Research Vessel Tangaroa

RV Tangaroa is New Zealand’s only ice strengthened and dynamically positioned deep-water research vessel.

Equipped for ocean science, exploration and marine engineering, the research vessel Tangaroa provides a sophisticated environmental survey and ocean science platform throughout the South Pacific, Southern Ocean and Antarctica.

R V Tangaroa virtual tour

RV Tangaroa, world-class research platform

What's onboard?

Key features

  1. 35 Tonne a-frame
  2. 10 Tonne a-frame
  3. Cone Penetration testing or seabed drilling equipment
  4. Autonomous underwater vehicles
  5. Underwater cameras
  6. 800 kW stern thruster
  7. 3000 kW main propulsion
  8. Satellite positioning
  9. 600 kW bow thruster
  10. 800 kw retractable azimuth
  11. Dive support
  12. HiPAP 500
  13. Seabed transponder
  14. Remotely-operated vehicles

DP2 – dynamic position system

RV Tangaroa is the only New Zealand vessel equipped with Dynamic Positioning (DP2). It can remain stationary or track a precise path, even in the often challenging Southern Ocean environment. This makes it a valuable asset to help advance ocean science and exploration in New Zealand and around the world.

RV Tangaroa’s hull-mounted multibeam echosounder and sub-bottom profiler

RV Tangaroa’s multibeam echosounder can survey the seabed to hydrographic quality. The sub-bottom profiler can produce high-resolution imagery of the geology up to 200m below the seabed.

Watch this video to see how Tangaroa's multibeam system is used for bathymetric (seabed) mapping:

Echo, Echo: Scanning the Seafloor on R.V. Tangaroa

Further specifications and features

The vessel is equipped with a range of modern and sophisticated equipment enabling sampling and measurements to be taken from the sea surface, through the water column to the seabed and below. Download pdf of Tangaroa's specifications.

Key details

Name of vesselRV Tangaroa
OwnerNIWA Vessel Management Limited
FlagNew Zealand
Call signZMFR
Port of registryWellington
ClassificationDNV – 1A1 (stern trawler/research vessel) + Ice 1C (light ice: ice floes up to 0.4 metres thick)
Year of construction1991 – Mjellem & Karlsen Verft, Norway
Length70.0 metres
Beam13.8 metres
Draft7.0 metres
HullSteel displacement, ice-strengthened
Gross tonnage2291 tonnes
Nett tonnage687 tonnes
Cruising speed10.5 knots
Main enginesWartsila Vasa 8R 32D 4023 bhp (2,999 kW)
Shaft generatorLeroy Sommer 900 kVA
Main generators2 x Cummins QSK60 1800 kW (1,440 kWe)
Harbour generatorCummins 400 kVA
PropellerWartsila Wichman PR 90/4
Bow thrusterBrunvoll 600 kW CPP
Stern thrusterBrunvoll 800 kW CPP
Retractable azimuthBrunvoll 800 kW CPP
Freshwater capacity40 cubic metres
Water maker4-14 cubic metres per 24 hours (approx)
Fuel capacity620 cubic metres
Accommodation22 single berths with ensuite9 double berths with ensuite
Endurance60 days
Rescue boatRigid bottom inflatable SOLAS
Work boat5.8 metre Naiad inflatable SOLAS
Medical roomHospital with basic medical facilities

Electronic equipment

Electrical supply50 and 60 Hz
Dynamic positioning (DP) systemKongsberg KPOS DP21
Joystick controllerKongsberg c-Joy
Acoustic positioning systemKongsberg HiPAP 500 USBL with 4750 hull unit
TranspondersKongsberg MST319N with floatKongsberg MST432N
GyroSperry Marine Navigat X MK 1 (3)
Motion reference unitsKongsberg MRU-5Kongsberg MRU-DKongsberg MRU-2
GPSSeastar 9200 DGPSSeastar 8200 DGPSLeica MX420Furuno GP31Furuno GP150
Wind sensorsGill Windobservor II Ultrasonic (2)
AutopilotRobertson AP 9 MK3
Electro-magnetic logSperry Marine Naviknot 350E
Net monitorsScanmar system
Furuno CN22
Kaijo Denki
RadarsSperry Marine Bridgemaster ARPA 183 S band radarSAAB AIS system
Koden MDC-1810P/1820 X band
Video plotterSeaplot Pro
Graphic plotterEpson Stylus 7800 A1 plotter
Echo sounders (ship)Kongsberg Simrad EM 302 multi beam sounder, 30 kHzKongsberg Simrad EA 600 hydrographic sounder, 12 and 120 kHzKongsberg Simrad ES 60 fisheries sounder, 27 kHzKaijo Denki KMC 2000, 24 and 200 kHzSimrad EK60 scientific sounder, 18, 38, 70, 120, and 200 kHz
Weather faxFuruno Fax. 30
Meteorological stationAutomatic weather station

