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Functions of the RV Tom Crean from the Science Labs to A 'Drop' Keel

22nd February 2021
In this angle image of RV Tom Crean, the superstructure show the decks and those below within the hull. Scientists will have various laboraties to work from in addition to facilites also to be used by crew with accommodation in total for 26 personnel. In this angle image of RV Tom Crean, the superstructure show the decks and those below within the hull. Scientists will have various laboraties to work from in addition to facilites also to be used by crew with accommodation in total for 26 personnel. Credit: Marine Institute/Skipsteknisk AS

The level of interest on the Marine Institute's €25m newbuild RV Tom Crean is most encouraging and so Afloat continues with further details of the ship currently under construction in Spain, writes Jehan Ashmore

Before more information is outlined, just to mention the previous coverage focused on the aft deck full of high-tech equipment. This is where operations will take place using an array of state of the art machinery to perform multi-disiplinary tasks in pursuit of marine science research.

On this occasion, Afloat looks into some of the interior spaces, with further scientific functions as outlined by the Marine Institute which is to name the ship in honour of the Irish explorer. In addition facilities for crew and scientists of up to 26 in total.

Laboratory facilities

The vessel has 6 main laboratories.

CTD/Water lab: this is a 18m2 laboratory for processing Oceanographic and sediment samples. The lab is equipped with refrigerators, and -20 and -80 freezers

Constant temperature Lab: This 8m2 Laboratory is designed to maintain a constant temperature of 20 degrees C which is required for specialised scientific measuring equipment

Fish/wetlab: This 37m2 laboratory is equipped with a fish conveyor and sorting belt , fish measuring and weighing stations . This lab is used for processing and acquiring data on catches during trawl surveys . Up to 11 fisheries scientists can work in this area whilst on fishing surveys

Operations centre/Acoustic lab: This a 35m2 room on the 1st Deck where all ships acoustic sensors such as Multibeam echosounders, Fisheries echosounders, Sonars and Sub bottom profiling equipment are operated from and all data acquired and processed. The ships servers for storage of data from all systems are located here

Video Playback room

This a 12m2 room for processing footage from various subsea video systems including footage from Prawn surveys which require playback and counting of prawn burrows which is utilised to assess the stock levels of this very valuable stock.

Seawater Lab: This is a small lab on the lower deck where the ships “underway” water sampling equipment is located. This equipment measures the temperature, salinity and levels of other key parameters in seawater on a constant basis.

Drop keel

A 14 tonne “Drop keel” will be in the centre of the ship which retracts up into the hull and when deployed allows the sensors (Fisheries echosounder and multibeam echosounder) mounted on it to be positioned 2.5 metres below the ships keel to ensure they produce high quality data.

Dynamic positioning

The ship has a DP1 (Dynamic positioning class 1) which allows the vessel to hold position with high accuracy through automatic combined use of its bow and stern thrusters, rudder and propeller.


The vessel has a mix of single and double cabins to allow a maximum compliment of 26 on board. A messroom will provide seating for 26. There is a separate galley along with chilled and frozen provision rooms. In addition a separate lounge area for 12.

Published in RV Tom Crean
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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Marine Institute Research Vessel Tom Crean

Ireland’s new marine research vessel will be named the RV Tom Crean after the renowned County Kerry seaman and explorer who undertook three major groundbreaking expeditions to the Antarctic in the early years of the 20th Century which sought to increase scientific knowledge and to explore unreached areas of the world, at that time.

Irish Marine Research activities

Due to be completed in summer 2022, the new state-of-the-art multi-purpose marine research vessel will carry out a wide range of marine research activities, including vital fisheries, climate change-related research, seabed mapping and oceanography.

The new 52.8-metre modern research vessel, which will replace the 31-metre RV Celtic Voyager, has been commissioned with funding provided by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine approved by the Government of Ireland.

According to Aodhán FitzGerald, Research Vessel Manager of the MI, the RV Tom Crean will feature an articulated boom crane aft ([email protected] 10m, [email protected] 15m), located on the aft-gantry. This will be largely used for loading science equipment and net and equipment handling offshore.

Mounted at the stern is a 10T A-frame aft which can articulate through 170 degrees which are for deploying and recovering large science equipment such as a remotely operated vehicle (ROV’s), towed sleds and for fishing operations.

In addition the fitting of an 8 Ton starboard side T Frame for deploying grabs and corers to 4000m which is the same depth applicable to when the vessel is heaving but is compensated by a CTD system consisting of a winch and frame during such operations.

The vessel will have the regulation MOB boat on a dedicated davit and the facility to carry a 6.5m Rigid Inflatable tender on the port side.

Also at the aft deck is where the 'Holland 1' Work class ROV and the University of Limericks 'Etain' sub-Atlantic ROV will be positioned. In addition up to 3 x 20’ (TEU) containers can be carried.

The newbuild has been engineered to endure increasing harsher conditions and the punishing weather systems encountered in the North-East Atlantic where deployments of RV Tom Crean on surveys spent up to 21 days duration.

In addition, RV Tom Crean will be able to operate in an ultra silent-mode, which is crucial to meet the stringent criteria of the ICES 209 noise standard for fisheries research purposes.

The classification of the newbuild as been appointed to Lloyds and below is a list of the main capabilities and duties to be tasked by RV Tom Crean:

  • Oceanographic surveys, incl. CTD water sampling
  • Fishery research operations
  • Acoustic research operations
  • Environmental research and sampling operation incl. coring
  • ROV and AUV/ASV Surveys
  • Buoy/Mooring operations

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