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Shell's new icebreaker 'Aiviq' christened in Louisiana

Alaska Dispatch

According to Louisiana's Houma Today, on Saturday, 12-year-old Elizabeth Itta of Nuiqsut christened a brand new Alaska-bound icebreaker at Port Fourchon, an industrial hub on the Gulf Coast.

The new ship, built by Edison Chouest, was commissioned by Shell Oil more than two years and about 2 million man hours ago, and Itta won the contest to name it.

Her winning choice was "Aiviq," the Iñupiaq word for "walrus," and according to a press release, in her winning essay she argued it was fitting because the large marine mammals use their tusks to break sea ice.

And break some ice the Aiviq can. It is a 360 feet long tug-slash-support ship, can hold 10,000 barrels of oil, and its hull is designed to cut through even thick sea ice. The ship is longer, wider and deeper than any other Edison Chouest has constructed. The project cost more than $200 million.

According to Popular Mechanics, the shipbuilding firm also previously built an ice-hardy assist vessel, the Nanuq, for Shell's upcoming Alaska exploration, as well as two icebreakers for the National Science Foundation.

Federal and local officials attended the Aiviq's christening, including U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Metairie, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., several members of the Greater Lafourche Port Commission, as well as Shell executives.

The Aiviq will depart Louisiana in the next few weeks and is expected to arrive on station in Alaska waters by July, when Shell expects to commence its exploratory project.

Read much more from Houma Today, here.