Research Vessels of JAMSTEC, Japan

by OldSailor on December 12, 2007

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Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) was inaugurated in 2004, as one of the independent administrative institutions upon re-organized from its former organization, Japan Marine Science and Technology Centre.

Objectives of JAMSTEC

  • to contribute to the advancement of academic research
  • to the improvement of marine science and technology by proceeding the fundamental research and development on marine
  • to the cooperative activities on the academic research related to the Ocean for the benefit of the peace and human welfare

Research and Development projects undertaken by JAMSTEC

  • Observational Research for Global Environmental Change:Elucidating the Mechanism of Environmental Changes through Global Observations
  • Research on the Prediction of Future Global Change:Predict the Future Global Change for the Earth and Mankind
  • Research on dynamics of the inside of the Earth:Research on dynamics of the inside of the Earth
  • Studies on Marine Organisms and Extremophiles:Exploration of Unknown Biospheres toward Understanding of the Origin of Life
  • Research and Development of Infrastructural Technologies for Marine Science and Engineering:Research and Development of the World’s Most Advanced Marine Science and Technology
  • Simulations Research and Development:Forecasting the Earth’s Future

In addition JAMSTEC is handling many projects with international collaboration.

The following Research Vessels and Vehicles are available with JAMSTEC to undertake Research and Development Projects:

Research Vessel Natsushima

Natsushima has an aft wheelhouse that allows the vessel to be piloted while at the same time deploying and recovering Hyper-Dolphin from the rear section of the vessel. Natsushima was built in 1981. Ship is 67 m long;draft 3.8 m; cruising speed 12 knots; Diesel propulsion with CPP.

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Mission capabilities:

  • Support research dives of the 3,000 m class ROV, Hyper-Dolphin
  • Support research dives of the 4,000 m towed deep ocean floor survey system, Deep Tow
  • Seafloor topography surveys
  • Structural surveys of the deep-sea bottom
  • Sampling of seafloor sediments
  • Independent oceanographic surveys, and installation and collection of seismometers, mooring systems, etc.


Research Vessel Kaiyo

Kaiyo is a semi-submerged catamaran or SWATH-type vessel. It is therefore only minimally affected by waves, allowing work to be performed safely and efficiently onboard. The deck surface area can provide workspace for a range of experimental and observational instruments. Kaiyo was built in 1985. Ship is 62 m long;draft 6.3 m; cruising speed 13 knots; Electrical Propulsion with CPP. Uses Dynamic Positioning System (DPS)

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Mission capabilities:

  • Support research dives of the deep ocean floor survey system, Deep Tow
  • Structural surveys of the deep-sea bottom
  • Seafloor topography surveys

Support Ship Yokosuka

The support ship Yokosuka performs surveys of the deep-sea bottom by acting as a support ship for SHINKAI 6500, a large submersible research vehicle. SHINKAI 6500 is capable of diving to a maximum depth of 6,500 m in the world. Ship is 105 m long;draft 4.7 m; cruising speed 16 knots; Diesel Propulsion with CPP.

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Mission capabilities:

  • Support research dives of the manned submersible, SHINKAI 6500
  • Support research dives of the 4,000 m towed deep ocean floor survey system, Deep Tow
  • Seafloor topography surveys
  • Sub-bottom profiling
  • Geophysical surveys
  • Sampling of seafloor sediments
  • Structural surveys of the deep-sea bottom
  • Deployment and collection of seismometers, mooring systems, etc.

Oceanographic Research Vessel Mirai

A large vessel able to perform observational studies over wide areas under rough weather conditions, Mirai is one of the largest class of research vessels in the world. Converted from the former nuclear powered ship, Mutsu. The vessel’s reactor was removed in 1995, non-reusable parts were dismantled and asbestos removed, and in 1996 the vessel was reborn as Mirai. Ship is 128 m long;draft 6.9 m; cruising speed 16 knots; Electrical Propulsion with CPP.

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Mission capabilities:

  • Determining the Thermal Cycle of the Ocean
  • Resolving the Material Cycle of the Ocean
  • Resolving the Oceanic Ecosystem
  • Resolving Seafloor Dynamics
  • Deployment of Oceanic Observation Buoys

Deep sea Research ship Kairei

The deep sea research ship Kairei conducts surveys of seabeds in trench areas by acting as the support ship for the deep sea ROV, KAIKO 7000, which can conduct surveys up to a maximum depth of 7,000 m. Ship is 104 m long;draft 4.5 m; cruising speed 16 knots; Diesel Propulsion with CPP.

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Mission capabilities:

  • Operation of the 7,000 m class deep sea ROV, KAIKO 7000
  • Support research dives of the 4,000 m towed deep ocean floor survey system, DEEP TOW
  • Seafloor topography surveys
  • Sub-bottom profiling
  • Geophysical surveys
  • Sampling of seafloor sediments
  • Structural surveys of the deep sea bottom
  • Deployment and collection of ocean seismometers, mooring systems, etc.

