For this Project, the building of a sailing vessel of Portuguese design with the use of raw materials of Portuguese origin, whenever possible, is of the utmost importance. The sailing vessel will be built and equiped to enable oceanographic and environmental research, and any other type of research in the area of sciences of the sea and the atmosphere. It will be conceived to be used as a test bed for innovation, disclosure and display actions.

The David Melgueiro will be a 28 meters long ketch with steel keel. The sailing vessel will be equiped with a tiltable gantry to be used to launch scientific equipment overboard. Natural, recyclable and innovating material will be used whenever possible during the whole building process.

This project is also an engineering challenge in the field of shipbuilding. The vessel must indeed be designed to cope with the high latitudes tempests, the low temperatures in the polar regions, the pressure of the ice, and must be able to navigate in regions hardly drawn on a map, with communication difficulties such as to obtain information from satelites to facilitate navigation, etc.

The vessel must in all circumstances be easy to handle, alternative energy resources will enable the autonomous production of energy, the engine must be energy efficient and silent. And there are other needs too : need of robotical solutions, of preserving fresh food during long periods of time, of storage room and labs, the need of conditions of stability, of living space and air conditioning, all requirements enabling laboratory work even in very though climate conditions.

These are some of the challenges the engineers, designers, universities and national enterprises will have to face.