VESSEL REVIEW | Explorer – Shipwreck exploration vessel for New Jersey charter boat operator

Photo: Research Vessel Explorer

Research Vessel Explorer (RVE), a private marine research organisation based in Cape May, New Jersey, has taken delivery of a new aluminium research vessel built by Delaware Bay Shipbuilding in nearby Leesburg.

Boat captain and RVE managing partner Rustin Cassway said Explorer will operate primarily as a shipwreck exploration vessel. Designed by LeMole Naval Architecture and Specmar, the newbuild measures 45 by 15.5 feet (13.7 by 4.7 metres) and has a draught of 4.83 feet (1.47 metres).

Photo: Research Vessel Explorer/Rustin Cassway

Power is provided by two Cummins QSM-11 diesel engines that each produce 670 hp (499 kW) at 2,300 rpm to drive Acme Marine propellers via ZF gearboxes. This configuration delivers a maximum speed of 27 knots. A Kobelt side thruster and two Burkhardt Welding rudders are also fitted to provide added manoeuvrability while Zipwake trim tabs ensure stability.

The research and diving support equipment includes a Coltri scuba compressor and a Palfinger Marine crane. The electronics suite meanwhile consists of a Seakeeper gyrostabiliser and an autopilot, a radar, and plotters from Garmin.

Among the onboard facilities are a full galley and a passenger space with seating for up to six. Deck space is also available for first aid gear, oxygen tanks, and liferafts. All interior spaces are air-conditioned for added comfort during extended periods out at sea.

Explorer has already commenced operational sailings, performing shipwreck exploration work on behalf of various clients. Cassway said that 2023 will see the vessel exploring the wreckage of the Italian ocean liner Andrea Doria, which was lost in the North Atlantic along with 46 of its passengers and crew in 1956.

Photo: Research Vessel Explorer
Type of vessel:Research vessel
Port of registry:Cape May, New Jersey, USA
Owner:Research Vessel Explorer, USA
Designers:LeMole Naval Architecture, USA; Specmar, USA
Builder:Delaware Bay Shipbuilding, USA
Hull construction material:Aluminium
Length overall:45 feet (13.7 metres)
Beam:15.5 feet (4.7 metres)
Draught:4.83 feet (1.47 metres)
Main engines:2 x Cummins QSM-11, each 670 hp (499 kW) at 2,300 rpm
Gearboxes:2 x ZF
Propulsion:2 x Acme Marine propellers
Side thruster:Kobelt
Rudders:2 x Burkhardt Welding
Maximum speed:27 knots
Other electronics:Seakeeper gyrostabiliser
Crane:Palfinger Marine
Other equipment installed:Zipwake trim tabs; Coltri scuba compressor
Type of fuel:Diesel

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