It is almost a year late but the CSIRO's new research vessel, the RV Investigator, has steamed up the River Derwent into its new home in Hobart this morning.

The 94-metre ship took two weeks to make the journey from Singapore, where it was built.

It replaces the Southern Surveyor, which was sold by the Federal Government, and has been welcomed by scientists, engineers and the families of those on board.

The ship was expected to cost $120 million, but with the delay it eventually cost $126 million.

Scientists hope the vessel will revolutionise marine science.


The ship will be able to take scientists out for longer and refuel less frequently than the previous research vessel.

The vessel will now be fitted with about $7 million of research equipment which will be used to collect data on ocean currents, salinity and temperature. It can take a maximum of 40 researchers out to sea at a time and only has to refuel every two months.

Scientists are hoping to get a better picture of the ocean and even discover new life.

Research scientist Bernadette Sloyan said the new arrival was a big improvement on the last ship, the Southern Surveyor."It's a magnitude step, it's huge. On the old Surveyor, it was an old ship, it was really noisy, but it only carried 12 scientists," she said. "This ship will carry 40, we can make big campaigns. The old ship [allowed] 25 days at sea; this ship will go out for 60. "We can cross the Pacific,    we can cross the Indian Ocean in this vessel, which we could never do before."

With the ship now in its new home in Tasmania it is due to start research work next year.

After the CSIRO took possession of the ship last month, Sam Popovski from the the CSIRO's Staff Association said the arrival would be a bittersweet moment.
"We have got another approximately 60 jobs going from the CSIRO in Hobart, so even though CSIRO has committed to using the new vessel, it is not using it to capacity and there is a reduced amount of staff in Hobart that are able to access it to do their research," he said. "We've got an exciting new ship with all this capacity yet we've been scrambling to find the funds from government and other sources to actually run it when it gets here. "I think the disappointment from staff's perspective is the lack of operational funding and the need for stopgap funding to just actually work the ship, and that's been the downside of this whole story."

The state-of-the-art ship is expected to revolutionise Australia's marine science capabilities.

Investigator's predecessor, Southern Surveyor, could only sail to 50 degrees south. While not an icebreaker, Investigator can go right to the Antarctic ice edge.

A 1.7 tonne radar will enable scientists to source long range weather data, while other equipment will allow them to explore up to six kilometres below the surface.

The ship can accommodate up to 40 scientists studying at sea at once on voyages lasting several months.

The 66-metre Southern Surveyor was originally a fishing boat, unlike its custom-built replacement, and could only accommodate 15 scientists.

It was sold in December for $270,000 to an Indian company which wanted to use it as a piracy guard vessel off Africa.

Ship's name connected to early Australian history
The ship's name pays homage to the first ship to circumnavigate Australia. The HMS Investigator completed the navigation between 1801 and 1803 under the command of explorer Matthew Flinders.

Adelaide maritime historian Bob Sexton said the HMS Investigator started life in England as a coal ship known as Xenophon. The ship was only 33 metres long unlike its 94-metre namesake, but had a large carrying capacity. "It had a flat bottom which meant had it been in muddy conditions, it could have sat on the bottom safely," he said. "Speed wasn't a consideration, but ... you had to carry water and provisions for a large compliment of men to say nothing of armament in case you met up with the dreaded French."

It was believed the HMS Investigator was broken up in 1810, but Mr Sexton said it was in fact sold and made voyages to Canada before arriving in Geelong in 1853. "When it was sold out of the service it reverted to the name Xenophon no-one thought to look at Lloyd's register...and it continued to sail."

The original Investigator was was finally broken up in 1872.