Plastic Odyssey, finally owner of its expedition vessel.

Thursday 24 October, 2019 | News

This is it! After several months of research, we are proud to unveil the vessel that we have chosen for the expedition. The 40m long Victor Hensen, previously an oceanographic research vessel, will be transformed over several months in order to become the worldwide ambassador for plastic pollution reduction around the world.

An account of the days leading up to the purchase

Sunday 6 October, 10 pm.

The vessel “Victor Hensen” leaves Denmark for Boulogne-sur-Mer. The founding members of the Plastic Odyssey team, Simon Bernard, Bob Vrignaud, and Alexandre Dechelotte are on board. Accompanying them are maritime experts: Aurelien Guedez and Damien Boistaud, both chief engineers. This 3-day trip will allow us to get a feel for the boat, and ensure discussions with the old crew regarding transfer in ownership of the boat. Upon arrival, this crew will disembark, and we will be left with what we were taught at sea.

For several months now, we’ve been working on a list of changes that will have to be made to the vessel to prepare it for the needs of the expedition: a zero-waste space (kitchen, bathrooms, cabins), as well as recycling, transformation and pyrolysis workshops. Our presence on board will allow us to be confronted with the layout of the vessel. Currently used to board scientists and conduct research projects at sea (survey), the vessel offers few restraints to our plans. Our first observations are very reassuring: the vessel is functional and could be ready to tackle an expedition around the world starting tomorrow! The 10 twin cabins will be rearranged, and the space dedicated to survey projects will be transformed into a workshop for our sorting and plastic analysis machines. The deck, once cleared of existing equipment, will leave us with enough space to place the recycling workshop as well as the pyrolysis machine. Enough? Bob isn’t entirely convinced. In order to set up his workshop, he must include obligatory maritime equipment, which would reduce the amount of space he can use. However, after several hours of turning plans inside out, the solution has been found.

Monday 7 October, 8 pm.

The wind picks up, and the waves get larger. After 24 hours of intense navigation, enough time for the seamen to readapt to the sea, and for Bob to thankfully discover that he will not suffer from seasickness. What we discover during the storm is that the vessel handles the sea and its unpredictability incredibly well, making us feel very safe. And so, there’s no more doubt, we are now convinced that we have found the perfect boat for Plastic Odyssey’s mission!

Wednesday 9 October 12 am.

After several long hours of waiting, we finally get the authorization to enter the port. Here we are, moored in the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer. We only have 24 hours left to end the turnover with the old crew who have already begun packing.

Thursday 10 October, 8 am.

Meeting in a cabin, soon be converted into a conference room, we wait impatiently for the beginning of the maritime closing. This term, in maritime jargon, is used to refer to the sales protocol of a vessel. For us, it represents the accomplishment of a key stage of the project. After months of research, all around the world, here we are on the verge of becoming shipowners!
At the same time, in Hambourg, Germany, the closing steps follow through. The payment has been made, all that is left is to wait for its delivery. To distract ourselves, we proceed to the crew mess to have lunch.  

At 2 pm, an email from the seller opened almost by accident, brings us the news: it’s official, we are now the owners of the Victor Hensen. A vessel 40m long, 10m large, with its bright orange hull standing out from the greyish skies of Boulogne-sur-Mer. Onboard, architects, artisans, and construction representatives already find themselves imagining the Plastic Odyssey of tomorrow.

More on the Vessel

Built in: 1975
Length: 39m
Width: 9.40m
Draft: 3.05m
Type: oceanographic research
Capacity: 20 people
Original name: Victor Hensen
Previous flag state: Malta
Name (soon to be): Plastic Odyssey
New flag state: International French Register (RIF)