A research vessel for all seasons

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New Zealand’s only ice-strengthened research vessel is nothing if not versatile.

Tangaroa in Antarctica’s Western Ross Sea. NIWA Vessel Management’s purpose-built hydrographic survey launch, Pelorus, in the foreground, can be carried and launched from Tangaroa.

The 70-metre long Tangaroa, which is owned and operated by NIWA Vessel Management Ltd, spent much of October undertaking resource mapping along the Kermadec Arc as a joint scientific study with the Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences. The vessel sailed north almost to Tonga to investigate mineral-laden plumes from submarine volcanoes. During this expedition, scientists on board used Tangaroa’s EM 300 multibeam echosounder to discover and map several new volcanoes, including the massive Monowai caldera.

While the subtropical waters got a bit choppy on occasion, Tangaroa encountered much more severe weather during its most recent Antarctic voyage, from January to March this year. The crew and international research team, led by NIWA, faced winds gusting up to 95 knots and swells approaching 12 metres. It was Tangaroa’s fifth voyage to the frozen continent. While there, the scientists conducted a hydrographic survey of shipping lanes, and associated areas, in the northwestern Ross Sea for Land Information New Zealand, and a biodiversity study for the Ministry of Fisheries, in conjunction with the Italian Antarctic Research Programme.

Research subject: Coasts