Specialist facilities and equipment

Based on the waterfront, Plymouth is the perfect location for your marine studies. 

With a dedicated survey vessel and specialist resources including the Marine Institute, you’ll learn the newest methods and soak up the latest thinking.

Falcon Spirit

Our dedicated research vessel, Falcon Spirit, is used for demonstrations and one-week practicals within Plymouth Sound. Her name honours Robert Falcon Scott, a Plymothian naval officer and polar explorer who attempted to be the first person to reach the South Pole.

Built by Alnmaritec of Northumberland the RV Falcon Spirit is an aluminium catamaran. This 13.65m survey vessel is coded by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency for 14 people to work up to 60 miles from safe haven. With a beam of six metres, it offers a large and stable 25m of floodlit configurable aft deck space.

Internally the vessel has dry laboratory space for a minimum of six workstations, plus a separate wet laboratory facility. With a pair of 500 horsepower diesel engines, the vessel is capable of a 300 mile range at a 15 knot service speed, with considerable power in reserve.

The vessel comes with the capability to troll at very slow speeds and has a one metre by one metre moon pool, two independent one tonne hydraulic capstans, and a 500kg pot hauler in way of a double door in the starboard bulwark.

Power is via an independent generator producing 12.3 kVa of clean power to a multitude of 240V sockets.

The RV Falcon Spirit offers you a flexible, high specification platform for marine research. Technician support includes the skipper for Falcon Spirit, computer, electronic and survey technicians.

Multi-beam sonar system

The multi-beam echo sounder on board the boat can accurately measure latitude, longitude and the height of seabed features up to 400 meters below the surface. We use it for teaching, research and, in partnership with commercial companies, for hydrographic and other underwater surveying. The system enables students and researchers to map the subsurface environment and visualise in detail features such as shipwrecks.

On land technology and equipment

A dedicated postgraduate computing facility is provided on the same floor as the MSc Hydrography base room. 

Laptop computers with modern survey equipment and current acoustic sensors, satellite positioning and land survey equipment are available for you to use on Falcon Spirit and elsewhere.

You’ll have access to a wide range of acquisition and processing software, and survey instrumentation, often supplemented by industrial support, in the provision of high specification equipment.

The Marine Institute

An unmatched wave-testing tank. Modern equipment for use at sea and on-land. A gathering place for international marine businesses. The Marine Institute is all about sharing expertise in marine and maritime research and developing sustainable practical and policy solutions.

Bringing together more than 3,000 staff, students and researchers from across the University, the Marine Institute is brimming with expertise and ideas.

From ocean exploration to coastal engineering to sustainable environmental management, every marine related course is represented at the Institute. Staff and students from the Faculties of Science and Engineering, Arts and Humanities, Business and Health and Human Sciences share space, equipment and data.

With the latest international research at your fingertips, you’ll be able to set your study in the wider context of the marine environment. Share ideas with the scientists, policy makers, artists, technicians and business managers of today — and tomorrow.