A surface net being towed through the water

Research capability

Investigator is a multi-purpose research vessel configured to enable a wide range of atmospheric, biological, geoscience and physical oceanographic research. To maximise the performance of the acoustic equipment and minimise environmental noise, the ship is DNV-Silent-R compliant which is achieved by minimising noise from all on board machinery. This will increase the range and resolution of seabed mapping, sub-surface imaging, and marine ecosystem monitoring instruments, and it will allow scientists to provide better estimates of the number of fish and other species in the marine environment.

Crew working on deck.

Working on deck.

Air sampling

The vessel has an air sampling inlet on the foremast with air pumped to two dedicated laboratories and forward container laboratories.

Back deck and mid ship operations

Investigator’s rear deck areas allow a wide range of equipment and container laboratories to be fitted as required by researchers and provides maximum flexibility for deployments.

The stern A-frame is capable of travelling through a wide arc of movement (i.e. horizontal aft and 10o above deck forward) and has a 20 tonne capacity.

A knuckle-boom crane provides the capability to move equipment between the wharf, aft-deck and Level 2 deck and can lift up to 25 tonnes at a 12 metre radius or 5 tonnes at a 20 metre radius.

Bubble sweep zone

Investigator’s hull shape was tested using computer-based fluid dynamic methods to ensure any bubbles swept down under the ship would not interfere with the acoustic equipment.  To further ensure the ship created fewer bubbles, the bow was designed to avoid the use of a bulbous-shaped bow and a tunnel thruster; instead, Investigator has a soft nose stem and retractable azimuth bow thruster.

Cool room and freezers

There is a blast freezer, cool room, two walk-in freezers and two ultra-low temperature freezers ( 80oC) so samples can be stored for later analysis on the vessel or at shore based facilities.

Container laboratories

The vessel can support up to 13 container laboratories in a range of configurations. See Container laboratories.

Deployable equipment

The MNF can deploy an extensive range of equipment. Some of this is part of the ship's onboard outfit and is available on every voyage. Other equipment can be placed on board on request or in some cases is available through external agencies. Depending on the level of specialised support required for additional equipment, charges may apply.

Drop keels

The vessel has two drop keels, both capable of being deployed to a depth of 4m below the keel. Both keels can be deployed at speeds less than 5 knots. The port side keel houses split-beam acoustic instruments, two ADCPs, a 360° looking camera and seawater inlet. The starboard side keel houses a high precision hydrophone, ultra-short baseline (USBL) positioning system and caters for user instrumentation.


Investigator has a 13.5 metre long by 9.5 metre wide gondola, fixed 1.5 metre below the hull. The gondola houses two multibeam systems and a full-ocean depth sub-bottom profiler providing capability for high-resolution sea floor mapping to depths up to 11,500 metres.


The vessel has a range of on board laboratories and preparation rooms. See Laboratories.

Scientific seawater

The vessel has four independent scientific seawater systems. Two 100 litre/minute clean seawater systems - one dedicated to underway measurements. One 100 litre/minute trace metal clean seawater system and one high volume raw seawater system.


The vessel has a range of winch systems to support the various types of research. See Specifications.

For more information contact the MNF Operations Group.

Updated: 27 November 2014