Research vessel: Investigator

RV Investigator is our state-of-the-art marine research vessel, supporting Australia’s atmospheric, oceanographic, biological and geosciences research from the tropical north to the Antarctic ice-edge.

So much of our deep ocean remains a mystery - we know more about the moon than we do about our deepest oceans.

The Marine National Facility's research vessel Investigator enables researchers to head out into the Indian, Pacific and Southern Oceans to:

  • undertake deep sea oceanography
  • map and study the geology of Australia's marine estate to underpin resource exploration
  • monitor and better understand our fisheries
  • learn more about our weather patterns and large ocean processes.

The Marine National Facility's new research vessel.

A state-of-the-art research vessel

In May 2009, the Australian Government allocated $120 million for a new ocean-going research vessel to replace the 66-metre Southern Surveyor.

We designed, built and commissioned the vessel through the Future Research Vessel Project, an initiative of the Australian Government under the Super Science Initiative and financed from the Education Investment Fund.

Given the name RV Investigator after a national naming competition, the 93.9 metre ship is capable of spending up to 300 days a year at sea, supporting activities across a range of disciplines in oceanographic, geological, biological and atmospheric.

Explore the Investigator with this virtual tour.

Each voyage is able to accommodate up to 40 scientists and support staff, and can go to sea for up to 60 days at a time and cover 10 000 nautical miles.

We own and operate the Marine National Facility on behalf of the nation, and its operation is guided by an independent steering committee. The ship is funded by the Australian Government to support voyages by Australian scientists and their overseas collaborators.

Exploring ocean ecosystems, geology and weather

Australia has one of the world’s largest marine territories, much of which remains unexplored, with only one blue-water research vessel available to our marine research community.

Investigator: a new era in marine and atmospheric research

Marine research is vital to the sustainable development and management of the ocean, and to understanding its influence in the region and around the world.

The 94-metre Investigator has been built to specifically meet the needs of Australian marine scientists to undertake geoscience, atmospheric, biological and oceanographic research.

Examples of some of its state-of-the-art features and capabilities include:

  • Mapping the sea floor at any depth. Australia has the third largest ocean territory in the world, but only 25 per cent of Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) has been mapped with multibeam. Much of our deep ocean remains unexplored and unknown.
  • Studying what marine life lives between 1500 to 3000 metres below the surface to learn more about where fish live, eat and breed in order to better manage our fisheries.
  • Collecting data in a 150 kilometre radius around the ship to improve our weather forecasts. It is one of only a handful of vessels globally that has a weather radar on board.
  • Capturing water samples as deep as 7000 metres to help understand where ocean currents travel and to monitor changes in deep ocean temperatures. 

The leading edge of ocean research

Australia’s oceans are estimated to contribute $42 billion annually to our economy, increasing to over $100 billion in ten years. The ship is technically impressive and will open up avenues of discovery both within and across scientific disciplines.

With about $20 million worth of scientific equipment for oceanographic, geological, biological and atmospheric research, the ship will dramatically improve the national marine knowledge.

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