Minister for Industry Ian Macfarlane tours RV Investigator

The Welcome to Port Celebrations were absolutely fantastic on Friday 12 December, starting with our Minister, the Minister for Industry Ian Macfarlane, touring the new Marine National Facility research vessel, Investigator.

The Minister declared the ship to be the best research vessel in the world and we’re inclined to agree!

Check out the photos!


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The big day is here: RV Investigator’s Welcome to Port

RV Investigator

RV Investigator will be formally commissioned in Hobart today.

The day has finally arrived: our new 94 metre, A$120 million research vessel (RV) Investigator will be commissioned in Hobart today.

This marks Investigator’s transition  from being a CSIRO  ship building and commissioning project to being Australia’s new Marine National Facility ship, ready to embark on its maiden voyage in March 2015.

You may have noticed we’ve been making quite a bit of fuss about the Investigator recently. Here’s three* good reasons why.

First of all, she’s good news for Tasmania. Between them, Investigator and the Marine National Facility pump somewhere between $7 million and $11 million a year into the local economy. In the last ten years Hobart has become a marine and Antarctic science hub. CSIRO’s Oceans and Atmosphere Flagship and the University of Tasmania’s $45 million Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) headquarters are located there, along with a large number of other marine and Antarctic bodies. Investigator will enhance this.

Secondly, she’s good news for Australia in general. We will be using the expanded scientific capability of the Investigator to work on projects that are specifically selected to benefit our nation, like:

  • helping increase aquaculture productivity,
  • giving us a better understanding of the dominant role of the ocean in weather and climate variability,
  • revolutionising fisheries science and management, and
  • providing a greater understanding of the changing dynamics of the ocean floor (such as the movement of tectonic plates, which can trigger tsunamis).

And third, as Federal Industry Minister the Hon. Ian Macfarlane MP explains, she brings greater capacity to do research across Australia’s marine territory. For example, we know more about the surface of the moon than we do about our deepest oceans, and only 12% of the ocean floor within Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone has so far been mapped. With the Investigator we will now be able to map the ocean floor to any depth, search for resources, better understand our fisheries, collect weather data 20km into the atmosphere and much more.

Now that we’ve covered off the broad strokes, it’s time to take a closer look at the ship itself! First, check out this cool time lapse video of Investigator being built, from beginning to end:

And once you’re finished with that, take a tour inside:

She’s an awesome sight. If you’re in Hobart this afternoon, be sure to come down and check out the official Welcome to Port event. We’d love to see you!

*An extra super bonus reason we love the Investigator? Nautical puns.

RV Investigator’s maiden voyage southward bound

Marine National Facility media release, 12 December 2014

Today at the Welcome to Port Celebrations in Hobart, Investigator will transition from being a CSIRO  ship building and commissioning project to being Australia’s new Marine National Facility ship ready to embark on its maiden voyage in March 2015.

The Chair of the Marine National Facility (MNF) Steering Committee, Dr Ian Poiner, said the maiden voyage is a collaboration involving the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, the Integrated Marine Observing System, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, and will be led by Professor Tom Trull.

“Professor Trull’s research will continue to contribute to the global understanding of the Southern Ocean, which plays a dominant role in the movement of heat throughout the world’s oceans as it moderates the Earth’s weather, its variability, and rate of change,” Dr Poiner said.

“The voyage will redeploy the Integrated Marine Observing System’s Southern Ocean Time Series and Southern Ocean Flux Station moorings, reestablishing essential monitoring infrastructure providing time series measurements critical for our understanding of the Southern Ocean.”

“In a time of global interest in the Southern Ocean, this voyage will reinforce Australia’s research investment in the region, and will help us better understand this vast ocean’s influence on weather and rainfall in Australia and globally.”

“The 94 metre Investigator is capable of 10,000 nautical miles, or 60 days in a single voyage, and the maiden voyage is the first on which Australian researchers will have access to an enviable suite of scientific equipment that will dramatically improve Australia’s national marine knowledge, putting our country at the forefront of marine research internationally.”

“The MNF Steering Committee is very excited about managing the $120 million ship on behalf of the nation and enabling research crucial to managing our vast ocean estate,” Dr Poiner said.

“Research enabled by the MNF contributes to Australia’s national benefit, and informs government and industry to support decision making in fisheries management, geological resources, regional and global climate, coastal and offshore developments and marine operations.”

