World’s quietest research vessel arrives in Galway

Ireland’s new national research vessel, the Celtic Explorer has exceeded international underwater noise requirements making it the quietest research vessel in the world. 

The vessel left Norway on Friday 27th December having successfully completed the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) underwater noise requirements for research vessels undertaking fisheries surveys. Only two European research vessels comply with ICES noise requirements and the Celtic Explorer is the first research vessel in the world to exceed them.

The Celtic Explorer arrived in Galway Harbour 30th December 2002 and will be officially commissioned by the Marine Institute in April, following an intensive three-month shakedown period. Her arrival in Galway marks a key milestone in the delivery of Ireland’s most advanced national research vessel. Over the next three months scientific instruments and electronic equipment will be commissioned and tested and the vessel’s new crew-members, many of whom come from the fishing industry, will undergo a comprehensive training programme. 

The multipurpose Celtic Explorer will begin scientific operations in April and is already committed to undertaking the National Seabed Survey. She will also play a vital role in fisheries research, delivering real-time information on the fisheries resource, which will put Ireland in a much stronger position to propose effective conservation measures for fish stocks and support the sustainability of the Irish fishing industry. The ability of the Celtic Explorer to stay at sea for up to 45 days at a time undertaking scientific research and operate in virtual silence, so as not to disturb fish, signals the largest advance in Irish marine research capability in the history of the state.

The Celtic Explorer will also provide a platform for oceanographic work, environmental and geological sampling, acoustic research operations and buoy laying and recovery. 



About ICES Cooperative Research Report  209

The International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) Cooperative Research Report 209, recommends limits of underwater radiated noise that should be radiated from a vessel carrying out fisheries research. The two main aims for noise reduction in fisheries research vessels as laid down in the Report are 1) to ensure that fish do not swim out of the path of the vessel as it approaches, nor must the radiated noise cause an artificial concentration of fish below the vessel, and 2) to prevent noise from being integrated as a signal, or from contaminating the fish echoes received and processed by acoustic survey equipment.

For further information on the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) or a copy of the Report No.209, please see their website:

Some key Milestones to date:

December 2000:  An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern signed authorisation to build the RV Celtic Explorer. 

March 2001:  The main construction drawings for the Celtic Explorer were approved.

July 2001:  The keel-laying took place on the 6th of July 2001, in Galatz, Romania

April 2002:  The entire steel superstructure of the vessel was completed.

July 2002:  The vessel arrived at Vlissingen, Holland on Tuesday the 9th of July.  Preparations commenced for the fit-out of the vessel. (The fit-out was on-going from July until October 2002)

September 2002:  The vessel was launched in Holland  

October 2002:  Shore trials of deck machinery were undertaken.  The mast was fitted and the carpentry commenced.  The internal fit-out was nearing completion with the installation of laboratory infrastructure, bridge electronics and galley equipment.

November 2002:  Sea trials began on the 11th November in Holland. The Celtic Explorer underwent critical noise trials and trials of the hull-mounted scientific instrumentation. 

December 2002: Celtic Explorer arrives in Ireland.