The Australian Government has announced it will build a new blue-water marine research vessel to replace the Southern Surveyor, using $120m from funds released in its federal budget last week.

The new vessel will allow Australian and overseas research organisations to perform oceanographic, geo-scientific, fishery and ecosystem research activities, the government has announced.

The Southern Surveyor, which has been helping in marine research in Australia since 2003, will be 40 years old in 2011. Over the course of four years, about $29.6m will be spent to operate and maintain the old vessel.

The new vessel, to be operated by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, will be ready in three years and will spend 300 days a year at sea.

By staff writer