Many sailors, scientists, technicians and trainees have had their home-away-from-home on board the RV Dr. Fridtjof Nansen, and have had a close relation with her and the work that she has done. Indelible memories have been left on the walls after years of science and leisure. She has experienced grave incidences, arrests and death, but also festivity and visits by dignitaries, Ministers, Ambassadors and Royalties. But most of all, ordinary days with hard work in happy working relations between people of different nationalities, cultures and backgrounds.
The vessel has contributed to an enormous wealth of knowledge about the marine environment, about fishery resources and the diversity of life in the oceans in the regions where she has been. We have found undiscovered ocean currents and numerous previously undescribed new fish species. Several countries have received assistance in their management of living and non-living marine resources with the knowledge collected with the Dr. Fridtjof Nansen. The vessel has also been a great ambassador for Norway, for Norwegian culture and an expression and symbol of our will to assist in building strong institutions and systems in partner countries.
The white lady is well known in Africa. The vessel and the Nansen Programme that is has been at the heart of, are better known in our cooperating countries than at home in Norway, as it probably should be with all successful development cooperation projects. She has a high star in the countries she has visited, and she is returning home with the conviction of a job well done. Her last survey ends in one of the ports she has visited the most during her lifetime, Luanda in Angola. In the last 15 years the vessel has spent more than 60 days of survey time each year, in Angola and Namibia. I know the Angolans feel that the vessel is partly theirs. The colleagues there also look forward to welcoming the new Dr. Fridtjof Nansen that will join the programme later this year.
After arrival in Bergen, the vessel will be re-named after the first female Norwegian professor, who became professor of biology in 1912, one year before Norwegian women were allowed to vote for the first time. It will be called RV Kristine Bonnevie. She will spend her mature days in the service of science in Norwegian waters after a major refitting in Norway. Maybe she still will provide many more years of service; after all, the retirement age is also going up in Norway. Let the spirit of Nansen be with you. With greetings from the crew and scientists on her last survey.