The Australian Government has committed $120 million to the purchase of a new 85 metre research vessel for the Marine National Facility (MNF), together with an additional $30 million for the operation and maintenance of the current Australian research vessel, the RV Southern Surveyor. The Future Research Vessel (FRV) Project will open new opportunities for science to contribute to the sustainable development and management of ocean resources for the benefit of future generations. Scientists around Australia have been invited to contribute to the FRV Technical Working Group to help develop the specifications for a multi-role, blue water research vessel and its scientific equipment.
At the Geoscience Australia building in Canberra, I took part in a meeting of the Marine Geology and Geophysics Consultative Group, with a plan to give further input to the Seabed Mapping and Characterisation Sub-committee Report. Seabed mapping and characterisation is vitally important in providing the fundamental maps required for many diverse marine research programs, including biodiversity studies.
The FRV will likely have a suite of advanced seabed mapping tools to cover the full range and depths of Australia's vast marine jurisdiction, from near the equator to Antarctica.
The new vessel has been named RV Investigator after after the vessel used by Matthew Flinders to circumnavigate Australia over two centuries ago.