RV Tom Crean, commissioned at ceremony in Dingle, expected to put Ireland at forefront of marine science

Research vessel named after Kerry Antarctic explorer will be based in Galway to enable the Marine Institute continue to carry out vital surveys

A new research vessel named after Kerry Antarctic explorer Tom Crean was commissioned at a special ceremony in Dingle harbour on Thursday attended by his great-great-grandchildren.

It was commissioned by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue.

The RV Tom Crean will be based in Galway and enable the Marine Institute there to carry out a wide range of marine research activities including expanded fisheries surveys, seabed mapping, data collection to support marine spatial planning, climate change-related research, environmental monitoring, deep water surveys, and undertaking research in the Atlantic Ocean with our EU partners.

The vessel, capable of operating throughout all of the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone, will replace the RV Celtic Voyager, Ireland’s first purpose-built research vessel, which arrived in 1997. The RV Tom Crean makes much less underwater noise than traditional vessels, reducing the effect of noise on fish populations while surveying and sampling, so that a more accurate stock assessment can be made.


It will be at sea for 300 operational days each year, heading to sea for at least 21 days at a time, being also designed to operate in the harsh sea conditions of the Atlantic.

Mr McConalogue said he did not need “to remind anyone here today that Ireland’s oceans are vital to our economy, our environment and many aspects of our daily lives. The RV Tom Crean will undertake essential scientific work, which will support many of the projects outlined in the Programme for Government, including fisheries assessment, food security, offshore renewable energy, marine spatial planning, marine protected areas and assist the State in addressing the challenges of climate change”.

Chief executive of the Marine Institute Dr Paul Connolly said the institute was delighted to name the new research vessel after Tom Crean “as it gives recognition to an Irish explorer of international renown whose life was packed with amazing feats of Antarctic bravery, determination and courage. The institute appreciates the support of descendants of Tom Crean in this decision.”

He said the new vessel would “enhance Ireland’s capacity to undertake international collaborative research to acquire the ocean data and knowledge essential to managing our vast marine resources”.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times