The research vessel Belgica was built in 2021. This new multidisciplinary research vessel will support scientific research (fisheries, biology, geology, climate, chemistry, etc.) as well as this country's national and international obligations for monitoring the Belgian marine space (impact of wind turbines at sea, fishing activities, etc.) for the next 30 years. Compared to its predecessor, the new ship is larger (71.4 m long compared to 50 m), and offers more space for scientists (four times more laboratory space with a capacity to take up to 28 scientists on board).
The RV Belgica is equipped with state-of-the-art scientific equipment that, among other things, allows for samples to be taken to a depth of 5,000 m. It is also a silent ship (important for fishing, among other things), with light ice reinforcement so as to be able to conduct research in Arctic areas during the summer.
Although the North Sea remains the main focus area, the research area extends further: northward to above the Arctic Circle, further south including the Mediterranean and Black Seas, and westward to the Atlantic Ocean. The vessel has an autonomy of 30 days and will conduct up to approximately 300 days of research at sea each year.
The new research vessel Belgica is owned by the Belgian State, represented by the Federal Science Policy Department (BELSPO). The Natural Environment Directorate of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS) is in charge of managing the ship, in collaboration with the Ministry of Defence and a private operator, Genavir.