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The Presidents of Ireland and Portugal Visit Ireland’s New State of the art Research Vessel RV Tom Crean in Dublin

21st October 2022
President Higgins with his wife Sabina, President de Sousa and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue on board Ireland’s new state of the art research vessel RV Tom Crean in Dublin Port
President Higgins with his wife Sabina, President de Sousa and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue on board Ireland’s new state of the art research vessel RV Tom Crean in Dublin Port

The Marine Institute was delighted to welcome the Presidents of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins and Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa on a visit to the newly commissioned research vessel RV Tom Crean berthed in Dublin’s docklands. President de Sousa is currently on a state visit to Ireland.

As Afloat reported earlier, RV Tom Crean made its maiden call to Dublin last night

President Higgins and President de Sousa met with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, the CEO of the Marine Institute, Dr Paul Connolly, and the Institute’s Chairperson, Dr John Killeen.

The Portuguese and Irish delegations were given a tour of the new marine research vessel, after it returned from a fisheries assessment survey in the Celtic sea, following its commissioning in Dingle, Kerry on October 6th. Marine Institute staff outlined the state-of-the-art technology on the ship. This will greatly enhance Ireland’s capacity to undertake many diverse ocean science surveys, participate in international collaborative research projects and acquire the ocean data and knowledge essential to inform and inspire the sustainable management of our vast marine resources.

Representatives of the several government Departments, including the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, Department of Foreign Affairs along with several Marine Institute staff were present on the vessel. The itinerary included a short meeting to discuss emerging ocean policy areas in Ireland and Portugal and how improved cooperation on ocean science and research can benefit policy, our people and our planet.

Minister Charlie McConalogue said, “We are honoured to welcome President Higgins and President de Sousa to the RV Tom Crean, to showcase the technology on our new state-of-the-art research vessel and to discuss the importance of ocean science. This vessel gives Ireland the capacity to deepen our understanding of the ocean and to put sustainable seafood as one of the key components of our ocean science agenda.”

The global policy landscape has radically changed over the last few years, driven by COVID-19 and the impacts of the war in Ukraine. The ocean has the potential to address many of these new policy areas, including food and energy security and climate change. Science has a key role to play, and cooperation between Atlantic countries will be key. This presents great opportunities for Ireland and Portugal in the ocean science space. The informal discussions on the ship focused on sustainable seafood, how we manage our ocean space (marine spatial planning), how we protect marine biodiversity (marine protected areas), offshore renewable energy and how the ocean impacts climate change.

Dr Paul Connolly, CEO of the Marine Institute said, “Ireland and Portugal are on the frontiers of the Atlantic and given the importance of the ocean to our very existence, these discussions are critical. We have developed a strong working relationship with Portugal over the years and this State Visit builds on these strong ties and paves the way for more cooperation, particularly in relation to EU-funded projects on the Atlantic.”

In June of this year, the Marine Institute and the Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera (IPMA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), designed to build on their long-established cooperation and to build new partnerships, particularly in relation to strategic cooperation on Atlantic Ocean research.

The implementation of cooperation within the MoU's framework will include capacity building, training and exchange of expertise and staff, and developing strategic alliances to build research proposals. It also includes conducting joint research projects, and co-organisation of conferences, seminars and workshops. Team

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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.

Ireland's new multi-purpose marine research vessel RV Tom Crean, was delivered in July 2022 and will be used by the Marine Institute and other State agencies and universities to undertake fisheries research, oceanographic and environmental research, seabed mapping surveys; as well as maintaining and deploying weather buoys, observational infrastructure and Remotely Operated Vehicles.

The RV Tom Crean will also enable the Marine Institute to continue to lead and support high-quality scientific surveys that contribute to Ireland's position as a leader in marine science. The research vessel is a modern, multipurpose, silent vessel (designed to meet the stringent criteria of the ICES 209 noise standard for fisheries research), capable of operating in the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The Tom Crean is able to go to sea for at least 21 days at a time and is designed to operate in harsh sea conditions.

RV Tom Crean Specification Overview

  • Length Overall: 52.8 m
  • Beam 14m
  • Draft 5.2M 


  • Main Propulsion Motor 2000 kw
  • Bow Thruster 780 kw
  • Tunnel thruster 400 kw


  • Endurance  21 Days
  • Range of 8,000 nautical miles
  • DP1 Dynamic Positioning
  • Capacity for 3 x 20ft Containers

Irish Marine Research activities

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 (6t@ 10m, 3T@ 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