RV Song of the Whale

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Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom.svgUnited Kingdom
Name: Song of the Whale
Owner: Marine Conservation Research International
Operator: Marine Conservation Research Ltd
Port of registry: London
Builder: Blondecell Ltd, Cracknore Hard, Marchwood, Southampton, UK.
Launched: 6 June 2004
Christened: 6 June 2004
Homeport: Ipswich, United Kingdom
Identification:MMSI number: 235007200
Status: in service
Notes: [1]
General characteristics
Type: Research vessel
Tonnage: 52 GT
Length: 21.53 m
Beam: 5.6 m
Height: 33 m (air draught)
Draught: 3 m
Propulsion: Yanmar 6LYA-STP 370 hp Single shaft; fixed pitch propeller; single bow thruster
Sail plan: cutter
Endurance: 30+ days
Complement: 12 (Crew and Scientific Personnel)

RV Song of the Whale is a research vessel owned by Marine Conservation Research International and operated by Marine Conservation Research Ltd. The 70-foot vessel was designed specifically to carry out research on cetaceans (and other marine fauna) using benign research techniques such as passive acoustic monitoring.


Song of the Whale is a cutter-rigged steel-hulled research vessel commissioned by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and built in 2004. The vessel was designed by Rogers Yacht Design of Lymington and built to Lloyd's Special Service Craft Rules for world-wide service - the first sailing vessel to meet those standards for 30 years.[2] Ordered from Blondecell Ltd, the subcontracted steel hull was fabricated by Corus Steel and assembled by Riverside Fabrication at Falmouth, Cornwall. The addition of the composite superstructure and the full outfitting was carried out at Blondecell's facility at Cracknore Hard, Marchwood, Hampshire.[3] The vessel cost £1.5 million.[2]

The design minimises acoustic emissions to facilitate the benign research techniques favoured by her former owners IFAW and the engine-room is encased in a Faraday cage to contain electrical fields.[4][5][6] The outfit of Song of the Whale includes the latest computerised recording and tracking devices to ensure that best and most advanced acoustic research can be carried out. To assist physical observation, there is a two-person crow's nest.[2]

The new vessel was launched in St Katharine Docks, London, on 6 June 2004 by Pierce and Keely Brosnan.[2][6][7]


Song of the Whale was formerly owned by IFAW until 14 March 2014 when the vessel was granted to Marine Conservation Research International of Kelvedon, UK. [8] She is based at Ipswich and continues to carry out the research for which she designed, using benign techniques. She replaced a smaller vessel of the same name, a converted 46-foot luxury yacht, which had been in service for 17 years.[2][6]

Song of the Whale carries out most of its research under sail to reduce the impact on the whales and other marine mammals being researched. The focus of projects is on their presence, distribution, movements and behaviour. Noise suppression is particularly important when assessing populations of whales as the researchers can listen to their sounds up to 20 miles away using hydrophone arrays, not relying solely on surface sightings.[6] Research undertaken is focused on the conservation of threatened species and habitats and includes work on the problems of underwater noise, whales becoming entangled in fishing gear or in collisions with ships.[9][10]


  1. ^ "Technical Data - RV Song of the Whale". MCR Ltd. Retrieved 11 November 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b c d e Foxwell, David (19 April 2004). "Blondecell-built Song of the Whale delivered to IFAW". IBI Plus. Retrieved 12 November 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "Steel Shipkit In Tune With 'Song of the Whale II'". Maritime Journal. 1 June 2002. Archived from the original on 12 November 2013. Retrieved 12 November 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ "IFAW 70". Rogers Yacht Design.
  5. ^ "Halyard sets record for quietest vessel". Boating Business. 1 July 2004. Retrieved 12 November 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ a b c d Kinver, Mark (27 February 2007). "Tuning in to the song of the Whale". BBC News. Retrieved 12 November 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ European Cetacean Bycatch Campaign (6 June 2004). "Bond star launches whale research ship". Retrieved 4 December 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ Ramage, Patrick (27 March 2014). "A tale of two whale ships". IFAW. Retrieved 10 April 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ "IFAW research vessel to study endangered whales in U.S. waters". PR Newswire/IFAW. Retrieved 12 November 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ Marston, James (11 March 2009). "Our battle for giants of the deep". Ipswich Star (UK). Retrieved 12 November 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

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