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The arrival of the Alpha Delphini

The vessels Alpha Delphini and Alpha Crucis anchored in Santos: increase in oceanographic research capacity.

Eduardo CesarThe vessels Alpha Delphini and Alpha Crucis anchored in Santos: increase in oceanographic research capacity.Eduardo Cesar

The oceanographic vessel Alpha Delphini was christened on August 12, 2013, at the port of Santos. Built in a shipyard in the state of Ceará, its construction was made possible thanks to a proposal submitted to FAPESP by the USP Oceanographic Institute (IO) as part of the Multi-User Equipment (EMU) Program. The maiden voyage of the Alpha Delphini is taking place a little over a year after that of the oceanographic research vessel Alpha Crucis, also financed by FAPESP (see Pesquisa FAPESP Issue No. 195), which has provided funds for seven vessels to date. “The Alpha Delphini complements the Alpha Crucis and fulfills a need unmet since the retirement of the vessel Professor W. Besnard, as its autonomy is equivalent to that of the retired vessel, but it operates at a lower cost and has a greater ability to maneuver out at sea,” said Michel Michaelovitch de Mahiques, IO-USP director, to Agência FAPESP. The Professor W. Besnard was used from 1967 until 2008, when a fire on board made it unsuitable for operational research.  “When the USP professors submitted proposals for the Alpha Crucis and Alpha Delphini to FAPESP, the Foundation was immediately willing to support the two projects because it understood their importance to the advancement of oceanographic research in the state of São Paulo,” said the president of FAPESP, Celso Lafer, who attended the christening with João Grandino Rodas, USP president.

The vessel cost a total of R$6 million. FAPESP invested R$4.4 million in the construction of the vessel. The rest—engines and some scientific equipment—was financed by USP. The Alpha Delphini has an autonomous range of 10-15 days, depending on the number of crew members, and it can operate over a range of 200 nautical miles from the coast.