Research ship

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Research ships take on a variety of research topics on the seas. They represent scientific laboratories at sea and take on tasks in the various disciplines: Arctic , Antarctic , ice and polar research , geology , meteorology , oceanography , shipbuilding , fisheries science , marine biology and underwater archeology .


A class division according to the driving areas has been established internationally:

  • global: ships that can be used on all oceans. Minimum requirements: sufficient radius of action, standing time 40 days, appropriate communication equipment, length 65 meters, winch capacity 6000 meters, deep-sea plumbing equipment, loading capacity for scientific equipment 100 tons, 25 scientist places
  • oceanic: Ships that only navigate one ocean, from a European perspective the North Atlantic and its side seas. Requirements: length min. 55 meters, deep sea winch and plumbing equipment
  • regional: from a German perspective, ships deployed in the North and Baltic Seas , operating depths of up to 1000 meters
  • local: ships for coastal research, operating depth up to max. 500 meters

Historic ships

HMS Beagle
The Danish Noona Dan expedition was named after their ship Noona Dan (now the German youth ship Seute Deern )

Historic or previously used ships are u. a .:

Legal status of research vessels in their historical development

The modern research ship emerged from the warships. A journey on land or on water undertaken for a scientific purpose was originally included under the term expedition . and the sea vehicle used for this is referred to as an "expedition ship". Its development took place from armed ships of the Kriegsmarine for expedition trips in foreign countries to military auxiliary ships for surveying, especially in coastal areas, to such sea vehicles that were specially converted for marine research or rebuilt as special ships for exploring the seas. The combination of research and survey vessels by the seafaring states was already common before both world wars and was continued by the naval forces after 1945.

A (federal) German marine research trip to the North Sea after the end of the Second World War, which was important for herring fishery research, took place in 1950 with a civil survey and research vessel, the Gauss , and the Gauss , as a state ship, first called at a foreign port: Aberdeen in the northeast of Scotland in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The oceanographer Klaus Voigt , originally from the GDR , was able to take part in a voyage of the Soviet research vessel Mikhail Lomonossow in the Atlantic Ocean for the first time in 1959 and got to know the workings of foreign colleagues from various disciplines, which was important for his later marine dissertation and work before and after reunification Germany was useful as a science organizer, especially at UNESCO . With its fisheries research vessel Ernst Haeckel , the GDR carried out oceanographic observations in the equatorial Atlantic Ocean and on the Patagonian shelf during the 1st South Atlantic Expedition in 1966. FS A. v. Humboldt , whose owner was the Academy of Sciences of the GDR until reunification , was berthed in the Rostock harbor and from there, after 1990, mainly went to Baltic Sea research on behalf of the Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde until it was decommissioned as a research ship in 2004.

The complexity of the establishment of international legal rules for research vessels was raised in the 1970s by maritime lawyers in connection with problems of marine pollution and marine research and pointed out that behind the legal questions there are political and economic interests as well as often military ones led to registration and approval requirements for entry into foreign ports by research vessels - regardless of their status. The invitation and participation of researchers from other countries for research work on board turned out to be “an effective instrument for international cooperation in oceanography” and served for peaceful cooperation and understanding. Foreign marine scientists could primarily work on German research vessels if the research program was based on an international agreement. The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO has been promoting international programs on the basis of government agreements of the member states since 1961, so that marine researchers from different countries work together on ocean-going research vessels. In March 2001, scientists from the Technical University Bergakademie Freiberg in Saxony explored hydrothermal ore deposits for the first time south of the 60th parallel from on board the research vessel Sonne, which was modernized in 1991 , in strict compliance with the rules laid down in the international Antarctic Treaty. The international team of 25 researchers consisted of oceanographers from Germany, Canada and the USA.

During a sea voyage to South America, Alexander von Humboldt had, on board the Spanish corvette “Pizarro”, imagined how government ships could be used for marine research. During the crossing, Humboldt was able to carry out investigations into the maritime atmosphere with his own instruments. In Germany, corresponding research vessels were later given this status and they were authorized to fly an official flag of the German government.

