RRS Charles Darwin

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Charles Darwin in Avonmouth docks near Bristol, being readied for a research cruise.
Charles Darwin in Avonmouth Docks, being readied for a research cruise.
Career (UK) The British blue ensign.
Name: RRS Charles Darwin
Namesake: Charles Darwin
Owner: Natural Environment Research Council
Operator: NERC - Research Vessel Services[1]
Builder: Appledore Shipbuilders, North Devon[2]
Yard number: 138[3]
Laid down: 1984
Launched: 22 February 1984 by the Prince of Wales[4]
Out of service: June 2006
Homeport: London
Career (UK) The British civil ensign.
Name: RV Ocean Researcher
Owner: Gardline Shipping ltd.[5]
Operator: Gardline Geosurvey
Port of registry: Lowestoft[6]
Acquired: 2006
Identification: IMO number: 8207941

MMSI Number: 235011460

Callsign: GDLS
Fate: in service
General characteristics
Class and type: DTp VII, Lloyds 100A1[7]
Type: Oceanography then Multi-Role Survey Vessel
Displacement: 2556 tonnes, fully loaded.
Length: 69.4 m (228 ft)
Beam: 14.4 m (47 ft)
Draught: 4.85 m (16 ft)
Installed power: 3 Mirrlees Blackstone MB275 diesels: 7,950 hp (5,928 kW)

Single controllable pitch 4-bladed StoneVickers propeller

White Gill Azimuthing bow thruster
Speed: 12.5 knots
Range: 9240 nautical miles
Endurance: 35 days
Complement: 39 (inc. scientific staff)
Sensors and
processing systems:
Simrad EM 12S 120 and EA500 echo/sonar; multiple GPS systems; Bridgemaster ARPA C342/6 and C252/6 radar.

The RRS Charles Darwin was a Royal Research Ship belonging to the British Natural Environment Research Council. Since 2006, she has been the geophysical survey vessel, RV Ocean Researcher,


RRS Charles Darwin was built in 1985 by Appledore Shipbuilders in Devon. Named after the eminent English naturalist, she was used primarily for research in oceanography, geology, and geophysics. After 21 years of service, Charles Darwin was retired in June 2006, and replaced by the RRS James Cook.[8]

Purchased by Gardline Marine Sciences Limited of Great Yarmouth, she was renamed RV Ocean Researcher, and now conducts geophysical surveys.[9]

Science cruises

RRS Charles Darwin carried out 180 research cruises, worldwide, in her 21 years as a Natural Environment Research Council ship. The first cruise, in 1985, in the Northeast Atlantic, was led by Professor John Gould. Researchers from the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, studying climate change, have used RRS Charles Darwin to investigate the slowing of the Gulf Stream. Her final cruise was a geophysical survey for the British Geological Survey.[8]



  1. "Charles Darwin". Research Ship Schedules & Information. http://www.researchvessels.org/country/UK/Darwin/darwin.html. Retrieved 28 February 2010. 
  2. "Ocean Researcher". Sea Agent. http://seaagent.com/ships/oceanographic_research/ship_imo_8207941.html. Retrieved 28 February 2010. 
  3. "Charles Darwin". Ship Photos. http://www.shipphotos.co.uk/pages/charlesdarwin.htm. Retrieved 1 March 2010. 
  4. Freeman, R. B. (2007). "Charles Darwin: A companion". The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?itemID=A27b&viewtype=text&pageseq=91. Retrieved 28 February 2010. 
  5. "Ocean Researcher". Ships Old and New. http://www.shipsoldandnew.fotopic.net/p46799451.html. Retrieved 28 February 2010. 
  6. "Ocean Researcher". Ships Nostalgia. http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=125477. Retrieved 28 February 2010. 
  7. "RRS Charles Darwin". The Inter-Agency Committee on Marine Science and Technology. http://www.marine.gov.uk/charles_darwin.htm. Retrieved 13 October 2007. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Farewell to Royal Research Ship". NERC. 9 June 2006. http://www.nerc.ac.uk/press/releases/2006/charlesdarwin.asp. Retrieved 2007-11-24. 
  9. "Ocean Researcher". Gardline Geosurvey. http://www.gardlinemarinesciences.co.uk/page/ocean-researcher/. Retrieved 2007-11-24.