As the name suggests, research vessels are critical tools for scientific research at sea. Covering around 70% of our planet, the ocean plays a major role in determining weather patterns and is home to up to one million species of animals and plants. What’s more, its geological and topographical features can help us better understand our world around us.
James Cook’s infamous Endeavour is often considered an early form of research vessel. The ship housed ‘research personnel’ and equipment to record the transit of Venus around the sun. These early explorers, like Cook, were key in chartering new territories and creating maps for the new world.
Nowadays, research vessels have evolved into ocean-going laboratories, boasting the latest in scientific and engineering technologies. In some cases, they can even navigate through ice in polar regions. You could say, the role of the RV hasn’t really changed, as they still give us insight into the world, how it works, and why.
The role of research vessels
Hydrographic and oceanographic vessels represent the most scientifically advanced ships for research purposes. Both are responsible for conducting surveys based on the properties of sea water, marine life, and geology—amongst other areas. These vessels can contribute to nautical maps helping other seafarers, both civilian and military, to navigate the ocean using shipping routes laid out by researchers.
Fishery RVs tend to be small in stature, like fishing vessels. Instead of storage for the day’s catch, the space on board is used to store equipment for monitoring species of fish and collecting water samples. Other tasks that can be performed by research vessels include conducting seismic surveys and discovering sources for oil and minerals.
With regard to the vessel in question, the most innovative technologies are being introduced—including the installation of state-of-the-art fin stabilizers.
Some types of research vessels include hydrographic survey vessels, oceanographic research vessels, naval, polar, and fishery research vessels.
Steady as she goes
Retractable type Z fin stabilizers from SKF will significantly increase stability on board a new, record-breaking research vessel to be launched next year. These components will help prevent equipment from being damaged in transit. Simultaneously, they can facilitate smooth sailing conditions for charterers and researchers. Crew will be able to carry out their work at ease. Fully retractable, the stabilizers can be deployed simultaneously or ‘one at a time’ and are easy to control, using a highly reliable automatic control system.
The design of the fin stabilizers comprises innovative covers, which have been adapted to further reduce drag at the fin box opening and, in turn, reduce fuel consumption. These covers are simple in design: two inflatable cushions sit at the top and bottom of the fin box on either side of the ship. The cushions fill with compressed air and smother the fin boxes to make them streamlined.
Fin stabilizers are typically installed on research vessels, as well as cruise ships and luxury yachts, where comfort and stability are required. They can help to ensure a smooth ride, even in treacherous conditions at sea. For research vessels to be able to give accurate readings when, for example, monitoring the sea bed, it’s important that any movement is kept to a minimum. The aforementioned research vessel will benefit from fin stabilizers as soon as she enters service and will continue to reap the rewards in years to come.