The Research Vessel (R/V) Akademik Mstislav Keldysh is owned and operated by the Institute of Oceanology of the Russian Academy of Sciences. This globally ranging vessel was launched in 1981 and has since supported many scientific and exploratory voyages. It is most well-known for the two manned submersibles that it carries – Mir I and Mir II – which were used during investigations of famous sites such as the RMS Titanic shipwreck.
The R/V Keldysh is well equipped for conducting multidisciplinary research projects that involve large teams of scientists. The vessel can berth up to 90 people, including scientific personnel, officers and crew, and marine technicians.
The working space for research on the vessel includes 17 laboratories. Rocks and biological samples can be examined in the wet lab. Another lab contains sophisticated computers and other electronic equipment.
The largest workspaces on the ship are dedicated to supporting the Mir I and Mir II submersibles. The Keldysh was converted to support these submersibles in 1987. The Mirs are the heart of the Keldysh, and its equipment and crew are optimized to support these deep-diving submersibles. Specialized launch-and-recovery cranes are used to lift the Mirs in and out of the water. Small boats tow them away from the ship and brave divers jump into the water, no matter how frigid, to release the tow lines. Aboard the ship, large “hangar” doors cover the Mirs to protect them from the elements.
The scientists and ship personnel on board are split into “watches” so that a crew of people is always working, collecting data and managing the ship, 24 hours a day.
The vessel is equipped with advanced satellite navigation and communication systems. The Kelydesh also carries acoustic echosounders for scientific research and provisions for silent ship operation.
The Keldysh measures 122 meters in length and 17.8 meters of beam (width). It displaces 6,240 tons of water. Normal cruising speed for the vessel is 10.5 knots, with a maximum speed of 12.5 knots. The ship has a cruising range of 20,000 nautical miles and is propelled by four 1,460-horse power diesel engines.
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