Historical Research vessels
HMS Challenger (1858-1878)
This 60m steam-assisted corvette of the Royal Navy was probably the most famous pioneer of oceanographic vessels. Before being transformed as a research vessel, she was a battle ship as a part of the North America and West Indies Station and took part in battles against Mexico.
In 1872 the Royal Society of London obtained the use of HMS Challenger from the Royal Navy and modified the ship for scientific work. The Challenger expedition took place between 1872 and 1874 and was the first global marine research expedition. Although that expedition was a great success and is probably one of the most important milestone of the marine geosciences, after being decommissioned in 1878, she was finally broken for scrap in 1921.
RV Calypso (1950–1997)
The 43 meters long research vessel of Jacques-Yves Cousteau was originally built as a Royal Navy minesweeper. After the world war 2, it has been converted into a research vessel and equipped with a mobile laboratory for underwater field research. For its time, the Calypso carried some of the most advanced oceanography equipment including mini submarines, underwater scooters and cameras. One of the most famous characteristic of the Calypso was probably the see-through "nose" and an observation chamber three meters below the waterline.
One year before the death of Cousteau, the Calypso sank in the port of Singapore, rammed by a barge. After being towed back to France, the ship remained in disrepair for years because of a legal battle for the ownership of the vessel. The restoration project is currently stopped.
Glomar Challenger (1968-1983)
Designed by Global Marine Inc, the Glomar Challenger was launched on March 23, 1968. It was specifically designed to be a scientific drilling vessel for oceanography and more particularly for marine geosciences studes. This 120m long vessel was the main instrument of the Deep Sea Drilling Program. One of its most important scientific achievement was to give conclusive evidence of the seafloor spreading along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, therefor proving the plate tectonic theory.
The Glomar Challenger was taken out of active duty in 1983 and replaced in 1985 by the Joides Resolution.
RV Knorr (1968-2016)
This 85m long research vessel was operated by Woods Hole Institution and was designed to accommodate a wide range of oceanographic tasks. Not long after being delivered, the Knorr participated in a groundbreaking international collaboration, the French-American Mid-Ocean Undersea Study (Project FAMOUS) in 1973. During this expedition along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, scientists took a first look at the seascape where tectonic plate are created along Mid-Oceanic Ridges. 4 Years later, the Knorr was also involved in the discovery of the first black smokers along another volcanic seafloor spreading centre: the Galapagos rift.
The ship was recently transferred to the Mexican Navy to be used as a research vessel, and renamed the Rio Tecolutla.