Information for applicants

Access to sea time on RV Investigator is available to Australian researchers and their international collaborators via multiple access Streams that encourage a broad range of research.

2022 application call information

Key dates

Applications for grants of sea time on RV Investigator will be invited in early 2022.

Key dates in the proposed application schedule are provided below.

Supplementary Applications (voyage schedule 2023-24) - CLOSED

  • Call open: 1 Feb to 3 Mar 2022
  • Successful applicants are expected to be advised in late April 2022.

Go to Supplementary Applications

Primary Applications (voyage schedule 2024-25) - NO CALL MADE

  • As a result of the COVID pandemic, the need for rescheduling of voyages and the upcoming mid-life refit of RV Investigator, only limited research days remain in the 2024-25 voyage schedule.
  • As such, applications for the 2024-25 voyage schedule will not be invited through a Primary Call.


Instead of a Primary Application Call in 2022, the MNF will schedule highly ranked voyages that were previously endorsed by the MNF Steering Committee but unable to be accommodated in prior schedules. This will avoid the research community putting in a significant amount of effort to apply for only a small allocation of available days.

This approach also provides contingency for impacts from the ongoing and changing nature of COVID.

Applications were made under one of five access Streams. Applications were competitively assessed against criteria related to Research Quality and Research Benefit (refer Application assessment).

Fully-funded grants of sea time on RV Investigator are provided through the Granted Voyage program. This is funded by the Australian Government for full-year operation of RV Investigator.

For further information about the Primary Application process, visit Primary applications or watch the webinar below.


Watch the webinar

Recording of webinar on 2 Mar 2021:  Applying for sea time with MNF


See bottom of this page for answers to Frequently Asked Questions.

Annual application cycle

The MNF awards fully-funded grants of sea time for research on Research Vessel (RV) Investigator through a competitive application process. Applications are invited in an annual application cycle that begins with a call for Primary applications to build the voyage schedule, usually two years in advance. Opportunities to fill any unused capacity in the voyage schedule are then invited through calls for Supplementary and Piggyback applications. The sea time grants program is fully-funded by the Australian government.

Application assessment

All applications for sea time, irrespective of access Stream applied for, are assessed against criteria under two merit principles: Research Quality Research Benefit
Find out more
Three people crouching down and looking out from the ship.


MAPS will only let you select one Stream per proposal and the application form for each Stream is customised. If you believe your project could fit under more than one Stream, you must select the most appropriate Stream.

To select appropriate Stream, review the Stream Objectives and Definitions provided in MNF 2030 and the Operations Rolling Plan for the Application Call.

For further advice, please email

The 2021 Application Call is for sea time in the 2023-24 voyage schedule so it is impossible to predict what the situation may be then. Even now, we are regularly reviewing our COVID-19 Protocols as the situation changes and will continue to do so while the threat remains.

Applicants don't need to include risk mitigation for COVID-19 in their application. MNF will take this risk into consideration during the scheduling process, if your application for sea time is successful.

Yes, where spare capacity exists, both Supplementary and Piggyback application opportunities will be offered to ensure full utilisation of available berths and capacity on every voyage. 

A Supplementary Call will be made once the Primary Schedule for the period January 2023 to June 2024 is published. Supplementary and Piggyback applications will also be made through MAPS.

To discuss Piggyback applications, please email

The MNF run an annual call for Primary Applications. Typically, these calls are made to fill a 12 month voyage schedule.

No Application Call was made in 2020 due to COVID-19 disruption to our normal operating schedule. The 2021 Application Call has been extended and is providing access to a longer schedule period to give applicants time to familiarise themselves with changes arising from MNF 2030 and the new online application portal, MAPS.

The MNF is Australia's dedicated blue-water research facility enables world-class research across our vast marine estate. We take applications from researchers for projects on RV Investigator and, where deemed appropriate, other alternative platforms to enable marine research anywhere in our region, from the sea ice edge to the tropics. 

At this time, there are no formal arrangements in place with the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) to co-schedule Southern Ocean voyages between RSV Nuyina and RV Investigator.

To be eligible to make an application for sea time, the Principal Investigator must be employed by an Australian research organisation and be based in Australia.

However, collaboration - both national and international - is highly regarded and encouraged in sea time applications to the MNF. Co-Investigators named in the application can be from overseas research organisations or work overseas for Australian research organisations.

Yes, an application under Stream 4 (Technology and Innovation) can be made to test a new piece of equipment. The purpose of this Stream is to promote and support innovation in marine systems and technology, including testing new equipment and methods to enhance marine research, and to test technology related to the blue economy.

Stream 4 applications are assessed using the same merit criteria as other streams, with input from expert technology researchers and industry, where required.

The MNF is experienced with the steps required to integrate user supply equipment with our research platforms and will facilitate this process during voyage planning. A request for funding to enable integration will be assessed on a case by case basis.  

To discuss Stream 4 applications or use of user supplied equipment, please email

The impacts from COVID-19 on last year’s voyage schedule resulted in the cancellation of voyages from 26 March 2020 until the re-start of at-sea operations on 29 July 2020. These impacts affected five scheduled voyages.

The MNF has worked closely with voyage partners and participating institutions to manage the disruption to our schedule and re-schedule voyages wherever possible. Despite the disruption, only three voyages were cancelled, all at the request of the participating institutions.

We appreciate the patience of all in the marine research community as we work together in these challenging times.

You cannot share your unique login credentials for MAPS but you are able to assign a single Lead Principal Investigator (other than yourself) and download a single page or full application PDF to share with collaborators.

Yes, voyage tracks and stations locations can be displayed in MAPS via the LOGISTICS tab – map editor tool.

Yes, MAPS is a Marine Facilities Planning software system that is a designed to integrate the different aspects of equipment management and ship scheduling to streamline and integrate the process of delivering research voyages.

The MFP system is used by other institutions and organisations internationally including UK, Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Japan. 

Yes, MAPS will allow you to print the entire application as a PDF to be able to see all sections that require completing.

The only information required to be populated before you can progress in MAPS is the project title. Once you’ve entered a title, you can view all of the sections of the application questions, along with their word limits, to complete at your leisure.

Please note that you are also able to change your project title after you have started an application, should you wish to.

Stream 3 is for research undertaken as part of publicly funded programs that rely on regular and repeated access to MNF capabilities to support data and sample collection, and for which use of a national research facility is appropriate.

While Stream 3 is aimed at identified programs, prospective programs applicants will need to identify a Principal Investigator to represent the program applying for a Strategic Partnership in MAPS and contact the MNF at an early stage. This is required ahead of submitting an application, to verify that the research proposed is appropriate for a partnership arrangement. 

Additional information will be provided for applicants when they select Stream 3 in the Project Summary tab in MAPS (both 'Research Stream' and 'Project Title' contain special instructions for Stream 3 applicants).

Our online application system (MAPS) requires applicants to select a single Stream of access per proposal. We would expect the majority of applicants for Stream 1 access to align their research clearly with a single priority.

However, if you can demonstrate that your project addresses both priorities identified for Stream 1 and you choose to align your application with both, you would need to clearly answer all Research Quality and Research Benefit questions with regard to both end-users’ priorities and provide evidence of support from both end-users in your application.