It’s decided. Norwalk Aquarium’s new hybrid-powered research vessel will be named “R/V Spirit of the Sound.”
Kiara Velazquez, a 10th grader at Brien McMahon, won a free boat outing for her family and a free IMAX® movie screening for one of her classes at Brien McMahon when her winning name was selected by a committee that included Per Heidenreich of Greenwich, chair of the Aquarium’s new-vessel committee.
The Aquarium’s $2.7 million, 65-foot catamaran is expected to make its debut in late spring. The new research vessel will be bigger, quieter and greener than the Aquarium’s current 34-year-old trawler. It will be powered by a unique hybrid electric propulsion system, which will reduce fuel consumption by an estimated 75 percent.
The new boat will have a climate-controlled indoor classroom and an outdoor research space with total capacity of 65, more than twice that of the Aquarium’s current 40-foot boat.
In addition to the Per and Astrid Heidenreich Family Foundation of Greenwich, major contributors toward the new boat included George and Carol Bauer of Wilton and The TK Foundation of Nassau, Bahamas.
Entries suggesting 315 distinct names were submitted by 399 students. Thirty-eight students submitted the name Spirit of the Sound but – per the contest rules – Kiara was awarded the grand prize because she entered the name first.
The Maritime Aquarium uses its research vessel year-round on Long Island Sound – for educational programs with students on field trips during the week, and for public outings on weekends. From April through October, live animals are brought onboard for examination during Marine Life Study Cruises. From December through March, Seal-Watching Cruises are offered.
Designed by Incat Crowther of Australia, Spirit of the Sound is being built at the Robert E. Derecktor Inc. shipyard in Mamaroneck, NY. Its hybrid electric propulsion system was made by Northern Lights, Inc. Bank of America is the official launch sponsor for the new boat.