge SCORY (MUMM), Marie‐Paule CORRE (IFREMER), Andrea COVA (OGS).


2012-11-20 – RV Belgica tests satellite navigation for ships

imageOur research vessel Belgica is monitoring the maritime performance of Europe’s satellite navigation system EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service). The results gathered by our ship are used to investigate how the EGNOS, initially prioritised for aircraft, can also guide marine traffic. Nowadays, RV Belgica is thus not only gathering data from the sea but also from the sky.

imageCovering all European territory via a trio of geostationary satellite transponders, EGNOS is an augmentation system that sharpens the accuracy of US GPS signals. The localisation precision could be ameliorated from 20 to 5 m. Designed by the European Space Agency ESA, the European Commission and Eurocontrol – the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation – EGNOS can also be used for surface transport on both land and sea. ESA is interested in learning how the signals reflect off the sea or from harbour infrastructure or nearby ships.

RV Belgica has been fitted with a set of three receivers to pick up signals from EGNOS, as well as signals from the first Galileo satellites in orbit. The receivers are continuously logging satellite navigation signals, so that ESA can see the system performance during different sea conditions, while the ship is moving or stationary and out to sea or approaching harbour. The ship’s duties take the receivers into all kinds of intriguing but typically off-limit environments for signal reception, such as the midst of offshore windfarms.

This is the first time that long-term data are being gathered on EGNOS’s performance at sea in a systematic way. And the fact ESA is also receiving Galileo signals gives additional data to work with when validating that system. The receivers have been put in place on a cooperative data-sharing basis with no exchange of funds, planned for one year but with the potential for extension. The MUMM measurement service is responsible for data transfer and support. The European Commission, overseeing EGNOS applications, regards it as having great potential for the maritime and inland waterways transport sector.

2012-09-21 – Three ships in one sluice

imageOn Tuesday 18 September there was a remarkable cooperation. Three ships, the RV Belgica of the Federal Science Policy, the HS Ter Streep and the new RV Simon Stevin, both from the Flemish Government, have carried out measurements together.

These ships can perform accurate measurements of the water depth. To compare these measurements on the ships, a calibration of the multibeam echosounders is necessary. This calibration was performed in the Pierre Van Damme sluice in Zeebrugge. The three ships measured the well-known depth of the sluice. Now the results will be compared to make sure that the oceanographic data of the Belgian researchers are well tuned.

This remarkable cooperation between different federal (MUMM, the Navy, FPS Economy) and Flemish services (Flemish Hydrography, VLIZ) was carried out in the framework of a common project to map the water depth and the relief of the sea bed in the Belgian part of the North Sea. This will be achieved by combining the existing bathymetric data and exploring missing areas.

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