Falcon Spirit
Work in marine science at the University of Plymouth is underpinned by access to a fully-equipped fleet of boats, the latest instrumentation, specialist software and a £4.65million Marine Station that provides a base for fieldwork. Pride of place in our fleet goes to RV Falcon Spirit, a 14 metre catamaran which is used, along with smaller boats, for group practicals and individual project work spanning collection of seabed and water samples and acquisition of hydrographic survey and oceanographic datasets.
Our instrumentation includes the latest oceanographic and hydrographic survey sensors (including an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler, Multi-Beam Echo-Sounder, and towed undulating Conductivity-Temperature-depth system), an automatic weather station and specialist software for data analysis and visualisation.
The facilities and equipment represent a substantial investment and are available to support any research or commercial project that is conducted by our staff and our partners.

RV Falcon Spirit 

RV Falcon Spirit in a 14 metre aluminium catamaran configured as a flexible platform for teaching and research.

It is used extensively for oceanographic and biological sampling as well as hydrographic survey. To support this, it has lifting capability via a stern H-frame, a variety of mounting points for survey equipment and both dry and wet laboratory spaces.

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 165-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 boasts a one metre by one-metre moon pool, two independent 600kg hydraulic capstans, and a 400kg 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, a 1.6kw inverter, and a 4kw UPS. The RV Falcon Spirit offers a flexible and state-of-the-art platform for marine research.

Multi-beam sonar system

The multi-beam echo sounder system is used on board Falcon Spirit and can accurately measure latitude, longitude and the height of seabed features up to 400 meters below the surface. 

It is used 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.

Falcon Spirit
Falcon Spirit
Falcon Spirit

Take The Helm

Take the Helm is a Dufor 445 and is the University of Plymouth's sail training vessel.

Coded to sail 60 nautical miles from a safe haven, she's equipped with a galley, teaching area, six berths, all modern navigational aids and a heater. Weekend sailing with appropriately qualified students is a great way to build experience and confidence.

  • Sailing yacht for navigators and seamanship training
  • Length: 13.5m
  • Beam: 4.34m
  • Cruising speed (under power): 6–8 knots
  • Range: 20-60 miles from a safe haven (dependant on P.O.B)
  • MCA Cat 4 with 10 P.O.B./Cat 2 with 8 P.O.B.
  • Specialist equipment includes position fixing, chart plotter/GPS, radar, sounder, VHF.

Take the Helm


Wavedancer is a South Cat 11 metre (36 feet) Mk11 Catamaran. 

The state-of-the-art, multi-purpose survey vessel boasts the most up-to-date navigational and electronic equipment and has a versatile and configurable deck space which allows the School of Biological and Marine Sciences to conduct marine fieldwork across a whole range of subject modules. 

It is used extensively for diving and oceanographic and biological sampling. To support this, it has two interchangeable configurations, a lift on the stern for diving and a stern H-frame for deploying and retrieving equipment.

Designed to take up to 12 students or divers, the vessel has proved her worth operating in and around Plymouth Sound as a teaching platform, training the next cohort of marine scientists and divers on the HSE Professional SCUBA diving course.

The University's Wavedancer catamaran at sea


JoJo regularly undertakes the role of dive support vessel as well as other support roles for teaching and research. 

JoJo is coded to work up to 60 miles from safe haven, cruises at a speed of approximately 14 knots and can carry 12 passengers and two crew.

  • Skipper + 1 nominated crew
  • Length: 10.5 metres, Beam: 3.46 metres
  • Cruising speed: 10 knots
  • Range: 60 miles from a safe haven
  • MCA Cat 2/ Max P.O.B. 14
  • 240 volt AC/600 watts
  • Special equipment includes position fixing, chart plotter/GPS, radar, sounder, VHF.

Marine station - Offshore 105

Polar Cirkel polyethylene work boats 

We have three types of small powerboats, namely Polar Cirkel work boats, an Orkney Day-Angler, and an Arancia inflatable which many will recognise from its usual role of lifeguards surf-rescue boat.

These are used in a variety of dive support, student and research project sampling and coastal survey roles. They can accommodate three to eight persons and are either coded by the Maritime Coastguard Agency or licensed by Plymouth City Council.

  • Coxwain
  • Length: 5.96 metres
  • Beam: 2.5 metres
  • Cruising speed: 15 knots
  • Range: 20 miles from a nominated departure point (Plymouth)
  • in favourable weather and daylight
  • MCA Cat 5/ Max P.O.B. 8.
  • Specialist equipment includes GPS, sounder, VHF.

Polar Cirkel boats

Uncrewed Surface Vessel (USV) Cetus

State-of-the-art commercial grade uncrewed survey boat for marine data gathering and systems development. USV Cetus is a L3 Harris ‘C-Worker 4’, designed to accommodate a wide range of sensors, equipment and systems; operated remotely or as a semi-autonomous platform from support vessel or land station.

  • Length: 4.17m
  • Weight: 680kg lightship, 980kg fully fuelled
  • Propulsion: marine diesel engine driving waterjet
  • Speed: up to 7 knots
  • Endurance: up to 48 hours
  • Communications: DTC Mesh radio, WiFi and 4G
  • Dry payload space: sealed dry, easily configurable payload bay of 0.5m³
  • Wet payload bay: an underwater retractable mast is situated in in a 700mm x 500mm moon pool that can accommodate a range of underwater sensors, such as MBES, ADCP, USBL and PAM
  • Profiling winch: OSIL 100m profiling winch for 15kg payload
  • Payload power: 400W continuous power available 

USV CETUS front view

Falcon DR ROV System

The Falcon DR ROV System is a state-of-the-art remotely operated vehicle (ROV) equipped with HD video cameras and various manipulator arms. There are two 14mm OD umbilical cables, a 330m (terminated onto a hand winch) and a 1,100m cable (not on a winch or terminated at present). The whole system is rated to 1000m and is a highly customised research ROV used for oceanographic research and biological research, and is also suitable for use in filming.

The ROV is an upgraded, custom made version of the Saab Seaeye Falcon and is equipped with:

  • TRITECH obstacle avoidance sonar
  • 4 LED lights
  • SEAEYE colour video camera
  • HDTV camera mounted on skid
  • Skid Mounted Five Function Hydraulic Manipulator System
  • Valeport Modus CTD sensor
  • Link Quest USBL system.
Cetus square
Divers square Falcon Spirit
Students on board Falcon Spirit
Falcon Spirit working

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