The geographer, geophysicist and geodist Erich von Drygalski (1865–1949) established the tradition of using civilian ocean-going special ships for scientific marine research and expressly designating them as “research ships” . Drygalski attached great importance to the research vessel Gauss while the ship of state had property and appropriate international legal immunity enjoyed, but not with the attributes of an account of the purely scientific research purposes warship was equipped and thus in no way restrictive provisions of international law for warships particularly strange when starting ports was subject. The crew of the sailing ship Gauß , including its captain, Hans Ruser , and the scientific staff under the direction of v. Drygalski consisted only of civilians - a characteristic of civilian ships. The Poseidon , built by Germany in 1902 for national and international fishery biology research purposes in the North and Baltic Seas, was officially known as the "Reichsforschungsdampfer" and sailed under the Reichsienstflag in the Weimar Republic when this research ship was working for the German Scientific Commission for Marine Research and was Undertook research trips for ICES . In contrast, the Meteor , known as the “Reich Research Ship”, belonged to the Navy and this research ship became internationally famous through the German Atlantic Expedition from 1925 to 1927.

The implementation of research voyages for scientific purposes on the seas and oceans has usually been organized by the flag states in such a way that the seagoing vessels used for this purpose enjoy the immunity under international law from state vessels that are exclusively intended for non-commercial purposes. As early as 1898, when the former mail ship Valdivia was converted into a research ship , the Federal Foreign Office recommended the first German scientific deep-sea expedition, led by the Leipzig natural scientist Carl Friedrich Chun and the civilian skipper, Captain Adalbert Krech , to those governments whose territories were touched.

According to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the implementation of scientific marine research in the exclusive economic zone or on the continental shelf of a coastal state is subject to approval and is subject to conditions for foreign research vessels. In the interest of promoting international cooperation, there are obligations to inform about the exchange of scientific research results. If desired, the coastal state can also take part in the scientific investigations on board the foreign research vessels or be represented.

In the course of the development of their legal status, German research vessels, which were intended for scientific purposes, were named in the name of internationally known scientists, e. B. FS Heincke (1990), after Friedrich Heincke (1852-1929). Research ships from other seafaring nations were also named after their scientists. For example, the Soviet and later Russian research ship Mikhail Lomonossow , which operated from 1957 to 1999, was named in memory of the internationally known natural scientist and poet Mikhail Wassiljewitsch Lomonossow . Norway named their research ship HU Sverdrup II, built in 1990, after the internationally renowned oceanographer Harald Ulrik Sverdrup (1888–1957). Explorers and seafarers are also namesake for research ships. The British research ship RRS James Clark Ross was named after the English explorer and navigator James Clark Ross (1800–1862). In the history of the German research vessels, there are two lines of tradition in naming them: the giving of names to famous personalities and celestial bodies. The GDR named its few ocean-going research ships exclusively after personal names, while in reunified Germany both lines of tradition are maintained in ship christening, as the example of RV Sonne shows. Likewise, the tendency established in the Weimar Republic to allow seagoing vessels used as a means of scientific research to sail under a civil (federal service) flag is being continued.

The development of the rules for maritime scientific research in an international agreement on the law of the sea took place within the framework of the United Nations as early as 1974 to 1982. According to the factual and legal situation that had developed up to that point, the purely civil research vessels were used for oceanographic research in the course of their history Auxiliary ships of the Navy had not displaced, in a draft article of the former Eastern Bloc countries and Mongolia - presented at the 3rd session of the UN Conference on the Law of the Sea in Geneva in 1975 - it was taken into account that the "participation ... of military research vessels and equipment in marine scientific research is not sufficient (closed) ”, and it should even“ ensure that warships and military equipment can also be used for scientific marine research. ”In the 1982 Convention on the International Sea of ​​Law, the research vessels are in the UN official languages Arabic , Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish conceptually mentioned, e.g. B. as "research vessels" in the English version of the agreement and as "navires de recherche" in the French. The graduated immunity for their state research vessels is derived in more than 20 countries from the International Convention for the Uniform Determination of Rules on the Immunities of State Ships of 1926, which came into force in 1937 after the necessary ratification documents had been deposited with the Belgian government, as well as from general international law . In the 1970s, coastal states chose the description “ships authorized exclusively for scientific research purposes” for privileged research vessels, for example in the Convention on Fisheries and the Protection of Living Resources in the Baltic Sea and in the Belts.