Communication facilities

Cell phone
+64 27 442 7510 – Bridge, when in range of the Telecom NZ network
+64 27 236 4966
Fleet 77

008 707 646 32684
008 707 646 32685
[email protected]
Satcom system C e-mailThrane & Thrane 3020A
[email protected]
Main radioFuruno FS1562 – (GMDSS compliant)
VHFFuruno FM8500 (x2) – (GMDSS compliant)
Watch receiverFuruno AA50 – (GMDSS compliant)
Data systemIfremer Techsas Underway Data Acquisition System & SDIV+ displays
Intercom systemVingtor KCN 300

Winching equipment

Main trawl/Net winches

All the permanent winches are supplied by Rolls-Royce (Hydraulic Brattvagg).

2 Main trawl winches – 2,500 to 4,000 metres, 28mm 6x19 wire rope, self tensioning
2 Gilson winches
4 Sweepline winches
1 Outhaul winch
1 Codend winch
1 windlass
2 Net drum winches

Scientific winches

2 Acoustic winchesEach can hold 1,200 metres, 12.5 mm faired cable or 2,000 metres, 12.5 mm faired, slip ring (12 analogue plus 2 optical channels) fitted
Hydrology winch2,000-3,000 metres 6 mm wide
Deep ocean winch10,000 metres, 16 mm cable, or up to 28 mm wire diameter, maximum pull 23 tonnes
CTD winch8,000 metres, 10.5 mm cable, slip ring (12 analogue plus 2 optical channels) fitted.
Camera winch2,000-3,000 metres, 15.1 mm cable, slip ring (12 analogue plus 2 optical channels) fitted.

Lifting equipment

2 SeacranesStern: Seacrane, 2 tonnes; bow (Palfinger), 2 tonnes
1 SeacraneMidships (Effer) 15 tonnes
A-FrameStarboard mounted. Lifting capacity 10 tonnes. Deck clearance 6 metres, width between legs 3.2 metres
A-FramePort mounted. Lifting capacity 8.5 tonnes. Deck clearance 6 metres, width between legs 11.2 metres
J-FrameStern mounted. Lifting capacity 1.5 tonnes.

Hydrographic sounders

Single-beam echo soundersSimrad EK 500 (Scientific): 12, 27, 38 and 120 kHz
Simrad EA 500 (Hydrographic): 12 and 120 kHz
Multi-beam echo soundersSIMRAD EM300: 30 kHzSIMRAD EM3002: 3000 kHz
Survey navigation systemsHydroPro and HydroMap
Motion compensationTSS DMS
TSS POSMV system
Sound velocity calibrationExpendable Bathythermographs (XBTs)
Digibar DB-1100
AML SVplus sound velocity profiler

Automatic weather station

Tangaroa carries sensors for wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, relative humidity and air temperature and solar radiation, sea-surface temperature, while other sensors can be provided as requested.

Scientific work areas and laboratories

CTD enclosure

The CTD (conductivity-temperature-depth) profilers are deployed through the mid-ships starboard A-frame. When it is recovered, the CTD profiler is then housed in the CTD-enclosure, which is connected to the hydro/dry-laboratory.

Wet laboratories

Tangaroa has excellent facilities for the sorting, preserving, processing, and storage of fish, plankton, and other biological material. These include several purpose-built wet laboratories. Two laboratories are on the starboard side on the main trawl deck; one commonly used as a CTD-laboratory or as a wet hydro-lab (5.7 m x 1.5 m), the other a plankton lab (4.7 m x 1.7 m). A sizable temperature-controlled wet laboratory (3.4 m x 3.0 m) is also provided on the starboard side of the trawl deck. All laboratories have workbenches, cold and warm running water, and ample space for storage of containers and equipment.

