Kiellegung Hero
| Press Release

Innovation platform for climate-friendly shipping

Research vessel Coriolis paves the way for interdisciplinary research and digitalization

The Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon is setting new standards in climate-friendly shipping with the construction of the Coriolis. The keel-laying ceremony for the research vessel will take place at the Hitzler shipyard in Lauenburg on 23 March 2023. As the world's first ship, it combines coastal, materials, membrane and hydrogen research on board. In addition, all research data will be available in real-time thanks to the innovative digitalisation concept.

From valuable long-term data to pollutant analyses to the effects of offshore wind turbines: the Ludwig Prandtl, built in 1983, has been a cornerstone of coastal research at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon for many years. As she has reached the end of her service time, it is now time for a successor. The Coriolis is currently being built by the Hitzler shipyard in Lauenburg and is due to be handed over to the Hereon in 2024. Around 13.5 million euros were approved by the Bundestag's budget committee in 2020 for the construction of this globally unique research vessel.

Kiellegung Janecek Zoom Ohne

Dieter Janecek, Federal Government Coordinator of Maritime Economy and Tourism during his speech for the keel laying at Hitzler Werft. Photo: Hereon/ Martina Grünwald

In the sectional construction method, keel laying means the laying out of the first section, i.e. the hull section, at the construction site by crane. A coin is then placed on the “pallung”, a carrying device of the ship, under the first section as a good luck charm. In this context, the symbolic "laying of the keel" has the same significance as the laying of the foundation stone when building a house.

"Today's keel laying of the research vessel Coriolis shows that the transformation of the maritime economy has long since begun. By investing in research, the Federal Government is promoting the technological leadership of German companies and at the same time strengthening climate protection in the industry. This is a good signal for Germany as a shipbuilding location and shows that we continue to be competitive in the field of special ships as well,” states Dieter Janecek, Federal Government Coordinator of Maritime Economy and Tourism.

"On today's keel-laying day, you can already see what the research vessel will look like one day. The intensive exchange with the Hitzler shipyard - especially in the technical details - is a very important element that will contribute to the success of the new ship," emphasises Volker Dzaak, project manager of the Coriolis.

The equipment

Just under 30 metres long, 8 metres wide and a draught of 1.6 metres. Thanks to these dimensions, the Coriolis is versatile and can be used in rivers as well as in the North and Baltic Seas. On an area of 47 square metres, she combines a wet and dry or e-lab as well as a laboratory for hydrogen research.


3D Animation of Coriolis. Graphic: Hereon/ Hitzler Werft

The wet laboratory has a hydrograph shaft and an ultra-pure seawater system for trace analysis. In addition, the laboratory is equipped with hydroacoustic systems for current measurement (echo sounder and ADCP). The built-in FerryBox, can be registered online and continuously measures physical, chemical and biological parameters, such as oxygen concentration, salinity, temperature or pH value - during the voyage and in port.
Thanks to the innovative digitalisation concept, this data can be retrieved and shared in real time. Thus, the data is available in real-time for research stations and other research institutions. With a crew of 3 and 12 scientists on board, the Coriolis reaches a top speed of 12 knots.

"The special combination on board the future Coriolis of digitalised environmental research and technology development for more climate protection fully corresponds to the guiding principle and strengths of our centre. For this reason, the Coriolis is an ambassador for Hereon," says Prof. Dr. Matthias Rehahn, scientific director of Hereon.

The climate-friendly propulsion

The Coriolis has an innovative propulsion system consisting of an electric motor that can be powered either by diesel, via a battery or directly by hydrogen. The hydrogen is stored in the form of especially space-saving metal hydrides. Thus, the Coriolis can be "refuelled" with up to 30 kg of hydrogen. The hydrogen drive is tested on board during the voyage. During these phases, the ship sails completely emission-free. The diesel engine will also be less harmful to the climate than conventional ship engines. Hereon researchers are producing a special membrane for the engine that separates nitrogen oxides from the combustion air and thus minimises the emissions produced.

"Shipping has thrived on change and innovation for centuries. The new construction of the research vessel Coriolis once again represents the innovative nature of our industry. We are proud to be able to make our contribution to research into new types of propulsion concepts and thus to the future of shipbuilding," says Marek Klimenko, Managing Director of Hitzler Werft.

With its interdisciplinary research on board and its digitalisation concept, the Coriolis is an innovation platform for shipping. In addition, the testing of hydrogen propulsion will provide important data and empirical values for new, more environmentally friendly propulsion options. In the long term, this can pave the way for greener shipping and contribute significantly to climate protection.

Further information


Volker Dzaak

Project Manager Coriolis

Institute of Coastal Environmental Chemistry

Phone: +49 (0) 4152 87-2394

E-mail contact

Martina Grünwald

Press Officer

Communication and Media

Phone: +49 (0)4152 87-1784

E-mail contact