NSF Solicitation: Design and Construction
Regional Class Research Vessels (RCRV)
Last Update: August 28, 2012
In April 2012, NSF released a solicitation for Design and Construction of RCRVs. The NSF soliciation is available at:
Questions regarding the solicitation should be directed to the UNOLS Office at firstname.lastname@example.org . The UNOLS Office will send the questions to NSF and NSF representatives will prepare responses. The RCRV solicitation questions and responses will be posted on this website (below) so that all interested parties will be provided with the same information.
NSF Response: The formation of a consortium as part of the project team is not prohibited. However, the roles and associated costs/benefits to the project would need to be clearly articulated in the Project Execution Plan; namely the Organizational Structure, Project Baseline (Scope, Cost, Schedule) and the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). Furthermore, inclusion of a consortium would in no way negate the requirement for a separate operator selection process as described in the Design and Construction solicitation.
NSF Response: The following guidelines related to the Larger Facilities Manual have been added to the “Government Furnished Information; NSF Manuals and Guidelines” link as follows:
7. Guidelines for Planning, Use, and Oversight of Contingency in the Construction of Large Facilities
8. Definition and Use of Contingency Resources in NSF Facility Construction
9. Guidelines for Development of Project Execution Plans for Large Facilities
10. Cyber‐Security Best Practices
11. Guidelines for Reviews of Large Facilities
12. Environmental Compliance
13. Timeline for Planning and Managing the MREFC Account
14. Guidelines for use of OMB Inflators in Planning Construction of Large Facility Projects
NSF Response: Yes. Since cycloidal drives have the ability to direct full thrust 360 degrees without the use of rudders, NSF would consider them azimuthing‐type drives. With regard to Questions 2 through 5, the proposing institutions are required to include a revised draft concept design with the proposal showing how NSF determinations have been (or will be) incorporated. They are also required to include an estimated daily rate. Both of these deliverables should include discussion and impacts (positive and/or negative) from proposed propulsion system options.
NSF Response: Alternate bow thruster designs are a subject of re‐examination during Project Refresh per Section 3.v. Alternate bow thrusters arrangements may also be evaluated within the context of NSF Required Action #20, evaluation of commercially available “Green Ship” technologies; particularly if data can be provided to show improved URN and airborne noise performance from an alternate design.
NSF Response: Yes. Any reduction in space, weight or additional system requirements would be considered advantageous to the RCRV design. A flume tank is currently the preferred method of stabilization due to simplicity, but NSF recognizes their inherent limitations and impacts on the design. Please note that a full re‐evaluation of RCRV sea‐keeping characteristics is not required as part of the Project Refresh. However, if any option to the flume tank were proposed, the institution would need to provide (as a minimum) data showing that the alternate solution was at least as effective as a flume tank. The institution should also note any potential impacts on construction and/or operational cost (Normal Maintenance and Repair and/or Major Overhaul) in the initial construction and daily rate estimates provided with the proposal.
NSF Response: Yes. The URN criteria shown is the minimum requirement assuming that an azimuthing drive with inherent lower gear noise is used. Any reductions in URN below this requirement would generally be considered advantageous. However (as above), any impact on construction and/or operational cost should be incorporated into the estimates provided.
NSF Response: Potentially both. This solicitation is specifically for design and construction of the RCRV. As a minimum, the proposal should describe how an institution’s engagement in this part of the project would help it to leverage advancements in oceanography, faculty development, education and collaborative research. The solicitation does allow the Lead Institution to provisionally operate one of the vessels. As a result, it is also possible for an institution to describe how operating the vessel would promote these things if so proposed.
NSF Response: The desire to operate the first RCRV can be imbedded into sections of the full proposal as deemed appropriate by the proposing institution. Verbiage should describe the institution’s intention and ability to operate the vessel under the two conditions from the solicitation given above. NSF envisions that the desire to operate the first RCRV (or not) would impact (as a minimum) deliverables A, C, D and F. Discussion of operating the first RCRV would count against the total page limit.
NSF Response: The institution should describe their own views regarding any inherent advantages in their proposal. The Panel(s) would then consider as part of their final recommendation to NSF.
NSF Response: Operator selection for follow‐on vessels will be conducted under a separate competition as indicated in the solicitation. Note that Deliverable F only asks for cost estimates for one (1) RCRV. As above, the Lead Institution should describe their own views regarding any inherent advantages in their eventual proposal for operator selection, assuming the institution decides to compete for follow‐on vessels. The Panel would then consider as part of their final recommendation to NSF.
NSF Response: Yes.
NSF Response: NSF does not believe there is a conflict between the language and the response. As stated in the question, the solicitation wording is: “operate the vessel with the highest degree of economic efficiency within that region”; not “operate the vessel as efficiently as an institution within that region” as is inferred. NSF’s primary objective of this solicitation is the design and construction of the RCRV, not vessel operation. This may differ from the objectives of the proposing institutions. NSF will position the vessel where it is most needed to meet science utilization demands at the time of delivery. It is up to the institution to decide if it also wants to propose operating the lead vessel under this condition, as opposed to waiting to compete for the operation of any follow‐on vessel(s). Waiting might likely lead to the current model of individual operating institutions, which may or may not be the most efficient or effective for a class of Regional vessels. If an institution does propose to operate the lead vessel, the institution should clearly articulate how they will operate the vessel as efficiently as possible, including how daily rates might be affected based on decisions by NSF on vessel positioning and the organizational structure proposed. For the example given above, NSF’s expectation would be that the proposing Pacific Coast institution would illustrate in their proposal how it might most efficiently operate an RCRV positioned in the Gulf of Mexico. One of many possible solutions might be a prior agreement with a Gulf Coast institution. See response to Question 2 on the UNOLS website (NSF Response to Question 2, Week of April 30th). This scenario might lead to a different organizational model than is currently used for the Regional vessels.
NSF Response: No, it would not be considered unresponsive. However, the Panel will be tasked with evaluating the extent to which the NSF determinations have been incorporated into the design when making their recommendations to NSF (See Programmatic Review Criteria in the solicitation). The institution should clearly articulate the effect on appropriate sections of the Project Execution Plan and/or proposal deliverables (such as vessel capabilities, cost and daily rate) if deviations from the NSF determinations are proposed.
The proposal can contain an offer of institutional ship‐days assuming the institution proposes to operate the lead vessel. The number of ship days can either be fixed annually, or a range of days which average out over several years, depending on institutional requirements and the eventual ship's schedule. However, NSF's focus on this solicitation is design and construction; not operator selection. An offer of institutionally provided ship time is not listed as a one of the programmatic review criteria under this solicitation and, as a result, will not be considered a discriminator for LI selection.
NSF Response: No. The proposal requirement is to incorporate the NSF determinations to the maximum extent possible to illustrate the proposing institution’s understanding of project requirements. The institution should articulate in their proposal how they will fully incorporate all remaining details (such as the 300 registered gross tonnage limit) as part of Phase I.
NSF Response: The 1” minimum margin requirement for text should be followed. Although FastLane may give a warning, NSF would not reject a proposal if headers or footers were included within the margin for this particular solicitation.