RV Investigator at sea from the air

Investigator 2014-

Investigator is a 93.9 metre purpose-built research vessel, capable of travelling 10,800 nautical miles in a single voyage, carrying up to 40 scientists and support staff, from the equator to the Antarctic ice-edge. The $120 million ship was completed in 2014, and will support atmospheric, oceanographic, biological and geoscience research. The Marine National Facility operates an annual financial year schedule from July to June.

RV Investigator bridge

RV Investigator bridge

As Australia has only one blue-water research vessel available for work around our vast marine estate, Investigator strives to be all things to all Australian marine scientists. Technically impressive and with an enviable suite of equipment, the ship will dramatically improve our national marine knowledge, putting Australia at the forefront of ocean research globally.

The ship has been specifically designed to an international radiated noise standard known as DNV Silent-R. Achieving this classification places Investigator as one of the quietest vessels in the world. Radiated ship noise interferes with acoustic signals, and by building a quiet ship, Investigator will have leading edge ability to monitor the marine ecosystem and map the seafloor.



Oceanographic research

Oceanographers seek to understand the dynamics of the ocean and observe changes across seasons and decades, to better understand weather, climate and how changes impact fisheries, offshore infrastructure and coastal developments. Investigator will enable the deployment of large surface and sub-surface moorings, the deployment of oceanographic sampling equipment to depths of 7,000 m and ability to tow equipment 3,000 m behind the ship to collect data.

Geoscience research

Investigator is equipped with advanced geoscience equipment to map the sea floor and its underlying structure. Attached to the ship’s hull is a steel housing called a gondola, which contains advanced sonar technology. Acoustic signals are emitted in a beam that is 30 km wide in water depths to 11,500 m to reveal, in 3D, seafloor features such as deep sea canyons and mountains. Investigator has sophisticated equipment to probe the make-up of the seabed and below.

Biological research

Marine biologists on board Investigator can study ocean life with the latest fish assessment sonar that can reach to depths of 3,000 m and collect passive data on where species live, eat and breed. Combined with the seafloor mapping technology, this will greatly improve our understanding of ocean ecosystems. There is also a range of sampling equipment including small fine gauge surface nets to large ocean trawling nets used to capture species down to 5,000 m, sea floor sampling equipment, incubation and refrigeration facilities.

Atmospheric research

Investigator is the first Australian research vessel with laboratories dedicated to analysing the interaction between the ocean and atmosphere and one of only a few around the world fitted with a weather radar. Atmospheric research data will help us understand and predict changes in local, regional and global weather and rainfall patterns.

Updated: 15 August 2016