Investigator sets sail—a new era in marine and atmospheric research

The Research Vessel, Investigator


CSIRO have launched research vessel Investigator, a new state-of-the-art marine research vessel that supports Australia’s atmospheric, oceanographic, biological and geosciences research from the tropical north to the Antarctic ice-edge.

The Investigator embarked on its maiden voyage on 21 March into the Southern Ocean. Australian scientists on board will be undertaking key research to better understand the basic forces driving climate change including:

  • undertake deep sea oceanography
  • map and study the geology of Australia's marine estate to underpin resource exploration
  • monitor and better understand our fisheries
  • learn more about our weather patterns and large ocean processes.

Leading edge ocean research

Australia’s oceans are estimated to contribute $42 billion annually to our economy, increasing to over $100 billion in ten years. With about $20 million worth of scientific equipment for oceanographic, geological, biological and atmospheric research, the ship will dramatically improve the national marine knowledge.

A state-of-the-art research vessel

The 93.9 metre ship is capable of spending up to 300 days a year at sea. With each voyage being able to accommodate up to 40 scientists and support staff, and can go to sea for up to 60 days and cover 10,000 nautical miles.

The Marine National Facility is owned and operated by CSIRO on behalf of the nation, and its operation is guided by an independent steering committee. The ship is funded by the Australian Government to support voyages by Australian scientists and their overseas collaborators.

Exploring ocean ecosystems, geology and weather

Australia has one of the world’s largest marine territories, much of which remains unexplored. Marine research is vital to the sustainable development and management of the ocean, and to understanding its influence in the region and around the world.

Features and capabilities include:

  • mapping the sea floor to any depth. Only 12 per cent of Australia’s seafloor has been mapped, so this will allow better management our ocean resources
  • studying what lives between 1500 to 3000 metres below the surface, learning more about where fish live, eat and breed in order to better manage our fisheries
  • collecting data in a 150 kilometre radius around the ship to improve our weather forecasts. Only few vessels, globally, have a weather radar on board
  • capturing water samples as deep as 7000 metres to help understand where ocean currents travel and to monitor changes in deep ocean temperatures.

For more information visit the CSIRO website

Published 13 April 2015

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