Investigator has been designed to provide a step change in marine and atmospheric research capability in Australia.

Fitted out with a range of state of the art equipment as described in the following pages, Investigator is particularly suited to multi-disciplinary projects in oceanography, climatology, geoscience, fisheries and ecosystem research and will act as a catalyst for international collaboration.  For example, Investigator is one of only a handful of research vessels in the world designed for very quiet operation and has the ability to undertake acoustic mapping and sampling to the deepest parts of our oceans.  With greatly increased atmospheric research capabilities, the vessel’s weather radar can study detailed cloud formation processes in a 150km radius up to 20km above the ship.


Capital Expenditure (CapEx)

Each year, the Marine National Facility (MNF) conduct a process of identifying, prioritising and planning for the acquisition of major items of equipment to feed into CSIRO’s Capital Expenditure (CapEx) program. This program provides an opportunity for CSIRO Business Units and Facilities to bid for annual funding to procure assets to support and enhance scientific capability and to deliver scientific research and innovative solutions for industry, society and the environment. The MNF applied this funding to the acquisition of the following items of scientific equipment.

Atmospheric sampler Scientist using a greenhouse gas spectrometer

Air and the aerosols can be continually drawn down into the aerosol laboratory and air chemistry laboratory and analysed by automated equipment while the vessel is at sea.

Cranes Main crane

Investigator is equipped with a number of cranes with varying capabilities, ranging from the main 25 tonne crane with a versatile 12 metre reach, to the stores crane with a 5 tonne capability at ten metres providing access and service to each deck and compartment at sea or in port.

CTD CTD package being lowered into the water.

CTD stands for and measures Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth. However the CTD actually measures pressure, which is not quite the same thing as depth. The relationship between pressure and depth is a complex one involving water density and compressibility as well as the strength of the local gravity field. The CTD data can be used to calculate salinity, density, sound velocity, and other parameters of interest.

Drop keels drop keel

A unique feature of the vessel are two drop keels that contain an array of scientific instruments.

Gondola Gondola under Investigator

In designing Investigator a lot of time was spent looking at the bubble characteristics of the hull using scale models in simulation tanks. Bubbles interfere with the performance of acoustic instruments so to reduce the problem, instruments need to be below the bubble layer created by the hull.

Gravity meter A technician works with the Gravity meter

Investigator will have a gravity meter on board, to measure small changes in the gravity field due to effects from the underlying rocks and sediments.

Marine and fisheries acoustics and sub surface mapping A bathymetric map of the seafloor

Even though 70% of Australia’s territory is underwater, only 25% of Australia’s EEZ has been mapped with multibeam.

Moorings Mooring deployment at sea, Max McGuire

Moorings are specialised sea laboratories that are deployed in a location and left there for one to two years. Their big advantage is that they can monitor over a long period and provide an understanding of the changes that occur. This is something a research vessel cannot do as it is in one area for a relatively short period of time.

Plankton nets A surface net being towed through the water

From the tropics to the ice edge, Investigator's nets are deployed while the vessel is underway to capture tiny species at every level of the water column to better understand the life cycle and ecosystems of marine plants and animals.

Sediment coring Geological samples, photo Michelle Linklater

There is a dedicated coring system on the vessel and other units can be brought on board by research groups as required.

Sleds and dredges Rock dredge containing sample being brought aboard.

Rock dredges and Sherman sleds are deployed from Investigator to collect biological samples, sediment and both large and small rocks from shallow reef zones down to the deepest parts of the ocean providing a greater understanding of the changing dynamics of the sea floor.

Towed bodies On board towed camera system

Investigator has a comprehensive suite of equipment for carrying out geoscience, geophysics, paleoceanography research and sea floor mapping.

Trace metal equipment Trace metal clean laboratory work (image MNF/Andrew Bowie)

Trace metals such as iron and zinc are dissolved in seawater at very low concentrations. Some are important in sustaining life, some are toxic, some are indicators of pollution and others are important indicators of chemical reactions that occur in the sea.

Triaxus Triaxis being deployed

The Triaxus is a towed undulating CTD used to collect horizontal profile measurements of the water column.

Underway water sampling Detail of spring loaded sampling tubes

Investigator monitors seawater properties while underway.

Weather radar A radome atop of RV Investigator

The weather research radar is the impressive large soccer ball shaped object on top of the ship.

XBT An example of the data that can be collected by the TRIAXUS

The Expendable Bathythermograph (XBT) is a device for obtaining a record of temperature as a function of depth in the ocean. They can be deployed from moving ships and from non-research vessels which broadens the situations in which they can be used.

Updated: 14 October 2016