Irish Ships and Shipping


Irish Marine Institute Research vessels

the national platform for offshore Marine Research

RV Celtic Explorer     RV Celtic Voyager     RV Lough Beltra


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The RV Celtic Explorer

She is 65.5m in length and accommodates 31 personnel, including 16-18 scientists. The Celtic Explorer is, in gross terms, six times the size of her sister vessel, the Celtic Voyager.

Ireland's unique strategic position on the edge of the Atlantic means that the Celtic Explorer is able to facilitate both national and international research and exploration. The vessel is based in Galway, which is ideally located as the gateway to the Atlantic and geographically close to the main working areas. Until recently, most research carried out in Irish territorial waters was by foreign research vessels.

Photos from Ted Sweeney

      My name is Ted Sweeney from Blacksod Co Mayo and I sailed in Irish Shipping as engineer from 1966 to 1976. I then joined Irish Lights and served on their tenders until 2000. I then sailed with P &O ferries on the Larne / Cairnryan route until I joined this vessel while she was being built by Damen shipyards in Holland in 2002, I have sailed on her as Chief  Engineer since.  I am attaching some photos of this ship as there are none of her on the website. I would also like to send my best wishes to the many shipmates I sailed with in ISL and the many happy memories  I have of them.
March 2009

LtoR  Liam Maloney- Chief Officer, Ted Sweeney- Chief Engineer, Paddy Cod- Chief Cook.

All ex. Irish Shipping ltd. crew, now working the Celtic Explorer.


More information from the Marine Institute

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RV Celtic Voyager


The Celtic Voyager is a 31.4m multi-purpose research vessel. She has wet, dry and chemical laboratories, which are permanently fitted with standard scientific equipment. She can accommodate 6 - 8 scientists and has a maximum range of 17 days. She is manned by a very experienced crew. They are highly skilled with the handling and deployment of scientific equipment.

The Celtic Voyager facilitates the collection of fisheries, geophysical, oceanographic and environmental data and provides practical training for the next generation of marine scientists. This research is of crucial national importance, to ensure the development of Ireland's vast natural resource in a sustainable manner

Celtic Voyager Technical Specifications

 Length o.a. 31.4 m 
 Beam  8.5 m
 Draught  3.8 m
 Gross tonnage  340 T
 Type  Steel hull, multi-chined construction, single screw
 Speed  ≤10 knots
 Lloyds classification  100A1 Research Vessel, LMC
 Accommodation  15:    8 scientists, 7 crew. Scientists quarters: 4 two-man berths.
 Endurance  14 days

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RV Lough Beltra 1976

The "Lough Beltra" was launched from Hakvoort Shipyard, Holland in 1973. She is a seventy foot steel
stern trawler and was used as such by Howth Fisheries Limited until 1976 when she was acquired by the
National Science Council.

The National Science Council was established in 1967 to advise the Government on science and
technology, with particular reference to economic development. The "Lough Beltra" was taken over by
the Council on 1st June, 1976 and Irish Shipping have attended to the operational needs of the vessel
since then with regard to manning and services. The vessel is propelled by a 425 H.P. marine caterpillar
engine and has a service speed of 10 knots. She is fully controlled from the bridge and has the most up-to-
date navigational equipment including a Decca Auto Pilot, Track Plotter, Navigator and Radar.


There is accommodation for eight people on board including a crew of three the Master, Engineer and Cook. In
addition there are five scientists and in the vessels operations so far these experts have come from the
Geological Survey of Ireland, the Department of Oceanography, U.C.G., Department of Microbiology,
Department of Zoology and the Fisheries Division. The Geological Survey of Ireland were working on
the East Coast and on the proposed Kinsale pipeline using an overboard side scanner so that they could
examine the sea bed to a depth of three feet. The Department of Zoology were involved in deepwater benthic dredging while the Oceanography Department were interested in taking water and plankton samples. 

The Fisheries Division were taking core samples and after these have been dried they help to determine  
the mercury and iron content. In addition to this type of scientific research it is also expected that charts of 
the different sea areas and information will be compiled on the history and movement of marine life around our coasts.
This work will undoubtedly take a considerable length of time and the present research being undertaken
aboard the "Lough Beltra" is a very important first step in providing information which is vital to the
future development of our marine resources.

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