A research vessel is a vessel constructed for the purpose of conducting scientific studies at sea. Most research vessels are owned by educational institutions or governmental bodies. The nature of scientific research requires that these vessels be able to take on various roles at different times. Newer vessels are taking advantage of containerized laboratories in order to increase the modularity of the design.
Research vessels will be capable of one or multiple roles, depending on outfit:
These are vessels designed to research into various aspects of ocean science such as currents, densities, salinities, temperatures and chemical composition. Vessels are therefore required to have the ability to collect water samples at various depths (see CTD), as well as the ability to analyze the samples once aboard. They will have lab facilities for the preservation of samples, accommodations for scientists and passengers, ability to tow sensor packages, as well as onboard environmental monitoring & sensor systems.
Vessels used to research new methods of fishing and to improve existing technology. Vessels will be designed similar to a fishing vessel, however large holds will be replaced with wet and dry labs.
These vessels are involved in the study of the sea floor and its underlying geology. These vessel are used to create navigational charts as well as by offshore companies in the search for hydrocarbons. They are liable to be fitted with advanced DP, GPS, and sonar systems.
Research vessels are designed to provide the most flexible platform from which to gather high-quality scientific data. Particular care is given to ensuring collected data is not contaminated by the vessel itself, and for the efficient and effective integration of scientific systems.