Damen Yachting Unveils 55m Floating Research Lab GENE CHASER

By Jenna Mehdi

Amels and Damen Yachting have confirmed the sale of the 55m Yacht Support GENE CHASER. Launched late last year under the name BLUE OCEAN, the YS 5009 support vessel was unveiled at a private ceremony at Damen Yachting’s Vlissingen facility and is revealed to have undergone a ‘period of intense transformation’ to meet her new Owner's very specific requirements.

Over the past two months, GENE CHASER has undergone a major conversion. The 55m Yacht Support will be used as a research laboratory and hub for ongoing scientific projects by her new Owner Dr Jonathan Rothberg, Damen Yachting has revealed. Soon to join her sistership 55m GENE MACHINE, the main salon on GENE CHASER has been converted into a working wet and dry laboratory. Other interior spaces have been re-designed as conference and lecture rooms to meet her new educational mission. 

GENE CHASER will accommodate seven crew members and four full-time onboard scientists. Her vast 225 square metre exterior deck, complete with high-performance knuckle boom 13-tonne capacity crane, will be used to store her sistership’s Fjord 42 tender, Hatløy Maritime Oxpro AL8 landing craft as well as additional mission-specific equipment.

Dr Jonathan Rothberg, new Owner of GENE CHASER, spoke about the motivation behind the project:

“Coronavirus reminded us of the fragility of our world. Whether it’s a global pandemic or global climate change, each of us must rise to the challenges we face, as we are best prepared. For my family, this means Gene Chaser and her onboard Gene Lab – a next generation lab to address mankind’s greatest challenges. Gene Chaser will be the tip of the spear as we deploy never before available technology to characterise, understand, and expand our knowledge of biodiversity, and identify nature’s solutions – within her genes – to the world’s greatest existential threats.” Dr Rothberg confirmed this was also the origin of the name GENE CHASER. 

“We are going to go after genes to combat global warming and clean up the oceans and the air. That’s why it’s the Gene Chaser. In our planet’s very genes lie the answers to our biggest challenges and the key to our salvation.”

Captain of GENE MACHINE Matthew Gow also acted as Owner’s representative for the experienced Owner during the sale. He comments, ‘We’ve achieved an incredible amount of work in a short period of time, and the collaboration with the team at Damen Yachting has been excellent. Watching the transformation take place has been very special and I cannot wait to see GENE CHASER alongside GENE MACHINE.’

Matthew goes on to reveal that GENE CHASER’s scientific goals had ‘been on the cards for a while’, with Damen Yachting’s Yacht Support range providing the ‘ideal solution’ for the Owner. GENE CHASER will provide useful storage and workspace for the Owner, allowing for GENE MACHINE to be dedicated to spending quality time with family onboard. 

GENE CHASER is the eighth Yacht Support vessel to be launched from the YS 5009 design. Boasting a signature Damen Sea Axe hull form for unrivalled seafaring capabilities, GENE CHASER’s unique features include a large multipurpose main deck hangar and new layout for eight guests, seven crew and four onboard scientists. Along with her sister ship, GENE CHASER will be outfitted with matching colourful LED name boards next month.

"A next generation lab to address mankind’s greatest challenges. "

Dr Jonathan Rothberg, Owner

"A next generation lab to address mankind’s greatest challenges. "

Dr Jonathan Rothberg, Owner
By Jenna Mehdi
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