R/V Tan Kah Kee

  • Client:
    Xiamen University
  • Completion Date:
    Spring 2013
  • Project Type:
    Vessel Design & Modification
  • Service Categories:
    Naval Architecture
    Marine Engineering
  • Vessel Overview:
    255-foot (77.7-meter) multi-disciplinary oceanographic research vessel
  • Challenge:
    Coordinated the design and construction of a state-of-the-art research vessel with international partners.

An International Endeavor.

The design of Xiamen University’s R/V Tan Kah Kee was a highly coordinated international effort led by Glosten and supported by partners with expertise in vessel design and construction in China. The design process involved a diverse group of stakeholders—scientists, operators, managers, engineers, and fabricators—working together from opposite sides of the globe.

To facilitate input from key experts, we adopted a design leadership transfer process. Glosten took lead responsibility for the concept and preliminary design phases, and upon their completion, the vessel and its primary subsystems were developed to a level to verify science mission requirements and establish capacity for regulatory compliance. All major decisions and analyses that would affect the vessel’s size and performance were developed. Glosten then transferred the design responsibility over to our Chinese partners to complete the contract design for shipyard pricing and contracting. Model testing was conducted in Bulgaria, and experts from China, the United States, Taiwan, Spain, and Norway provided design input.



The Tan Kah Kee features state-of-the-art research equipment and environmental technology, and its hull is optimized to reduce resistance and increase fuel efficiency. The vessel is 255 feet (77.7 meters) in length with a maximum speed of 14 knots and a cruising radius of 10,000 nautical miles. It can support 54 crew members, including 36 scientists, for up to 50 days between provisioning, and offers 1,230 square feet (375 square meters) of laboratory space. Its science-enabling characteristics allow the Tan Kah Kee to carry out multi-disciplinary oceanographic research activities using top-of-the-line acoustic equipment, precise dynamic positioning, and more.

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  • Xiamen University Tan Kah Kee
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In The Press.