Five questions with REV Ocean CEO Nina Jensen

Written by Charl van Rooy

Scheduled for completion in 2022, the 183-metre REV Ocean yacht is an ocean research enterprise put in motion by Kjell Inge Røkke. Although it is the Norwegian philanthropist that has realised this exciting project, the woman at the helm of the REV Ocean operation is CEO Nina Jensen. SuperYacht Times spoke with Jensen to learn more about her role in REV Ocean and the exciting sustainability and environmental aspects of the project. Nina Jensen - REV Ocean CEOPhoto: REV Ocean

Having originally specialised in marine biology, studying the impact of climate change on the reproductive success of Arctic bearded seals, Jensen spent 20 years at Norway’s World Wildlife Fund (WWF), campaigning for and implementing new conservation measures in various roles until becoming Secretary General. 

What is REV Ocean’s mission?
The vessel will be used both as a platform for gathering the knowledge that we need to understand our ocean better, and also for piloting and testing out concrete solutions to significant problems that the ocean is facing. 

Working with scientists and other NGOs, our mission is to widen our knowledge and understanding of the ocean and to make these findings more readily available so that the right data falls into the hands of the right decision-makers: the people who have the power to implement concrete solutions.REV Ocean yachtPhoto: REV Ocean

How did you get involved in the REV Ocean project?
I first encountered Kjell Inge Røkke and the Aker family of companies through my work at the WWF. He approached me with the idea of building a new research vessel at an early stage of the project and sought my assistance in the development of the concept, and so my influence in the project grew. 

Over that first year in 2016/17, he called me nearly every day, asking if I would come and work for him full time and leave the WWF. I turned him down every single day for about a year. I was sceptical about whether he was indeed serious, but after working with him for that period, I realised that he is equally passionate about the ocean as I am. 

I couldn’t think of a better plan of attack than combining my conservation and biology skills with the business savvy of an industrialist and a capitalist with enough money to actually make things happen. That is when I decided that I have to do this, and I have not regretted it for a single day since. REV Ocean yachtPhoto: REV Ocean

How can superyacht owners help protect the oceans?
I see a lot of potential in the broader maritime community and particularly in the yachting world. Most of the people with the privilege of owning a superyacht are likely very wealthy, so making sure that wealth is not supporting environmentally harmful activities can have a big impact already. 

Superyacht owners can also make an analysis of where their impact leaves the biggest footprints and then take the necessary steps to rectify that. For example, switching to alternative fuels or energy sources, implementing stricter requirements around product sourcing, and investing in sustainable practices and initiatives. For this group of individuals who get so much joy from the ocean, being able to pay back in a way and make a difference while also enjoying the sea is really the only way we should go forward. It’s yachting with a purpose.

How is REV Ocean minimising its impact on the environment?
The construction process itself has a large CO2 footprint, but we are offsetting all of our emissions to ensure we are ‘planet positive’. We have chosen mangrove restoration as the means for compensating for our carbon emissions by financially supporting a myclimate project in the Ayeyarwady Delta in Myanmar. Offsetting is a good start, but the ideal would be to eliminate our carbon and other environmental footprints from the onset, of course. To that extent, we have a zero single-use plastics policy on board REV Ocean with water fountains around the vessel to refill reusable bottles, eco-friendly uniforms and responsibly-sourced food that is served on board.  REV Ocean yacht arriving at VardPhoto: Espen Gjelsten / Fuglefjellet

What hybrid technology will REV Ocean be running on to ensure a low carbon footprint?
We have a diesel-electric propulsion system to enable as much electric propulsion as possible. Still, given that we will be operating in very challenging ocean environments and will be out at sea for long periods, we could not rely on full-electric solutions just yet. Having said that, the boat is designed to be future-proof with the flexibility to integrate newer and greener systems when they become available.



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