Fish sorting and processing

The trawl is emptied onto the deck and the fish stored through hatches in three receiving bins (total capacity: 75 m3), where they are kept fresh by a refrigerated salt water re-circulation system. Upon removal from a receiving bin, the fish is sorted semi-automatically by hand, with the selected specimen kept in smaller holding tanks for further scientific study. The remaining fish are processed in the fish factory, which can process up to 16 tonnes of fish per day. The freezer hold has a capacity of 350 tonnes of processed fish product.

Three laboratories are available on the fish-processing deck. The main wet laboratory (6.2 m x 7.1 m) contains large weighing and dissecting tables and is used for all major fish studies. Two more laboratories are available - one wet laboratory (4.2 m x 3.2 m) and one dry laboratory (3.5 x 3.2 m).

A medium-sized scientific freezer, adjacent to the main wet laboratory, is designed to remain at a constant temperature between –30 and +5°C.

Dry laboratories and computer areas/rooms

Tangaroa has five dedicated dry laboratories/computer areas. There is a large computer area (6.5 m x 4.1 m) on the bridge, from which voyage leaders, lead scientists, and support staff can direct all scientific operations and process the main data.

One hydro/dry laboratory (6.0 m x 3.2 m) is available on the trawl deck, while one terminal room (4.5 m x 4.5 m) is provided on the main deck. The main computer/EM300 control room (4.5 m x 5.7 m) and the electronics laboratory (4.5 m x 6.0 m) are housed below the main deck.

Dark room

The vessel’s dark room (5.5 m x 2.5 m) is situated on the trawl deck.

Radioisotope laboratory

The chemical preparation and storage laboratory can be used as a radioisotope laboratory (3.2 m x 2.8 m). It is located on the trawl deck, and is provided with benches and fume cabinet.

Temperature-controlled laboratory

The port wet lab, on the trawl deck, can maintain a controlled temperature between –5 °C and +5 °C (with an accuracy of plus/minus 1.0 °C).

Container laboratories

Tangaroa can carry up to three six metre container laboratories on the trawl deck.

Emergency survival container

Tangaroa is also fitted with a six metre emergency survival container. This container is designed to provide all basic survival facilities and food for the entire vessel’s complement, should the vessel experience a total ‘black-out’, i.e., no engine power.

Communal areas

Tangaroa has a range of communal spaces available, including:

  • Mess room
  • Three lounges with television and video facilities (one is a smoking lounge)
  • Conference room (6.7 m x 3.2 m) that seats 14 personnel
  • Ship’s office (3.1 m x 3.2 m)
  • Fitness centre
  • Japanese bath
  • Sauna

Scientific sea water supply

The vessel has a built-in sea water pumping system with the capacity to pump approximately 30 m3 of water per hour for scientific purposes.

Additional equipment (mobilised as required)

EchosoundersKonsberg Simard EM 3002D multi beam sounder, 300 kHzReson SeaBat
PositioningFugro SkyFix XP/HP systems, C-NAV
Side scan sonarC-MAX CM2 side scan sonar
Subbottom profiler systems3.5 kHz, Knudsen subbottom profilerGeo Acoustics profiler boomer
Multi-channel seismic systemGeometrics GeoEel48 channel, active section length 600 metres
CompressorsContainerised Price SA35-W, 185 cuft/min, and containerisedReavell 5436 75.8 cuft/min @ 2,000 psi
Airguns arrayGI-guns: 210 to 710 cuinch
MagnetometerSeaSPY towed system
Gravity meterLaCoste and Romberg
CTD-systemsSeaBird911, 24 and 12 bottles, many sensors
Seabed samplingRock dredges and bottom corers
Sonobuoy systemSparton AN/SSQ-53
Sound velocity calibrationExpendable bathythermographs (XBTs)Digibar DB-1100AML SVPlus sound velocity profiler
Tide measurementsCurrent, level, etc meters