Ireland’s new marine research vessel is ready to set sail

6 Oct 2022

The RV Tom Crean. Image: Marine Institute

The RV Tom Crean, named after the famous Irish explorer, will be operational at sea for 300 days a year to conduct research activities in the Atlantic.

Ireland’s new state-of-the-art research vessel, the RV Tom Crean, is now ready to sail the Atlantic Ocean.

The vessel will be based in Galway and will enable Ireland’s Marine Institute to carry out a variety of vital research activities.

The research vessel was commissioned at a special event in Kerry’s Dingle Harbour today (6 October) by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue, TD.

“I don’t need to remind anyone here today that Ireland’s oceans are vital to our economy, our environment and many aspects of our daily lives,” McConalogue said.

The RV Tom Crean’s research activities will include expanded fisheries surveys, research related to the climate crisis, offshore renewable energy, environmental monitoring, seabed mapping and marine spatial planning.

The state-of-the-art vessel was designed by Norwegian ship design consultants Skipsteknisk and built in the Astilleros Armon shipyard in Spain.

The 52.8-metre long vessel will replace the 31-metre RV Celtic Voyager and will be operational at sea for 300 days a year. It is a silent vessel, which means it makes less underwater noise than traditional vessels to reduce its impact on fish populations when surveying and sampling.

The RV Tom Crean will be capable of operating throughout the Irish exclusive economic zone and will go to sea for at least 21 days at a time – even in harsh conditions. It will be used by the Marine Institute, other State agencies and universities, and aims to accommodate around 3,000 scientist days annually.

The research vessel was named after the Irish seaman and explorer Tom Crean, who undertook three major expeditions to the Antarctic in the early 1900s. The Kerry native won the Albert Medal for Lifesaving in 1913 after he walked 56km across Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf to save the life of a fellow explorer.

Marine Institute CEO Dr Paul Connolly said the name of the new vessel gives “recognition to an Irish explorer of international renown” who had a life full of “bravery, determination and courage”.

“The institute appreciates the support of the descendants of Tom Crean in this decision,” Connolly said.

“Our new multi-purpose research vessel will enhance Ireland’s capacity to undertake international collaborative research to acquire the ocean data and knowledge essential to managing our vast marine resources.”

The Marine Institute is the State agency is responsible for marine research, technology development and innovation in Ireland.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic