Operations Rolling Plan

The Operations Rolling Plan provides a snapshot of the calendar of activities over the next five voyage schedules and is an important planning tool for prospective applicants.

Download the plan

This document is available for download:

PDF: MNF Operations Rolling Plan 2023 [pdf · 3mb]

TXT: MNF Operations Rolling Plan 2023 [txt · 1mb]


The MNF Operations Rolling Plan (the Plan) is an important component in guiding the efficient use of Australia’s dedicated marine research capability. It seeks to help ensure that access to the MNF is broad and equitable, and that we enable excellent research that is aligned with Australia’s national research priorities.

The Plan is updated annually and released at the time of a call for Primary Applications for sea time. It is provided to help prospective users engage effectively in MNF processes. This includes developing and submitting robust proposals for sea time, and facilitating liaison with end users of research outputs.

For each Primary Application call, the Plan outlines:

  • Streams for which applications are sought
  • allocation targets to guide granting of sea time across the Streams
  • MNF policy-driven priorities to define the focus for Stream 1 applications (further detail provided below)
  • overview of the operations over the forward schedules, including any multiyear projects as part of strategic partnerships or previous years’ applications
  • annual operational performance targets.

The Plan also provides a five-year outlook for the voyage schedule in the Operations Calendar. This is an important planning tool for prospective ship users.

Stream 1 priorities for 2023 application round

Two areas of research have been selected to address key data and science gaps critical to supporting Australia’s marine research impact economically, environmentally, and socially. These priorities are:

  1. Biodiversity discovery, baselines and monitoring and management effectiveness (End-user: Parks Australia)
  2. Towards an earth system numerical prediction capability – Ocean‑atmosphere interactions (End-user: Bureau of Meteorology)

The MNF hosted two workshops in March 2023 to connect end-users with researchers interested in applying for sea time. At these workshops, prospective users had the opportunity to discuss end-user needs, researcher solutions, and co-design of proposals to be submitted under Stream 1.

Further information about the Stream 1 end-users and priority research areas is provided below.

End-user: Australian Marine Parks

Priority: Biodiversity discovery, baselines and monitoring and management effectiveness

About the end-user

Parks Australia manage the Australian Marine Parks which are one of the largest representative networks of marine protected areas in the world. They are in Commonwealth Waters - that is from 5.5 km from the coastline to the edge of Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone about 370 km offshore - and encompass waters that for the most part occur over the outer continental shelf, continental slope and abyss. Most Australian Marine Parks are remote and deep.

To undertake research in many Australian Marine Parks therefore requires a well-equipped ocean research vessel capable of extended voyages, like RV Investigator.

Website: Parks Australia

About their priority

Australian Marine Parks 2018 Management Plans provide for a ten-year Marine Science Program with three broad objectives:

  1. increasing understanding of marine park values, pressures and adequacy of responses
  2. improving understanding of the effectiveness of park management in protecting park values
  3. informing decision making and improving evidence-based decisions.

Under Stream 1, MNF invites applications to undertake research projects that explicitly address actions contained in the Marine Science Program that are a priority for the management and protection of Australian Marine Parks.

Research and data delivered through proposals to address this priority should seek to directly inform any of the following:

  • Digital catalogues of natural values within Australian Marine Parks, for example Australian Marine Parks Science Atlas
  • Assessment of environmental impacts of activities and pressures within Australian Marine Parks
  • Evidence about effectiveness of zoning and management arrangements
  • Decadal reviews of management plans for Australian Marine Parks
  • Strategic prioritisation of investment in management and further research.

More Information 

Further information on Australian Marine Parks, their Management Plans and priority areas of focus for the 2023 application round is provided in the MNF Operations Rolling Plan 2023.


End-user: Australia's Bureau of Meteorology

Priority: Towards an earth system numerical prediction capability – Ocean‑atmosphere interactions

About the end-user

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (the Bureau) is focussed on delivering world class services for all Australians – in line with their goals of contributing towards zero lives lost due to meteorological and oceanographic hazards and the provision of billions of dollars of additional economic value to the nation. The Bureau will focus on targeted improvements to both underpinning numerical prediction capabilities and to forecast delivery and services to deliver more accurate, timely, and tailored insights over the next decade.

To undertake science relevant to the Bureau requires a well-equipped ocean research vessel equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation for atmospheric measurements. They also require a vessel with an extended range and operating envelope to provide researchers with the opportunity to make observations in the most remote and inhospitable regions of Australia’s marine estate, like RV Investigator

Website: Bureau of Meteorology

About their priority

The Bureau has recently released its Research and Development Plan 2020-2030 with key drivers including a strategic focus on Antarctica, the Southern Ocean and the Pacific, and a commitment to collaboration with partners both nationally and internationally. It is framed to deliver:

  • higher-resolution, more localised, timely and impact-based forecasts and warnings
  • more precise, accurate and reliable models
  • next-generation Numerical Environmental and Weather-climate Prediction (NEWP) systems
  • seamless weather and climate insights for improved risk-based decision-making.

Under Stream 1, the MNF invites applications for sea time to undertake projects that address questions about ocean and atmosphere interactions for the purpose of supporting the integration of atmosphere, ocean, sea-ice and hydrology models.

Projects addressing this priority would directly contribute to an improved understanding, informed by observations, of fundamental Southern Ocean atmospheric and ocean-atmospheric processes, including a focus on the Antarctic marginal ice zone. Research and data delivered through proposals to address this priority should seek to align with the Bureau’s objectives to deliver significant benefits to all Australians through:

  • improved information to better prepare Australians for future weather and climate events
  • improved forecasts and climate projections for Australia and surrounding regions
  • greater lead time and enhanced confidence in warnings of extreme and multi-hazard events
  • improved public safety and community well-being, and reduced property damage from severe weather events and hazards.

More Information

Further information on the Bureau, their drivers and priority areas of focus for the 2023 application round is provided in the MNF Operations Rolling Plan.

Operations Calendar 2022-27

The Operations Calendar provided in the published MNF Operations Rolling Plan 2023 is provided for general guidance only and is current only at the time of publish.

Prospective ship users should use this calendar as a general guide for their application planning but note that the MNF may be required to edit or update this schedule at any time in response to operational requirements.

Further information