Called the RV Investigator, the Australian CSIRO Marine National Facility’s research vessel launched in 2014 is the only purpose-built ship in Australia that allows researchers to explore our vast marine terrain.
And you can take a virtual tour of the impressive vessel.
At about 94 metres in length and costing approximately $120 million, the Investigator supports scientists in the areas of atmospheric, oceanographic, biological and geoscience research.
The vessel has three main mechanisms for collecting data: instruments attached to the ship, instruments thrown over the side and reeled in like a data fishing rod, or leaving sensors in the ocean to have data pulled from them later, either by physical or remote collection.
RV Investigator was designed to comply with DNV Silent-R, an international noise standard which ensures that the monitoring equipment is not disturbed by the noise of machinery about the ship, making the vessel one of the quietest seagoing vessels in the world.
It boasts two drop keels, each about 1.3 metres wide and 3.6 metres long, shaped roughly like the wings of an aeroplane.
One keel is fitted with acoustic doppler current profilers, which are used to measure the velocity of currents, as well as a 360-degree camera and an EK60 multi frequency scientific split beam echo sounder that can operate to a depth of 3,000 metres.
The other houses an ultra-short baseline position system, a high precision hydrophone that enables researchers to record underwater sound, and can also be fitted with other equipment.
These keels combined allow the RV Investigator to measure the speed, direction and depths of currents, detect fish schools and their locations relative to the ship, measure the velocity and sound of water, and provide data about instruments towed by or moored to the ships.
During the RV Investigator’s voyages, its 3-D mapping equipment maps the sea floor and its underlying structure.
Attached to hull of the ship is a gondola, containing an advanced sonar system that can emit a beam 30 kilometres wide in water depths down to 11,500 metres.