The $122 million RV Investigator, CSIRO's new blue-water research ship, has completed construction and sea trials and is about to make its first journey from Singapore's shipyards to its new home in Hobart. Although it's 11 months late for action, Investigator will add significant research capacity to Australia's scientific endeavours.
The RV Investigator, named to honour the Investigator that Matthew Flinders circumnavigated Australia in between 1801 and 1803, was ordered in 2011 after a 2009 government grant of $120 million for a research vessel to replace the decommissioned Southern Surveyor built in 1988. It was slated to be delivered in late 2013, but delays have meant the ship has only just been made ready for delivery.
According to the ABC, the build's one-off nature and the specific requirements of such a research ship meant that the delays were within expectations, but project head Toni Moate, in Singapore to take delivery, is upbeat: "We've had to work hard. At the end of the day it's really the quality of the ship as a floating research platform that's of most interest to the scientists. You have to be on the Investigator to get some sense of how enormous it is and the scale of the operation."
The Investigator will sail for Hobart imminently and will start research work next year. It can support 40 scientists at a time for sojourns of up to 60 days and 10,000 nautical miles at once, and can operate for up to 300 days per year offshore, but significant cuts to CSIRO's funding in the Federal Budget mean that Investigator will only spend 180 days at sea in 2015. [ABC]