blue and white research vessel on water with orange dirt cliff behind

RV Solander

A platform for exploring Australia’s tropical marine estate

The research vessel RV Solander is the flagship of AIMS' field research program. The 34.9m vessel is a floating laboratory for marine scientists to carry out research in Australia’s remote tropical waters for up to 270 sea days a year, travelling as much as 25,000 nautical miles (46,000km).

RV Solander enables researchers to develop a comprehensive understanding of tropical marine biodiversity, oceanography and ecosystem functions across Australia’s north.

The Solander is one of AIMS’ two coastal research vessels – the only ships dedicated to marine research across Australia’s tropical waters between the coast and the edge of the continental shelf.


In 2022, the RV Solander helped AIMS celebrate its 50th anniversary with a new hull design. Image: James Gilmour

Covering Australia’s tropical marine estate

The Solander’s ocean-going capabilities provide AIMS with access to remote sites across Australia’s tropical north. In any year the Solander steams to locations at Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia, across the Top End, and down to the southern Great Barrier Reef.

Researchers often work with the Traditional Owners of the Sea Country areas, using a two-way learning approach to foster meaningful exchanges of science knowledge and local capacity-building initiatives.


RV Solander working off the Top End of Australia

State-of-the-art technology

The Solander deploys advanced technology such as a state-of-the-art multibeam echosounder, to produce 3D maps of large areas of Australia’s uncharted seabed. It’s on-board research capabilities enable AIMS scientists to:

  • monitor and assess corals and marine life in ecologically critical locations
  • map the seabed and ocean currents
  • study coral resilience
  • develop reef adaptation and restoration techniques and more.


The RV Solander prepares for fieldwork in Darwin.

The Solander has a range of 2,700 nautical miles, and conducts about 26 research cruises a year, each lasting between 7 and 21 days. The vessel can accommodate 12 scientists and is crewed by a team experienced in scientific support.

Equipped with a suite of research facilities, including laboratories and deck equipment for deploying high tech instruments, the Solander undertakes the science necessary to protect Australia’s tropical oceans and support the sustainability of marine industries underpinning our “Blue Economy”.

Step onboard RV Solander in a 360o tour