“The 133-foot research vessel Alpha Helix is an oceanographic ship operated by the University of Alaska’s Institute of Marine Science for the National Science Foundation, the vessel’s owner. The ship’s home port is at the Seward Marine Center at Seward, Alaska, located in the upper reaches of Resurrection Bay. The Alpha Helix was formerly a national oceanographic facility at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, and was acquired in 1980 to replace the smaller vessel Acona, which had supported University of Alaska Fairbanks marine studies since 1964.The Alpha Helix is maintained and used as a year-round platform supporting oceanographic research on the open ocean and in Alaska’s shelf and coastal waters. Its ice-strengthened hull permits surveys in regions covered by seasonal sea ice and in areas adjacent to the numerous tidewater glaciers occurring in Alaska’s coastal zone.
Through participation in the University National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) the ship is available to the world-wide oceanographic community.” UAF/SMC
Alpha Helix operates in Arctic waters that host a marine environment in which barnacles, muscles, and clams that will readily attach to any surface, and especially sea chests on any vessel. A sea chest is an underwater port through which raw water is taken into the vessel for any number of uses such as engine cooling, science purposes etc. Barnacles, clams and muscles when attached inside the sea chest are protected from their normal predators. The problem was so severe on Alpha Helix that the sea chest would become fouled and clogged to such an extent that water flow was severely restricted. In 2005 a totally new ozone-based device, the Chem-Free Sea Chest Guardian anti-fouling system, which is the first of its type anywhere, was installed and commissioned at the Seward Marine Center’s pier on Resurrection Bay in Seward, Alaska. The sea chest has remained totally free of bio-fouling since the Sea Chest Guardian was installed and commissioned in 2005.
“The system has performed perfectly to specification and expectations on board R/V Alpha Helix.”