Work has begun on RV Investigator’s amazing drop keels.

Drop keels under construction

A few months ago CSIRO’s ECOS Magazine published an article about the scientific capabilities of RV Investigator. It’s a great read as it describes the drop keel design and capabilities.

It was written by Dr Brian Griffiths, who is a member of the Future Research Vessel Project Team, and Michele Sabto from ECOS Magazine. Here is the description of the drop keels in that article.

Port drop keel from Draft General ArrangementInvestigator in bow view with drop keels deployed from Draft General ArrangementDrop keels

Another unique feature of this vessel is a couple of drop keels that contain an array of scientific instruments.

The keels are about 1.3 metres wide by about 3.6 metres long – the scale of an aircraft wing – and are kept inside a tube in the ship.

They can be lowered down to about 4 metres below the hull, putting the acoustic equipment inside them well below the bubble zone as the vessel goes through the water.

Seawater inlets on the keel undersides allow scientists to collect uncontaminated seawater samples.

Other instruments mounted in, or on, the keels can: measure the speed, direction and depth of currents – understanding current speed and direction is key to understanding the transport of heat in oceans indicate fish abundance and size detect fish schools and individual fish, giving location and depth relative to the vessel as it moves through the water measure the velocity of sound in water – sound velocity affects depth calculations measure the width and height of scientific trawl net carried behind RV Investigator – the net can fish at 4 kilometres depth and 6 kilometres behind the ship.

Knowing how the size of the net mouth opening changes it moves through the water helps calculate abundance estimates for trawl catches, and improves understanding of the general behaviour of trawl nets provide data on the position of instruments towed by or moored to the ship, increasing the spatial accuracy and precision of measurements.

  • Investigator in stabbord profile with drop keels deployed from Draft General Arrangement

The original article can be found here