The construction of Australia’s new Marine National Facility research vessel Investigator now has over 800 tonnes of steel in place.

The ship is being erected on a wharf at the Sembawang Shipyard in Singapore, under the management of Teekay Australia, which was awarded the contract for the commissioning and construction of Investigator.

The Executive Director of the Future Research Vessel Project, Toni Moate said the addition of two blocks to the hull of the ship saw Investigator hit the 800 tonne mark.

“The ship is being constructed in blocks with the hull blocks each weighing over 100 tonnes, and to date nine blocks have been welded together,” Ms Moate said.

Once each block is assembled in the shed, it’s loaded onto a large, slow moving flatbed truck and first taken off for a high pressure wash, then into the paint shed, where it’s coated inside and out. Next it’s taken to the RV Investigator Erection Area, where cranes lift each section into place and it’s welded together.

“We’ve also just fitted the three main engines into the hull, which now means sections of the superstructure can start to be added, which includes space for laboratories, cabins and the bridge.”

Back in Australia the Future Research Vessel Project Team is hard at work finalising the process for the purchase of scientific equipment for Investigator.

“We expect to be able to go out to market for the purchase of around AUD$6 million worth of scientific equipment shortly, which will be a good opportunity for local suppliers,” Ms Moate said.

The list of equipment is long and includes things like a very large weather radar, instruments for deep sediment coring and a trace metal clean container, to name just a few items.

Details of the full list of scientific equipment for Investigator will be posted on this blog in coming weeks.

It was in 2009 the Australian Government committed AU$120 million to the purchase of a new research vessel for Australia’s Marine National Facility. The project is an initiative of the Australian Government being conducted as part of the Super Science Initiative and financed from the Education Investment Fund.