Research Vessel Hakuho Maru

Hakuho Maru was transferred from the University of Tokyo’s Ocean Research Institute together with Tansei Maru in 2004, coinciding with the inauguration of JAMSTEC as an independently administered institution. HAKUHO MARU is a large-scale research vessel equipped with various research laboratories and observational equipments including winches. The vessel is able to conduct long-term, long-range, multipurpose research cruises around the world, in both coastal and offshore waters including those in the polar regions. Ship is 100 m long;draft 6.0 m; cruising speed 16 knots; Electrical Propulsion with CPP.

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Mission capabilities:Research surveys of marine life, geophysical and geochemical processes, and seismological surveys

Research Vessel Tansei Maru

Tansei Maru was transferred from the University of Tokyo’s Ocean Research Institute in 2004, coinciding with the inauguration of JAMSTEC as an independently administered institution. The vessel is employed in a wide range of fundamental ocean research operations, mainly in the seas surrounding Japan, including Sagami Bay, Suruga Bay, Kumano-nada, and off Sanriku. Ship is 51 m long;draft 3.7 m; cruising speed 13 knots; Diesel Propulsion.

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Mission capabilities:Research surveys of marine life, geophysical and geochemical processes, and seismological surveys

Marine Research Submersible SHINKAI 6500

SHINKAI 6500 is a manned submersible that can dive up to a depth of 6,500 m. The vessel currently has the greatest depth range of any manned research vehicle in the world. SHINKAI 6500 was completed in 1990, and in 2007, it completed its 1000th dive. The vessel studies topography and geology of the seafloor and is studied organisms that inhabit in the deep sea of Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean in addition to Japan Sea.

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Mission capabilities:

  • Ascertain Movements within the Earth’s Interior
  • Clarify the Evolution of Living Organisms
  • Utilization and Conservation of Deep-Sea Organisms
  • Resolve Thermal and Material Cycles

Deep sea Drilling vessel Chikyu

Completed in July 2005, the deep sea drilling vessel, Chikyu, features the most advanced drilling capabilities in the world (7,000 m below the seafloor). With these capabilities, Chikyu allows drilling of the previously unreachable mantle as well as the seismogenic zone. Acting as the principal vessel of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP), the main objective of Chikyu is to facilitate a wide range of activities that once achieved will contribute to the future of humankind. These activities may include revealing the mechanism to develop the giant earthquake, the origins of life, future global environmental changes, and new deep sea resources. Ship is 210 m long;draft 9.2 m; cruising speed 12 knots; Diesel Electric Propulsion.

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Mission capabilities:

  • Observation and direct sampling of the seismogenic zone
  • Research into life in the earth’s crust and in the sub-sea floor environment
  • Investigation of the internal structure of the earth
  • Investigation of the record and causes of global environmental change

Deep Sea cruising AUV Urashima

The deep-sea cruising vessel Urashima is an autonomous deep-sea exploration robot which was developed by JAMSTEC since 1998. The vehicle is able to determine its own location and follow predefined courses configured in its onboard computer. On February 28, 2005 Urashima succeeded to complete the world-record, 317-km continuous cruise. Urashima is able to automatically collect oceanographic data (such as salinity, water temperature and dissolved oxygen) required to clarify the mechanisms of global warming over an extensive areas. The vehicle is also able to cruise along the seafloor in order to acquire extremely high-resolution seafloor topography and sub-bottom structure. The vessel is navigated by program put into its computer, which means that it can perform surveys over a particular fixed location or up and down a defined narrow path or range.

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View a video of AUV Urashima

Deep Ocean Floor Survey System Deep Tow

Deep Tow is a deep ocean floor survey system that can be outfitted with sonar or cameras and towed through the water at low speeds at the end of a cable measuring several thousand meters in length. There are four systems available: a camera and sonar system in the 4,000 m class, and a camera and sonar system in the 6,000 m class.

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Mission capabilities:

  • Surveys of the deep sea, ocean floor topography, geology (hydrothermal activity, etc.), resources, and physical oceanography
  • Bathyal organism surveys
  • Preliminary surveys before manned or ROV submersible dive surveys
  • Searches for man-made objects, installation of observational instruments

Remotely Operated Vehicle Hyper Dolphin

Hyper Dolphin is a remotely operated vehicle that is able to conduct surveys at a maximum depth of 3,000 m. Equipped with a high-definition TV camera, the vehicle facilitates visual and filmed surveys of the deep sea. Samples from the ocean floor can also be collected using the two manipulators (robot arms) on the vehicle.

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Uses High Definition TV camera. The images shot by this camera are transformed through a 3,300 m optic fibre cable between the camera of the vehicle and the control room of the controlling ship.

Remotely Operated Vehicle Kaiko 7000

Kaiko 7000 unmanned research vessel is a type of launcher vehicle capable of diving to a maximum depth of 7,000 m to perform research. Kaiko was lost during an accident that occurred off Shikoku in May 2003 in which the secondary cable was severed. To replace it, UROV7K, a 7,000 m class optical fibre cable-type remotely operated vehicle, was modified and integrated with Kaiko’s launcher to create the new Kaiko 7000.

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Mission capabilities:

  • To survey deep ocean areas that are impossible to survey with manned submersibles
  • To survey deep ocean areas that are dangerous due to complicated topography

The ability to dive to a depth of 7,000 m makes this vehicle one of the deepest diving vessels in the world.

Source:JAMSTEC

OldSailor sincerely appreciates JAMSTEC for their outstanding contribution to marine world.

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