AIMS sails into first Australia-NZ research ship collaboration

11 May 2018

The AIMS RV Solander and RV Cape Ferguson

Australian and New Zealand scientific research organisations have established the first formal collaboration aimed at promoting the safe, efficient and environmentally responsible operation of their research ships.

The agreement means members of the Australian Institute of Marine Science’s research vessels RV Solander and RV Cape Ferguson will now exchange technical operational skills with CSIRO’s Investigator, the Aurora Australis and New Zealand vessels Tangaroa and Kaharoa.

AIMS engineering and field operations manager Gary Brinkman said it was a positive step which would enhance safety and technical skills sharing between research vessels.

Mr Brinkman said AIMS’ two research vessels travelled up to 40,000 nautical miles per year, working between the southern Great Barrier Reef, to the Northern Territory and the tropical waters of Western Australia, and were each at sea around 250 days a year.

“Operationally, this agreement allows us to work with other research vessels to get a better picture of how similar operators manage their vessels, and we can take on the lessons of how they do it,” Mr Brinkman said.

The group entitled `Research Vessels Of New Zealand and Australia’ (RVONZA) has been spearheaded by New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.

The New Zealand Institute’s manager of marine resources, Rob Christie said representatives from NIWA, CSIRO, the Australian Antarctic Division, Australian Institute of Marine Science, and the Australian Maritime College, were the first members of the collaboration.

Mr Christie said jointly the organisations managed more than $1 billion of marine assets and equipment, to carry out scientific research in the Southern Hemisphere.

He said the group discussed and agreed on a number of joint initiatives, including enabling technicians to take part in research voyages across each other's organisations.

"Our technicians have highly specialised skills and this is a great way to share our expertise, enable professional development as well as develop new ideas and innovation," Mr Christie said.

The group has also agreed to look at the possibility of sharing equipment and vessels and will use their collective expertise to ensure the best practice for design, management and operation of research ships.

"The formation of RVONZA means we can now work together in a much more coordinated way sharing valuable lessons on the vessels design, build and operation or research vessels " Mr Christie said.

The collaboration comes at a time when the Australian Antarctic Divison is building a new AU$500m icebreaking research ship called Nuyina, and NIWA has begun the process of replacing its mid fleet vessel Kaharoa.