Research Vessel Kilo Moana

R/V Kilo Moana. Image courtesy of University of Hawaii Marine Center

Image courtesy of the University of Hawaii Marine Center.

The Research Vessel (R/V) Kilo Moana is owned by the U.S. Navy and operated by the University of Hawaii Marine Center. This 186-foot general oceanographic research vessel is designed to operate in coastal and blue water areas.

Science and Research Support

Aerial shot of R/V Kilo Moana on sea trials in the Atlantic off Florida where she was built. Note the narrow pylons or struts than pass through the air-water interface.

Aerial shot of R/V Kilo Moana during sea trials in the Atlantic. Note the narrow pylons or struts than pass through the air-water interface.

The Kilo Moana possesses an innovative and unique hull design called “SWATH,” which stands for Small Waterplane Area Twin Hull. Built like a pontoon boat/catamaran hybrid, the ship is broader than other ships, offering a smoother ride, a large working deck area, and stable operations even in rough seas.

The vessel is equipped to perform a variety of general oceanography and multidisciplinary studies. There are eight laboratory spaces on board the ship, including hydrographic, chemical, and wet labs, as well general laboratory and computer spaces.

Scientific equipment available for use on the Kilo Moano include a gravity meter, magnetometer, a piston core, and a rock saw to conduct marine geology and geophysical experiments. Instruments such as fluorometers and a Conductivity-Temperature-Depth system can be used by scientists to analyze seawater.

The R/V Kilo Moana also has many advanced technological capabilities for studying the ocean floor. These technologies include multibeam sonar seafloor mapping systems that have been integrated into the ship design. Arrays of sonar transmitters and receivers are located along the bottom of the port hull. These systems are designed to gather data in shallow and deep water areas, allowing a complete range of mapping coverage from nearshore to the deepest depths of the world’s ocean.

The ship’s deepwater multibeam echo sounder is capable of hydrographic charting and seafloor acoustic backscatter imaging in water depths up to 11,000 meters, meaning the ship can map the deepest trenches on Earth. Another type of echo sounder on the Kilo Moana operates on the same theory as the the deepwater echo sounder, but with a higher frequency to allow better resolution in waters up to 1,000 meters.

The aft portion of the Kilo Moana main deck is configured to carry, launch, and recover equipment for a variety of oceanographic operations at sea, including coring, water sampling, equipment launch and recovery, and array and trawl towing. Two cranes and a winch are available for the launch of such equipment.

Navigation and Communication

A stern (rear) view of the ship. Note the large green A-frame on the deck that is used to deploy and recover oceanographic instruments and gear.

A stern (rear) view of the ship. Note the large green A-frame on the deck that is used to deploy and recover oceanographic instruments and gear.

Communication systems on the ship include HF (SSB) and VHF radio, as well as the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System for locating the vessel should it be in distress. A ship-wide computer network (Science Information System) provides data exchange between computers, scientific instruments, and video monitors. This system serves all mission spaces, public spaces, and staterooms. External communications are served through the INMARSAT-B satellite system and can be accessed on ship’s computer network.

To ensure safety and efficiency while navigating at sea, the vessel is equipped with a vessel control system and dynamic Global Positioning System equipment.

Kilo Moana is short for “oceanographer,” but literally means "one who is looking for understanding of the deep sea" in Hawaiian. The vessel can accommodate up to 20 crew members and 28 scientists. With a full complement of scientists and crew, the Kilo Moana can remain out at sea for 50 days and travel at a maximum speed of 15 knots.

 

To learn more:

R/V Kilo MoanaExternal link, University of Hawaii Marine CenterExternal link