• Image showing our pontoon with both vessels and a dive boat tied up during late autumn with snowy mountains
    Our vessels:
    for research, teaching and charter
    on our dedicated pontoon outside SAMS

SAMS research vessels

Throughout our history we have been served by a range of vessels to conduct marine research.

Our research vessels since 1882

Nowadays, a small fleet of research vessels provide our scientists and students with direct access to the range of oceanographic environments on our door step: from sea lochs, the Firth of Lorne and Sound of Mull, the Inner and Outer Hebrides, sites in the Clyde to the continental shelf and deep waters beyond.

SAMS operates two research vessels, the larger RV Calanus and the RV Seòl Mara which are moored at their dedicated pontoon adjacent to the Institute. Both vessels - as well as a range of equipment and services - are available for charter. We can offer anchorage facilities for small to medium-sized vessels in the neighbouring Dunstaffnage Bay.

Calanus and Seòl Mara are capable of deploying a range of sampling gear for hydrographic, biological and chemical parameters including sediment corers, dredges, CTD, water samplers, towed samplers and acoustic devices as well as more specialised equipment. Calanus is equipped with multibeam sonar and side-scan and video technology for seafloor investigations.

The vessels are operated by an experienced crew capable of deploying the technology and supporting sampling, diving and instrumentation.


For commercial customers we can complete bespoke project packages to include data collection, analysis and report writing.

SRSL team for quotes and charter bookings: info@srsl.com  or  T: +44 (0) 1631 559 470

Ships' Operations Manager for technical enquiries: Sarah Reed

Sideways photo of our larger research vessel CalanusR.V. Calanus is a 20m general purpose research vessels for inshore waters. She has a passage speed of nine knots and is suitable for trawling and benthic sampling, as well as hydrographic and acoustic surveys. She has a spacious afterdeck, a wet and dry laboratory, a scientific plot room and accommodation comprising a galley, mess and three twin cabins for overnight charters. She is filled with a Reson SeaBat 8124 multi-beam and analysis software as well as side-scan capabilities.

Calanus - named after the most important zooplankton genus in the North Atlantic - has a day capacity for 12 plus crew and overnight capacity for six plus crew. The crew comprise of a master, bosun, motorman and cook/deckhand. All have considerable experience in scientific work. RV Calanus has recently been modified with railing, seating and curtaining on top of the wheelhouse to enable bird and mammal observations.

She has undertaken research cruises in the northern end of the Irish Sea, Loch Ness, the Inner and Outer Hebrides and  the Shetland Isles. She is capable of working most inshore areas of the east and west coasts of Scotland, including the sea lochs.

R.V. Calanus was designed for SAMS by G.L. Watson (Naval Architects) Ltd. She was built in 1980 of West Afrikan iroko on teak frames by J. Hinks of Appledore in Devon.  She was designed as a general purpose research vessel for inshore waters.


Main laboratory (6.5m x 2m)

The benching is railed for palletisation as is the deck beneath. All benching is demountable apart from a corner sink unit. In total there is nearly 10m of continuous bench space. Stocking units up to 2m high can easily be accommodated and side rails allow easy fixing. Storage space is provided in a large walk-in locker. There is a hatch communicating with the wet lab. Electrical power is provided through four twin 13A, 240V sockets.

Wet laboratory (2m x 1.9m)

A freezer (10 ft3) is provided in this lab for scientific use. There is a large sink unit (twin sinks) with hot and cold freshwater and a direct seawater supply from the ship's sea water intake (ca 2m below the water line). Stainless steel benching (2.5m) is fitted and a demountable wooden work surface (3m) is supplied to enable the laboratory to be used as a dry laboratory.

Plot (2.5m x 3m)

This space is suitable for housing electronic equipment. There is approximately 3.5m of benching. Electrical power is provided via two twin, 13A 240V sockets. There is direct access to the upper working deck.


Accomodation is provided for six scientists in three twin cabins. Two of these are equipped with a sink and hot and cold water. Two shower and toilet compartments are shared with the officers. For day running only, Calanus has capacity for 12 extra persons, provided that adequate notice is given in advance.

A well equipped galley serves hot meals during working days. The mess also provides accommodation for relaxation, with comfortable bench settee seating, colour television and DVD player. The vessel is heated throughout by oil fired central heating.

Specification sheet RV Calanus

Sidways photo of our small research vessel Seol MaraDesigned in 1972, Seòl Mara is a 10.4m general purpose research vessel, well suited to use in confided upper reaches of sea lochs or shallow inshore waters.

She has a large open afterdeck (6m x 4m) with removable aft rail section (width 1.25m) to allow easy deployment of large gear or easy access of divers over the side. There is a bench area in the wheelhouse (1m x 0.6 m) for covered scientific working, and a covered dry hold area, which provides storage and mounting space for equipment, is accessible through a hatch (1.2m x 1.2m). There is a small galley and life-raft available.

Seòl Mara has capacity for 8 passengers and is operated by a crew experienced in scientific operations.

There are no sleeping facilities on board. Limited hot lunches and drinks are provided from a small galley.

Specification sheet RV Seol Mara

SAMS incorporates a diving centre and an active group of scientific divers.

Diving is conducted from the R.V. Calanus, R.V. Seol Mara, and from two RIBs and a Dory.

The newest dive boat came into operation in spring 2017: Glaucus is a six-metre RIB and fully MCA coded to take four passengers and crew. Glaucus can be transported by road. Our second fully MCA coded RIB is the Tritonia.