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 the Australian Institute of Marine Science’s 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.

Step onboard RV Solander in a 360 tour!

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. 

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 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”.

Download the latest IMS Risk Assessment here


Owner Australian Institute of Marine Science

Builder Tenix Defence, Henderson, WA

Year built 2007

Hull Steel

Classification ABS A1 AMS

Length (oa) 34.9 metres

Beam 8.6 metres

Draft 2.8 metres

Displacement 415 tonnes

Service speed 11 knots

Range 2,700 nautical miles

Complement 18 people

Endurance 21 days

Main Machinery

Main engines
2 x Cummins KTA19 M3

Auxiliary engines
2 x Cummins 6C-CP

2 x controllable pitch propellers

Bow thruster
Keypower KP22

Navigation Equipment

Radars 2 x Furuno 1964C-BB

Sounder Furuno ETR-30N

Sonar Furuno CH 250

GPS Furuno GP-37

POS POS MV OceanMaster

Communication Equipment

Satellite communication Inmarsat C, Fleet 77, Fleet 33

Mobile phone 3G – voice, fax, data and e-mail

Computing Facilities
On-board server, LAN and wireless networks

Deck Equipment

Work winch
4 tonne capacity

8 tonne capacity

Hydrographic winch
350 kilogram capacity

CTD winch
Livewire - carousel

Deck crane
Palfinger PKM 120

2 x 2 tonne

Auxillary vessels
2 x 5.5m and 1 x 4.6m Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBs)

Dive compressor
Bauer KAP 150 with Nuvair LP 560 providing Nitrox

Laboratory Equipment

Moon pool
600 mm x 600 mm

Fume hood
Dynaflow 1000

Lab and Deck Space

Dry lab area
Approx 20.6 m²

Wet lab area
Approx 12.5 m²

Scientific freezer
Approx 6.5 m³

Scientific office
Approx 9.4 m²

Back deck area
Approx 70 m² (provision for half shipping container)