RV Tangaroa

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

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

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

RV Tangaroa, world-class research platform

Virtual tour

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
(1). 35 tonne A-frame, (2). 10-tonne A-frame, (3). cone penetration testing or seabed drilling equipment, (4). autonomous underwater vehicle, (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 vehicle.

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.

Tangaroa's Dynamic Positioning System - How does it work?

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 vessel

RV Tangaroa


NIWA Vessel Management Limited


New Zealand

Call sign


Port of registry



DNV – 1A1 (stern trawler/research vessel) + Ice 1C (light ice: ice floes up to 0.4 metres thick)

Year of construction

1991 – Mjellem & Karlsen Verft, Norway


70.0 metres


13.8 metres


7.0 metres


Steel displacement, ice-strengthened

Gross tonnage

2291 tonnes

Nett tonnage

687 tonnes

Cruising speed

10.5 knots

Main engines

Wartsila Vasa 8R 32D 4023 bhp (2,999 kW)

Shaft generator

Leroy Sommer 900 kVA

Main generators

2 x Cummins QSK60 1800 kW (1,440 kWe)

Harbour generator

Cummins 400 kVA


Wartsila Wichman PR 90/4

Bow thruster

Brunvoll 600 kW CPP

Stern thruster

Brunvoll 800 kW CPP

Retractable azimuth

Brunvoll 800 kW CPP

Freshwater capacity

40 cubic metres

Water maker

4-14 cubic metres per 24 hours (approx)

Fuel capacity

620 cubic metres


22 single berths with ensuite

9 double berths with ensuite


60 days

Rescue boat

Rigid bottom inflatable SOLAS

Work boat

5.8 metre Naiad inflatable SOLAS

Medical room

Hospital with basic medical facilities

Electronic equipment

Electrical supply

50 and 60 Hz

Dynamic positioning (DP) system

Kongsberg KPOS DP21

Joystick controller

Kongsberg c-Joy

Acoustic positioning system

Kongsberg HiPAP 500 USBL with 4750 hull unit


Kongsberg MST319N with float

Kongsberg MST432N


Sperry Marine Navigat X MK 1 (3)

Motion reference units

Kongsberg MRU-5

Kongsberg MRU-D

Kongsberg MRU-2


Seastar 9200 DGPS

Seastar 8200 DGPS

Leica MX420

Furuno GP31

Furuno GP150

Wind sensors

Gill Windobservor II Ultrasonic (2)


Robertson AP 9 MK3

Electro-magnetic log

Sperry Marine Naviknot 350E

Net monitors

Scanmar system Furuno CN22 Kaijo Denki


Sperry Marine Bridgemaster ARPA 183 S band radar

SAAB AIS system Koden MDC-1810P/1820 X band

Video plotter

Seaplot Pro

Graphic plotter

Epson Stylus 7800 A1 plotter

Echo sounders (ship)

Kongsberg Simrad EM 302 multi beam sounder, 30 kHz

Kongsberg Simrad EA 600 hydrographic sounder, 12 and 120 kHz

Kongsberg Simrad ES 60 fisheries sounder, 27 kHz

Kaijo Denki KMC 2000, 24 and 200 kHz

Simrad EK60 scientific sounder, 18, 38, 70, 120, and 200 kHz

Weather fax

Furuno Fax. 30

Meteorological station

Automatic weather station

Communication facilities

Cell phone Fax

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

Fleet 77 Voice Fax e-mail

008 707 646 32684 008 707 646 32685 [email protected]

Satcom system C e-mail

Thrane & Thrane 3020A [email protected]

Main radio

Furuno FS1562 – (GMDSS compliant)


Furuno FM8500 (x2) – (GMDSS compliant)

Watch receiver

Furuno AA50 – (GMDSS compliant)

Data system

Ifremer Techsas Underway Data Acquisition System & SDIV+ displays

Intercom system

Vingtor 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 winches

Each 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 winch

2,000-3,000 metres 6 mm wide

Deep ocean winch

10,000 metres, 16 mm cable, or up to 28 mm wire diameter, maximum pull 23 tonnes

CTD winch

8,000 metres, 10.5 mm cable, slip ring (12 analogue plus 2 optical channels) fitted.

Camera winch

2,000-3,000 metres, 15.1 mm cable, slip ring (12 analogue plus 2 optical channels) fitted.

Lifting equipment

2 Seacranes

Stern: Seacrane, 2 tonnes; bow (Palfinger), 2 tonnes

1 Seacrane

Midships (Effer) 15 tonnes


Starboard mounted. Lifting capacity 10 tonnes. Deck clearance 6 metres, width between legs 3.2 metres


Port mounted. Lifting capacity 8.5 tonnes. Deck clearance 6 metres, width between legs 11.2 metres


Stern mounted. Lifting capacity 1.5 tonnes.

Hydrographic sounders

Single-beam echo sounders

Simrad EK 500 (Scientific): 12, 27, 38 and 120 kHz Simrad EA 500 (Hydrographic): 12 and 120 kHz

Multi-beam echo sounders

SIMRAD EM300: 30 kHz

SIMRAD EM3002: 3000 kHz

Survey navigation systems

HydroPro and HydroMap

Motion compensation


Sound velocity calibration

Expendable 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)


Konsberg Simard EM 3002D multi beam sounder, 300 kHz

Reson SeaBat


Fugro SkyFix XP/HP systems, C-NAV

Side scan sonar

C-MAX CM2 side scan sonar

Subbottom profiler systems

3.5 kHz, Knudsen subbottom profiler

Geo Acoustics profiler boomer

Multi-channel seismic system

Geometrics GeoEel

48 channel, active section length 600 metres


Containerised Price SA35-W, 185 cuft/min, and containerised

Reavell 5436 75.8 cuft/min @ 2,000 psi

Airguns array

GI-guns: 210 to 710 cuinch


SeaSPY towed system

Gravity meter

LaCoste and Romberg


SeaBird911, 24 and 12 bottles, many sensors

Seabed sampling

Rock dredges and bottom corers

Sonobuoy system

Sparton AN/SSQ-53

Sound velocity calibration

Expendable bathythermographs (XBTs)

Digibar DB-1100

AML SVPlus sound velocity profiler

Tide measurements

Current, level, etc meters

The information provided on this webpage is for general informational purposes only and may be subject to change. For detailed specifications and additional information, please contact us directly.

RV Tangaroa: New Zealand’s world-class research vessel