Multidisciplinary coastal research vessel Simon Stevin | Flanders Marine Institute

Flanders Marine Institute

Platform for marine research

Multidisciplinary coastal research vessel Simon Stevin

RV Simon Stevin is deployed for coastal oceanographic research in the Southern Bight of the North Sea and the eastern part of the English Channel. It meets the requirements of the different marine research disciplines in Flanders. The ship is also used for European research infrastructure projects LifeWatch and ICOS. 

RV Simon Stevin is deployed for academic coastal oceanographic research in the Southern Bight of the North Sea and the eastern part of the English Channel. It also serves as a training platform for students from marine sciences as well as maritime training courses, and as a testing platform for new technologies. In addition, educational trips for primary and secondary schools are organised aboard the vessel.  The ship sails under the Belgian flag and is registered in Ostend.  It is used mainly for daytime operations, but overnight trips may be planned as well.
The ship supports a wide range of marine scientific research. Marine research in Flanders is conducted at universities and scientific institutions and is multidisciplinary, ranging from physical oceanography, fisheries research, marine biology, microbiology, chemistry, technology and archaeology to earth sciences.

Discover the RV Simon via our 360° virtual tour: walk virtually on board the research vessel and imagine yourself as a researcher or crew member.

Discover the RV Simon Stevin Facebook page:, indicate you like the page and follow the events aboard the research vessel.


General technical information

The ship – with a length of 36m, a beam of 9.4m and a draught of 3.5m – meets the requirements of the various marine research disciplines, and is equipped with all standard sampling equipment as well as sophisticated sonar technology for flow measurements (acoustic current meter) and soil characterisation (multibeam). Highly accurate navigation is ensured by means of a dynamic positioning system. A diesel electric drive unit makes it possible to sail as a ‘silent ship’ so that all acoustic measuring instruments can be used optimally.
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When at sea, a datasystem on board RV Simon Stevin registers the navigation data as well as meteorological and oceanographic (physicochemical) data. Marine scientists log their research activities during each trip. The system also helps to plan cruises and to register ship activities. All data is kept and managed in the MIDAS database, which stands for Marine Information and Data Acquisition System.
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VLIZ has monitored 10 stations in the Belgian part of the North Sea on a monthly basis since 2002 – prior to 2012 on board RV Zeeleeuw, from then onwards on board RV Simon Stevin – and has taken water and soil samples and performed CTD measurements. This monitoring is also part of the European research infrastructure LifeWatch.
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Management, operability, construction & funding

RV Simon Stevin entered Ostend for the first time on 25 May 2012, exactly five years after the first technical meeting as to the potential construction of a new oceanographic research vessel for Flanders. The project was successful thanks to funding from the Flemish government and a smooth collaboration between DAB Fleet (shipowner of the Flemish government, responsible for the vessel’s operability) and VLIZ (responsible for the scientific programme and the management of the research equipment). DAB Fleet and VLIZ have concluded a cooperation agreement to deploy the research vessel Simon Stevin within a future-oriented framework. RV Simon Stevin was constructed by the Damen Shipyards Group with the Dutch company Damen Shipyards Gorinchem as main contractor and in partnership with Maaskant Shipyards (NL) and Damen Shipyards Galatz (RO). The cost of the ship amounted to € 11.5 million (incl. VAT) and € 1 million was spent on scientific equipment.


If you as a scientist make use of the marine scientific infrastructure and equipment made available by VLIZ, please refer to this in your publications, in particular when using RV Simon Stevin.


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