Neubau des Forschungsschiffs LUDWIG PRANDTL II
NEWS | 26.11.2020

Federal Government supports the construction of the Research Vessel LUDWIG PRANDTL II

Unique research vessel, belonging to the Helmholtz Centre of Geesthacht, will combine future coastal research and technologies for sustainable maritime navigation

The German Research Vessel fleet is being renovated: Today, Thursday, November 26th, the Budget Committee of the German Bundestag approved funds for the new construction of the LUDWIG PRANDTL II of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht – Centre for Materials and Coastal Research (HZG). Its renovation will cost approximately 13.5 million Euros. The ship is to cover a broad, interdisciplinary array of coastal research, materials research, polymer research and digitization and thus be used in a variety of ways by the HZG, a member of the DAM, and its partners for research and education.

The current research vessel LUDWIG PRANDTL has been commissioned by the Helmholtz Centre of Geesthacht (HZG) from the time of its construction in 1983 and is of central importance for the research of HZG and its partners in the North and Baltic Sea. Due to its age, it is now necessary to replace it with a new vessel. Just like its predecessor, the LUDWIG PRANDTL II is planned to complement other coastal research vessels and has numerous special features: “The ship will also be used for the flexible testing of new energy systems with a focus on hydrogen technology. A unique diesel-electric propulsion system will be developed from fuel cells and membrane modules in cooperation with the DLR Institute of Maritime Propulsion Systems, which is to be established in Geesthacht”, describes Norbert Brackmann, Member of the German Parliament and Federal Government Coordinator for the Maritime Industry and member of DAM’s International Advisory Board, who has provided significant support for the innovative newbuilding.

The common goal is sustainability
Professor Matthias Rehahn, Scientific Director of HZG says “We are very pleased about the funding approval for the construction of our new research vessel! We combine our material expertise with our coastal research for the common goal of sustainability: The ship, which is unique in this regard, will be both a tool for coastal research and an innovation platform for more environmentally friendly coastal navigation.”

Professor Kay Emeis, head at the Institute for Coastal Research at HZG, adds: “We study the interactions between humans, land and sea. Our new ship will therefore travel shallow rivers and estuaries to the open sea. This places special demands in terms of draught and ship height. With the LUDWIG PRANDTL II, for example, we will analyse which nutrients and pollutants are transported from the rivers into the sea or how the expansion of offshore wind power affects the environment. Climate change, as the core topic, is being researched on an interdisciplinary basis.” The LUDWIG PRANDTL II will include a wet, electrical and outdoor laboratory as well as a laboratory for hydrogen technology along with observation technologies with autonomous measuring devices, instruments for flow measurement and various other flexibly applicable systems. The possibility of using rubber dinghies from onboard the ship further extends its range of features.

Immediate availability and direct digitalization of research data
LUDWIG PRANDTL II is to receive a completely new information and data management system: “Digitalization will be a key component onboard our ship. We want to exchange relevant environmental data with aircraft, other ships and land stations in real time and make it available immediately,” continues Matthias Rehahn.

Innovative maritime technologies in use
In the propulsion system of the new ship, metal hydride storage tanks developed by HZG will be used. Professor Thomas Klassen, head of the Institute for Materials Research, explains: “Maritime navigation must become more sustainable. Our colleagues at the HZG Institute of Polymer Research have already developed technical solutions to minimise the pollutant emissions of engines based on the combustion of heavy fuel oil and diesel by treating the charge air with membranes. The emissions comply with the latest and strictest exhaust gas standards. Now, we are aiming to also establish our technologies for hydrogen as an energy carrier on the new research vessel. In doing so, we are taking a giant step towards sustainable mobility.” A separate laboratory is planned for the testing of components for hydrogen technology and their integration into the ship’s energy systems.

Successful preplanning
An extensive preplanning was already conducted in 2019 making the construction of an efficient research vessel with unrivalled unique selling points in terms of state-of-the-art measurement techniques and maritime technologies possible. A design office is being sought in the context of a public procurement procedure to take over the design and planning of the research vessel. Expertise in special ship building is thus needed. The shipyard will be put out to tender as soon as detailed planning is available. The keel will be laid in 2022, after which the LUDWIG PRANDTL II will be christened, tested and officially approved. Volker Dzaak, ship coordinator and head of the Logistics and Organization Department states: “We are pleased that our intensive preliminary planning work of the past years can now be implemented”.

Basic ship data of the new LUDWIG PRANDTL II
Length/width/draft: 30 m / 9 m / 1.5 m
Crew/ Scientists: 2 (+1) / 12
Laboratory surface: 47 m²/ 70 m²
Field of operation: Coastal navigation international
Speed: max.12 knots
Machine power: 750 kW
Operating days/year: approx. 225


Volker Dzaak
Head of Logistics and Organization Department
Phone: +49 (0)4152 87-2394
Mail: volker.dzaak(at)

Gesa Seidel
Public Relations
Phone: +49 (0)4152 87-1784
Mail: presse(at)

Header graphic: This is how the possible LUDWIG PRANDTL II could look like. Graphic: Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht

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The federal government and the regional governments of the five Northern German federal states are supporting and funding the current establishment of the DAM. In addition, the DAM is supported by the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres.

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