A state-of-the-art floating laboratory that would take the marine researchers and oceanographers across the oceans is taking shape on the drawing board.
Expert Committee constituted by the Ministry of Earth Sciences have drawn up the scientific specifications for a Fishery and Oceanographic Research Vessel (FORV) that would be used for marine and ocean research. The new vessel is being envisaged as a replacement to the ageing Sagar Sampada, which has been facilitating marine research activities of India since 1984.
The FORV would have latest hydro-acoustic equipment, low noise signature for minimum fish stock disturbance, together with increased stability in worse weather conditions and overall cost effectiveness, it says. The proposed vessel would have a length 90 metres.
It will have on board, fish-finding sonar with long range capability to detect fish schools to about 3,000 metres under favourable oceanographic situations. The long-range detection of fish shoals would be obtained by omni-directional transducers operating at a frequency range between 20 Hz and 30 kHz. Hull-mounted high-precision acoustic position system transponders, fishing equipment and deck-controlled underwater video cameras will be on board.
The Automatic Weather Station on board the vessel would have facilities to record wind speed/direction, wave heave, roll and pitch, sea surface temperature, sea surface air temperature sensor and other sensors with data telemetry for in-situ data collection onboard.
Buoys for monitoring sub-sea parameters including wave height and period, sea current speed and direction, dissolved oxygen and facilities for keeping track of solar radiation will also be on board. There would be an integrated fish-finding system and facilities for preparing electronic chart for seabed mapping interface with echo-sounder data from the scientific echo sounder.
A hydraulically operated fish handling and conveyor system will be on board for the convenient sorting and studies of fish catch.
The vessel will also be equipped with multi-function positioning transponder, deep-sea echo sounder, high-precision scientific wide band fishery echo sounder, hull-mounted broadband acoustic doppler, spectrometric auto-analyser for nutrient analysis, salinometer, digital deep sea reversing thermometers, in situ chlorophyll analyser and laboratory table-mounted dissolved organic carbon analyser for sea water analysis.
Micro, nano, pico plankton/algae culture facility, high magnification trinocular microscope with digital PC output and onscreen display has also been proposed.
The vessel would cost around Rs.700 crore and is expected to be ready for its maiden cruise by 2020.