In times of war and crisis, ships for scientific purposes (research ships) enjoyed the same protection under international law as those entrusted with religious or philanthropic tasks. In particular, these privileged ships were spared from being taken away ( exemption from taking prizes ).

Research vessels

Other ships in service include: a .:



Polar research ship Polarstern at the pier of the British station Rothera on the Antarctic Peninsula
BSH ships Gauss , Atair , Komet and Wega at the Kirchenpauerkai in Hamburg

German ships actively in service (with operator) are:

The European polar ice-breaking research and deep-sea drilling ship Aurora Borealis planned under German leadership should be completed in 2016, but the realization of the project is questionable due to a lack of funding and a recent negative statement by the Science Council in November 2010.

The agendas are coordinated by the German Research Vessels Control Center at the University of Hamburg .



United States

  • Alvin , submarine, built in 1964
  • FLoating Instrument Platform (FLIP), an American special ship built in 1962 without its own propulsion system that can be erected vertically in the water

Ships no longer active

Soviet Union
  • Michail Scholochow , built at the Neptun shipyard in the GDR
  • Sergei Vavilov
  • Akademik Wernadski


Web links

Commons : Research Vessels  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Expedition ship  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: research ship  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Carl Chun (1852-1914) and the early days of biological deep-sea research in Germany , Hjalmar Thiel & Michael Türkay; in: Historisch-Meereskundliches Jahrbuch, Volume 9, Stralsund, 2002, pp. 101-136; There is a picture of a painting of the research ship Valdiva under the imperial service flag of Imperial Germany on p. 114.
  2. H.-J. Brosin: From the "Georgius Agricola" to the "A. v. Humboldt". In: Historisch-Meereskundliches Jahrbuch. Volume 11, Stralsund 2005, p. 32.
  3. ^ Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon , 6th vol., Leipzig and Vienna, 1907, p. 220
  4. Such an “expedition ship” from the 19th century for the Northern Arctic Ocean is shown in Dollheimes Großes Buch des Wissens , 2nd volume, Leipzig 1938, p. 72, on the board “Schiffahrt I”
  5. See Germania-Hansa-Expedition (at the same time the 1st German North Polar Trip), 1869; German plankton expedition with the National , 1889; German deep-sea expedition with the Valdivia , 1898/99 and the 2nd German Antarctic expedition with the Germany , 1911/12, under the direction of Wilhelm Filchner , as well as other domestic and foreign maritime expeditions before 1945, including Belgium, Denmark, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and their research vessels used for this purpose are listed in: Meyers Lexikon , 7th vol., Leipzig, 1939, column 1187.f. under the subheading Exploration of the Seas .
  6. See e.g. B. Hans-Jürgen Brosin : From the "Challenger" to world ocean power. In: German naval calendar. 1972, DNB 012781711 , pp. 196-207.
  7. See e.g. B. Hans-Jürgen Brosin : The research ship Professor Albrecht Penck - serving marine research for over 50 years. In: Historisch-Meereskundliches Jahrbuch. Volume 10, Stralsund 2003/04, p. 14f.
  8. G. Wegner ( edit .): Surveying and research vessel Gauss: December 6, 1949 to December 20, 1979. German Hydrographic Institute, Hamburg 1980, p. 43.
  9. H.-J. Brosin: Klaus Voigt (1934–1995) - oceanographer and science organizer. In: Historisch-Meereskundliches Jahrbuch. Volume 12, Stralsund (2006), p. 84 and 96.
  10. Klaus Voigt: Investigations in the surface layer of the Atlantic Ocean with a digitally recording temperature-conductivity-pressure measuring device. Dissertation . Leipzig 1962, DNB 481167684 .
  11. ^ D. Nehring, HJ Brosin: Oceanographic observations in the equatorial Atlantic and on the Patagonian shelf during the 1st South Atlantic expedition with the fishery research vessel Ernst Haeckel from August to December 1966. In: Geodätische und geophysikalische Publications. Issue 3/1968 (publisher: German Academy of Sciences, National Committee for Geodesy and Geophysics of the GDR), Berlin 1968.
