Offshore survey and research vessels are generally equipped with the kinds of devices necessary to carry out the particular type of work they will do. For instance, a research vessel doing hydrographic work will develop navigational charts for use by ocean-going vessels and smaller craft alike, with the intent being to provide as much information about a specific section of the ocean as possible.

In some cases, these kinds of vessels are also outfitted with equipment which can detect the presence of oil or gas beneath the ocean floor, and that will make it possible to determine whether or not extraction is feasible. A depth sounder might be one of the important pieces of equipment found on such research vessels, although it is by no means the only important piece of equipment on board. Below you’ll find a description of the facilities and equipment typically carried by offshore survey vessels.

Vessel equipment

For starters, safety equipment is a must on research vessels, because anything and everything can happen to a vessel at sea, so it is best to be prepared. A life raft capable of accommodating every person on board must be included, as well as fire extinguishers, life rings, survival suits, firefighting hoses, life vests, and a flare kit which can be seen from 50 miles away at sea. For purposes of pinpointing the ship’s position if some kind of emergency should arise, it is also necessary to include an Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB).

A high-capacity deck-mounted winch is needed to onload and offload heavy equipment used by researchers, as well as at least one or two heavy-duty generators which can serve as a standby power source. A PC plotter with offshore navigation software will be essential, as will some type of radar equipment so that approaching objects can be identified. A GPS Navigator will be necessary for ocean-going navigation, and VHF radios will provide constant contact with on-shore contacts and support personnel. An Advanced Identification System (AIS) is another important piece of equipment used by research vessels, and this is mandated for vessels of a certain size and length, so as to ensure maritime safety. 

Vessel facilities 

It will always be necessary to have a galley on a research vessel, because the vessels will generally be at sea for an extended period of time, and that means all personnel will have to be fed. Food will have to be prepared on board, so the galley must be equipped with all devices necessary for food and beverage preparation, and there will have to be an area like a small dining room where crew and researchers can sit down and enjoy their meal.

It will also be necessary to have a sleeping area for both the crew and the members of the research team, so that they can get sufficient sleep and be effective in carrying out their daily tasks. Although some personnel may opt to bypass certain aspects of daily hygiene, some kind of showers or cleaning facilities must also be included.

Heating and air conditioning may not be absolutely essential, but they are a very nice inclusion on longer trips, especially when these take place during winter time and the outside temperature is fairly cold. Finally, to provide some measure of comfort for research team members, it is normal to provide some form of entertainment in their quarters, perhaps music, videos, or television which can be enjoyed during off hours.

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