RV Investigator:  Maiden Scientific Voyage, 10 to 17 November 2014

Investigator is the new Marine National Facility flagship research vessel. Members of the UNSW Fisheries and Marine Environmental Research Facility (FAMER) were recently invited aboard the Investigator for its first ever-scientific voyage. During this voyage, the vessel’s state of the art equipment was used to explore the physical and biological oceanographic features of the shelf break off Maria Island, Tasmania. Professor Iain Suthers was the chief investigator for this voyage.

This vessel is Australia’s most technologically advanced marine research vessel and will put Australia in the forefront of ocean research globally. It is capable of operating continuously for 60 days at sea, cruising at 12 knots over a range of 10 000 nautical miles in a single voyage.


Investigator Quick Facts:

  • Cost: $126 million
  • Length: 93.9 meters
  • Beam: 18.5 meters
  • Weighs: 6082 tonne
  • Height:  from the waterline to the top of the ship is 37 metres (It has 10 internal storeys!)
  • Capable of generating enough electricity to power a small suburb
  • It can map the sea floor to any depth!  (Only 12% of Australia’s ocean terrain has been mapped)
  • Can collect weather data 20km into the atmosphere and within 150km radius of the ship

Research goals

Apart from testing out the operation of the scientific equipment, we also had the opportunity to sample off the east Tasmanian shelf. We performed cross shelf net tows, CTDs and deployed the continuous plankton recorder. Most exciting was using the TRIAXUS for the first time. The TRIAXUS is a towed undulating CTD system which can measure measure salinity, temperature, oxygen, light levels, the wavelengths involved in photosynthesis, turbidity, the quantity of phytoplankton and the size distribution and biomass of zooplankton. Data collected onboard will be used for an honours thesis at UTAS and a PhD thesis at UNSW. Professor Suthers will lead a follow up voyage onboard the Investigator in June 2015.

Professor Suthers with the TRIAXUS.


The first temperature data from the TRIAXUS showing warm East Australian current water surrounded by cooler Tasman Sea water.



CTD system (Conductivity, Temperature and Depth) is a key device that profiles the conductivity and temperature of the water column at different depths.