Complex fundamental and applied studies in enclosed and fringing seas of Russia and strategic areas of the World Ocean are among principal fields of activity of the RAS Far-Eastern Branch. In order to carry out these activities there is a fleet consisting of 17 special vessels of different types in Russia. Its status and problems were discussed at the meeting of the Council for Marine Activities under the Primorsky Krai administration in late 2005. The main statements of the report by Alexander Burnis, candidate of technical sciences, academic secretary of the Oceanographic Committee under the Presidium of the RAS Far-Eastern Branch, were published by Dalnevostochny uchyony (Far-Eastern Scientist) newspaper.
At the present moment oceanology, marine biology, hydrobiology, and other sciences related with the necessity to develop immense resources of the World Ocean are rapidly progressing. Notwithstanding rapid development of remote research methods, first of all space surveys, studies performed from the shipboard, are still the integral source of information allowing to "touch" the wealth kept in the World Ocean.
That is why the RAS and its Far-Eastern Branch projects include a great variety of activities related with monitoring of physical and biological parameters of separate ecosystems and marine environment in coastal waters of Russia and the Pacific Ocean in general, including development of principles and methods targeted to reduce anthropogenic impact, as well as complex scientific and technological maintenance of major oil and gas projects on the Russian shelf. A part of works carried out by research vessels using extra-budgetary funds is a vivid example of cooperation between state and private capitals. Thus, specialists working on Professor Gagarinsky research vessel have been studying the ecology of the Sakhalin Shelf by order of Shakhalin Energy Investment company* concurrently with execution of the RAS Far-Eastern Branch projects.
Topical problems of the Far-Eastern scientific research fleet are of a binary character. First, the majority of its vessels were constructed 20 - 30 years ago-it is a long period for an ocean ship. Some of them are ready to be discarded. Second, standard scientific and navigation equipment of these ships has gone out of date both morally and physically, and, as a result, they has turned into simple means of transportation for expeditions. That is why, according to Burnis, only prompt ships' modernization can improve the situation.
But the main target of his report is not to point out to achieved results and depict poor state of the fleet, but to specify measures to be taken to make use of vessels more effective, enlarge the area of scientific investigations, and pull down their costs. Burnis offered a fleet modernization program, and it principal statements are the following:
It is necessary to reequip all available ships with a modern scientific and navigation equipment, first of all, it refers to the vessels used in resource, environmental, and monitoring projects in enclosed seas of the country and on the Russian shelf. First of all, there should be installed satellite communication stations, replaced auxiliary engines, etc.
The report includes the plan of construction of five new ships: one for deep-water works, another-an icebreaker-for multipurpose works, and three other for navigation and research works in coastal waters.
All these proposals were approved at the Council for Marine Activities of the RAS Far-Eastern Branch.
A. Burnis, "What Are We Without the Fleet?", Dalnevostochny uchyony (Far-Eastern Scientist) newspaper, No. 22,2005
Prepared by Andrei BIRYUKOV
* See: R. Balandin, "Monitoring of the Sakhalin Shelf, Science in Russia, No. 2, 2005. - Ed.
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