Oceanic Earth Research Vessel "Mirai"
Hajime Nishimura, Assistant Director, Planning Department
Japan Marine Science and Technology Center
It was decided that the nuclear-powered vessel "Mutsu" launched in 1969 should be converted into an oceanographic research vessel, with its nuclear reactor section removed in 1995, and operated by the Japan Marine Science and Technology Center. At its launching ceremony in August 1996, the vessel was rechristened the "Mirai(Future)." It set sail on a shakedown voyage in October 1997.
More than twice as big in gross tonnage as any other research vessel in active service in the world,the "Mirai" is most significantly characterized by its ability to conduct observations in stormy weather. Early elucidation of environmental changes of global dimensions, such as the El Nino phenomenon and global warming, is urgently needed. This requires a way of conducting observations in particularly difficult areas, such as the marginal areas that freezes and areas with stormy weather.