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

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

The Marine National Facility's Research Vessel (RV) Investigator enables researchers to voyage anywhere in Australia's vast ocean estate to:

  • undertake deep sea oceanography
  • map and study the geology of Australia's marine estate
  • 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 RV 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 94 metre ship is capable of delivering up to 300 research days a year, enabling research across a range of disciplines in oceanographic, geological, biological and atmospheric science.

Explore RV Investigator with this virtual tour.

Each voyage is able to accommodate up to 40 scientists and support staff, as well as 20 crew, and the ship can remain at 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 international 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 dedicated ocean 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 globally.

RV Investigator is a highly flexible research platform built specifically to meet the needs of Australian marine research community.

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 to a modern standard. Much of our deep ocean remains unexplored and unknown.
  • Studying marine life found 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 weather data in a 150 kilometre radius around the ship to improve our weather modelling and forecasts. RV Investigator is one of only a handful of vessels globally that has an advanced weather radar on board.
  • Capturing water samples from as deep as 7000 metres to help understand ocean properties and to monitor changes. 

The leading edge of ocean research

Australia's oceans are estimated to contribute $42 billion annually to our economy, with this increasing to over $100 billion by 2025. The ship is technically impressive and has opened 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 is delivering research that is dramatically improving the national marine knowledge.

Interested in helping us further this research?

We seek research collaborators with complementary skills so we can work together for stronger results.

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