  12. Gunter Görner: International law in the context of its time , Verlag Rockstuhl, Bad Langensalza / Thüringen, 2014, p. 246, cf. Caption for the illustration of this research vessel; ISBN 978-3-86777-742-1
  13. Gerhard Reintanz : Marine pollution and marine research. In: German foreign policy. Issue 5/1973, p. 1120, footnote 26.
  14. Hans Ulrich Roll In: Research ship Meteor 1964–1985. Edited by the German Research Foundation; German Hydrographic Institute; Hamburg 1985, p. 52f.
  15. Research ship "Meteor" . Ed .: German Hydrographic Institute, Hamburg, supplement series A, No. 5, for the German Hydrographic Journal. 1964, p. 33, section "International Organizations"
  16. BROCKHAUS ENZYKLOPÄDIE in 30 volumes, 21st, completely revised edition, Vol. 9, Verlag FA Brockhaus, Leipzig / Mannheim; Keyword research ship and caption for the illustration of RV Sonne with dinghy in the Antarctic.
  17. Kortum, Gerhard "Alexander von Humboldt" as a name for research vessels against the background of his oceanographic work. In: HiN - Humboldt in the Net, III, 5 (2002), Section 3.2 Humboldt's own idea of ​​a research ship; ISSN 1617-5239
  18. Erich von Drygalski: To the continent of the icy south. Berlin 1904, p. 55.
  19. Christine Reinke-Kunze: On the trail of the seas: history and tasks of the German research vessels. Herford 1986, ISBN 3-7822-0388-7 , p. 156.
  20. Founded in 1902; Abbreviation: DWKfM
  21. The New Brockhaus. Volume 3: L-R. Verlag FA Brockhaus, Leipzig 1941, p. 233, column 1 under: "Meteor" expeditions
  22. Cf. Art. 32, 96 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea in conjunction with Art. 240 General Principles for the Conduct of Scientific Marine Research of December 10, 1982. Federal Law Gazette 1994 II p. 1798; entered into force November 16, 1994.
  23. In addition, the research ship Valdivia sailed under the imperial service flag; Carl Chun: From the depths of the ocean . 2nd edition, published by Gustav Fischer, Jena, 1903, p. 10; introduction
  24. Cf. Art. 246, 248, 252 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea
  25. Cf. Art. 249 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea
  26. RRS = Royal Research Vessel, research ship with state ship status
  27. Hartwig Weidemann (* 1921; † 2009). In: Research ship Meteor 1964–1985. Edited by the German Research Foundation; German Hydrographic Institute; Hamburg, 1985, p. 25.
  28. See Hans-Jürgen Brosin: From the "Georgius Agricola" to the "A. v. Humboldt". In: Historisches Meerskundliches Jahrbuch. Volume 11, Stralsund, 2005, p. 7.
  29. ^ Gunter Görner: The GDR and the international law of the sea , Berlin, 2009, p. 90; DNB 994526202
  30. Federal Law Gazette 1994 II p. 1798 under Art. 248 d) research vessels )
  31. International convention for the unification of certain rules concerning the immunity of state-owned ships
  32. Eberhard Menzel : The immunity of the state ships. In: Writings of the German Association for International Maritime Law. Issue 7, Hamburg 1961, p. 9.
  33. D. Schulz: The term "research ship" in the international law of the sea. In: Seewirtschaft. Issue 6/1976, p. 346.
  34. Schulz, D .: The status of research vessels and their accessories in maritime law (experts: Reintanz , Haalck and Elchlepp ), Halle (Saale) 1975, pp. 28 ff.; DNB 790886405
  35. Wissenschaftsrat: Recommendations for the future development of the German marine research fleet (PDF; 3.2 MB)
  37. Huge gas and oil deposits. In: FAZ-net mobil.
  38. cruise provider Nautianis; Retrieved September 25, 2010
  39. The Karpinsky is mentioned under Current Position in the South Sea ; Retrieved September 25, 2010
  40. a b On the 100th birthday of AG Kolesnikow. In: Morskoi Gidrofisitschesky Journal. (2007) No. 6, (Russian); Retrieved September 20, 2010.
  41. Ship data for the Scholochow on Forum ship under Die Werften in der DDR and October 2, 2009; accessed on September 25, 2010  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  42. Details on S. Wawilow on nordland special; Retrieved September 25, 2010