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Farewell to the RV Lady Basten

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21 September 2007

The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) will retire its major research vessel, the RV Lady Basten , today as she closes in on the end of the normal 0 year working life for a steel vessel and its machinery.

Launched in November 178, the 27m RV Lady Basten was designed to operate in the shallow waters of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) providing a stable platform to investigate the physical, chemical and biological environments of coastal waters, the reef and adjacent ocean. As the workhorse of the Institute's fleet, she ended up allowing AIMS scientists and visitors to reach all tropical coastal habitats between Fraser Island and Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia, and most parts of the ocean bounded by Timor, the north coast of Papua New Guinea, and New Caledonia.

During her life with AIMS, RV Lady Basten spent 7,500 days at sea and steamed almost a million kilometres, equivalent to more than 24 times around the Earth's equator or more than 2 times around mainland Australia.

Research carried out from the RV Lady Basten ranged from remote area diving on coral reefs, to exploration of the seafloor with cameras, robots and autonomous underwater vehicles, to coring of seabed sediments and corals to recreate the marine climate history of northern Australia.

AIMS Research Director, Dr Peter Doherty, said "Basten's greatest test was mapping 210,000 square kilometres of seabed biodiversity in the Great Barrier Reef in just 120 days, which was done by operating 24/7 for weeks at a time with a combined science and vessel crew of just 14 persons". These results are being used by the reef managers to assess the performance of the new zoning plan for the Marine Park and to assess the sustainability of fisheries in the World Heritage Area. Dr Doherty said that "AIMS is proud to have been part of this massive project which required the combined resources of four research agencies and remains one of the largest detailed marine mapping projects in the world".

RV Lady Basten also broke new ground on her last cruise by deploying the first of a series of oceanographic moorings and current meters that will become the backbone for a long-term Great Barrier Reef Ocean Observing System, which will monitor the impact of a changing ocean upon the regional marine climate and performance of marine ecosystems throughout Queensland. This network is part of a recent $55 million initiative by the Commonwealth Government to create an Integrated Marine Observing System for Australia equivalent to terrestrial weather forecasting with the Great Barrier Reef node receiving an additional $5 million from the Queensland Smart State Fund.

The RV Lady Basten will be replaced by a 5m steel monohull based upon the proven design of AIMS other vessel, the RV Cape Ferguson . To be named the RV Solander , the newest and largest addition to the AIMS research fleet is currently undergoing trials off Fremantle in Western Australia.

Media contacts:

Peter Doherty ,AIMS Research Director

Telephone :07 4753 4282

Mobile :0418 469 770

Email :

Wendy Ellery, AIMS Media Liaison

Telephone: 07 4753 4409

Mobile: 0418 729 265