“Australia has the third largest marine jurisdiction globally, with sovereign rights over much of this vast estate and associated fishing, biotechnological, mineral, and petroleum resources.”

“These resources and their associated industries contribute to the vitality and sustained success of the Australian economy, in 2009 the national value of production across all marine-based industries was valued at AUD$ 42.3 billion, contributing to more than 10 per cent of GDP.

A full list of voyages for the next three years is available on the Marine National Facility website

Welcome to Port Celebrations tomorrow!

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Heading out on a trial voyage on board RV Investigator

With so many short voyages in and out of Hobart, it seemed like a great opportunity to show you the view from the bridge on one of the trial voyages.

Check out the time lapse video!

Supplementary call for applications

RV Investigator - Trial voyage 1 (image MNF/Stewart Wilde)

The Marine National Facility supports Australian researchers and their international collaborators in carrying out research in Australia’s regional seas and oceans.  Under direction of an independent Steering Committee, the Marine National Facility is owned and operated by CSIRO on behalf of the nation.

Supplementary applications for sea time to utilise unused capacity on Research and Transit voyages on RV Investigator during 2015-16 and 2016-17 are now being requested.

RV Investigator

The MNF’s new, state of the art research facility, Investigator, is available for research in 2015-16 and 2016-17.  Investigator is a highly advanced research vessel with a broad range of scientific equipment to support marine scientists in the following disciplines:

  • oceanography and climatology
  • fisheries, marine ecosystems and marine environmental research
  • a wide range of marine geoscience
  • multi-disciplinary marine research

Supplementary application process > Supplementary applications are designed to utilise unused capacity on Research and Transit voyages and need to work within the constraints stated for those voyages or transits.

Supplementary call for applications for the financial Year 2015‑16 and 2016-17 > Australian marine researchers are invited to submit a supplementary application for use of Investigator during the period July 2015 to June 2017.

Area of Operations > The existing Research and Transit voyages will determine the geographic areas available for supplementary applications.

Closing Data for Applications > A Supplementary application for sea time must be submitted by 12 midnight Eastern Standard Time, Friday 23 January 2015.

Further advice and the Supplementary application form is available on the MNF website

RV Investigator - Trial voyage 1 (image MNF/Stewart Wilde)

Investigator makes light of heavy weather!

RV Investigator - scientific sea trials


Over the last few weeks companies supplying scientific equipment for the Marine National Facility research vessel Investigator, have been testing and calibrating gear and preparing the ship for research voyages in 2015.

The Director of the Marine National Facility Ron Plaschke said the trial voyages departed Hobart on 27 October and 1 November and on both occasions the weather turned for the worse with rain, hail, 50 knot wind gusts (Beaufort Scale 8) and seas of up to seven metres.

“The on board stabilisation system using internal anti-roll tanks works very well, and we were impressed with the way in which the ship handled in the rough weather,” said Mr Plaschke. Vendors from around the world and across Australia have been flying into Hobart for the sea trials, and some of the equipment being testing includes:

  • Sonar:
    • to map the sea floor to any ocean depth, a capability not previously available to an Australian research ship
    • a sub-bottom profiler that maps the composition of the sea bed to 100 metres below the sea floor, which will be used for resource research
    • fish finding sonar that operates to 3,000 metres, which will be used to study commercial fish populations
  • TRIAXUS – is towed behind the ship to collect data on phytoplankton, which indicates ocean health and productivity
  • Gravity meter – is able to detect changes in the substrate of the sea bed and can be used for geological structure and resource research
  • Trawling – the ship will be able to trawl to depths of 4,000 metres, a capability Australia has not previously had available, which we believe will lead to the discovery of species new to science
  • Coring of the seafloor – in shallow water and deep water (up to 8,000 metres of water)

“It’s exciting to head out to sea and test all of these capabilities and to start the process of training the crew and the support staff in how to operate the huge variety of scientific equipment on the ship” said Mr Plaschke.

From now until early December, Investigator will be in and out of Hobart on voyages that will give scientists and crew time to develop safe work practices and procedures, particularly for deploying equipment from the main deck.

Under direction of an independent Steering Committee, the Marine National Facility is owned and operated by CSIRO on behalf of the nation.

The Welcome to Port Celebrations for RV Investigator will be held on the CSIRO Wharf at Battery Point on Friday 12 December 2014, which will mark the official handover of the ship from CSIRO to the Marine National Facility, for operation.

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