RV Guiding Light

Our coastal research vessel enables us to understand marine issues better, from sea level rise through to coastal erosion and management.

The 15m research vessel is equipped to investigate many aspects of the marine environment from the sea floor to the clouds. It carries the latest sonar sea floor imaging suite and an array of probes and other instruments. These allow the investigation of temperature, salinity and other vital elements which help to gain an understanding of the seas.

We engage with a wide range of institutions and organisations in order to bring the importance of the oceans and local marine environment to a wider audience and to work with professional bodies that offer research and career collaborations.

'Guiding Light', our research vessel

Technical features

  • MCA Coding: Category 2 (60 miles from Safe Haven)
  • Dimensions: 11.0m length, 5.0m beam
  • Draught: 1.3m
  • Engines: Twin diesel 330hp Iveco
  • Speed: Up to 20 knots dependant on load
  • Fuel Capacity: 2 x 800 litres
  • Accommodation: Large wheel house, toilet, galley
  • Lifting Gear: Hydraulic A-frame with electrohydraulic spencer carter winch system, complete with 8mm wire rope. (Safe working load is 350 kgs.)

How it helps

The vessel provides a floating platform from which visual observations of the sea and coast can be made. Cliff erosion or a pollution incident for example is often best viewed from the sea.

We support student learning by undertaking a variety of day cruises. Students will undertake a variety of tasks from mapping the sea floor to identifying cloud types while at the same time getting experience of life on-board a small vessel. Where possible the same sites are visited so that a record can be created through time of the same section of the sea. This helps to build a picture and can contribute to our understanding of how the sea and coasts change with time.

Students are taught to use the hydrographic sonars in order to map the sea floor, showing where the deep channel and shallows are and can even show features such as sand waves, wrecks and bed rock type. Much of this information is vital to large ships navigating the Bristol Channel and can be directly related to the buoys seen from the vessel. A day at sea provides much data and information, which is processed ashore in lab sessions and really brings much of the work alive.

A day on Guiding Light can inspire a career as a hydrographic surveyor which is the preferred path for a number of Geography students. Potential employers recognise the unique practical, technical and transferable skills that students acquire during these cruises.