Australia receives research vessel with Thrustmaster retractable combi tunnel thruster

(HOUSTON) — The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), an agency of the federal government of Australia, recently took delivery of their flagship research vessel Investigator equipped with a Thrustmaster TH1500MLR 1,500 hp (1,250 kW) retractable combi tunnel thruster.

Measuring 93.9 meters in length on an 18.5-metre beam, the RV Investigator is an Australian marine research vessel which was designed by RALion — joint venture between Robert Allan Ltd. and Alion Science and Technology. It was constructed in Singapore  with its operations funded by the Australian government to undertake oceanographic, geoscience, ecosystem and fisheries research.

Thrustmaster electric retractable thrusters are fixed-pitch propeller through-hull azimuth thrusters capable of retracting completely into the hull where they can then act as a typical tunnel thruster. Retractable tunnel thrusters inherit all the benefits of a typical tunnel thruster application such as docking, slow speed maneuvering, emergency steering and station keeping at zero or slow forward speed with the added ability of extending down past the bottom of the vessel to assist in controlled, azimuth propulsion maneuvering.

Retractable tunnel thrusters are easily installed transversely in the bow or the stern of a vessel and include a section of the vessel’s hull when in the retracted position. Retracting the tunnel thruster is as simple as clicking a single button that will cause the tunnel thruster to automatically correct its positioning before retracting back into the vessel. Sizes range from 250 to 10,750 hp (185 kW to 8 MW) with a wide selection of reduction ratios and propeller/nozzle diameters to suit the application requirements. They are normally supplied complete with electric motors and variable frequency drives, but they can also be made to fit flange and shaft end of a customer supplied or shipyard supplied electric motor. The motor travels up and down with the thruster, so the drive line is never disconnected.

Designed to be one of the quiestest and most capable non-naval research vessels in the world, the Investigator will preform scientific operations throughout the entire southern hemisphere, spanning a range of over 10,000 nautical miles. It's able to accommodate up to 40 scientists, go to sea for up to 60 days at a time and spend up to 300 days of the year at sea on research voyages. Special features of the ship are a "gondola," similar to a winged keel, mounted 1.5 meters below the hull, and two drop keels, to carry scientific instruments below the layer of microbubbles created by the movement of the ship’s hull through the water. Such instrumentation includes acoustic mappers and a pelagic sediment profiler to produce maps of the sea floor. The hull and the machinery of the ship have been designed to operate as quietly as possible to enhance its scientific capabilities.

Classed to Lloyd's Register, the ice-capable vessel has also been designed to meet the underwater radiated noise requestments of the DNC "Silent R" notation up to a speed of 11 knots — a capability that enables her to undertake the most sensitive types of environmental research.

In May 2009, the Australian government allocated $120 million for a new oceangoing research vessel to replace the 1972 built R/V Southern Surveyor, which has served as the principal research ship for Australia’s Marine National Facility since 1988. R/V Investigator arrived at its home port of Hobart on Sept. 9.

By Professional Mariner Staff