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RV Petrel, or R/V Petrel (IMO: 9268629, MMSI: 235102789),[2] is a 76.45-metre (250.8 ft) research vessel owned by the estate of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. The ship is named after the sea bird petrel. In 2016, Allen purchased the offshore service vessel formerly named Seven Petrel from Subsea 7, a subsea engineering, construction and services company. In 2017, the ship completed an extensive retrofitting to become a deep submergence research vessel. It is the only privately-owned vessel in the world equipped to explore 6,000 m (19,685 ft) depths. It also serves as a testing bed for new deep sea equipment that has never been deployed on any other ship.[3]

RV Petrel in Surigao City after her 2018 retrofit in Singapore.jpg
RV Petrel arrives in Surigao City on 11 July 2018, from Singapore.
  • RV Petrel
  • Seven Petrel (2013–2016)
  • Acergy Petrel (2007–2013)
  • Seaway Petrel (2003–2007)
Owner: The estate of Paul Allen
Port of registry:  Isle of Man
Builder: Fincantieri, Brattvåg[1]
Launched: 19 December 2002
Christened: 2003
Completed: 23 April 2003
Acquired: c. 2015 – c. 10
General characteristics
Type: Research vessel
Tonnage: 3,371 GT
Length: 76.45 m (250 ft 10 in)
Beam: 15 m (49 ft 3 in)
Draft: 7.465 m (24 ft 5.9 in)
Speed: 11.5 knots (21.3 km/h)
Crew: 20 marine crew and 10 project crew


The primary mission of the ship, which is fully funded by Allen's estate, is to explore historically significant wrecks at challenging depths and conditions. A precondition set by Allen is for discovered wrecks to be respected as war graves and their locations kept secret but known only to national governments and museums. In the nationally-televised PBS documentary USS Indianapolis Live from the Deep, Allen said, "We've done a number of these explorations to try to find sunken warships. We try to do these both as really exciting examples of underwater archaeology and as tributes to the brave men that went down on these ships."[4] Petrel while at dock sometimes conducts walking tours and serves as an educational platform for students and children. Petrel's other mission profile includes hosting scientific projects under Allen's mother company, Vulcan Inc.

Collaborative workEdit

RV Petrel coordinates all its exploration with different organizations around the world. For United States Navy wrecks, Petrel collaborates with the Naval History and Heritage Command. In the Philippines, the crew works with the National Museum and the Battle of Surigao Strait Memorial Council.[5] In 2018, Petrel worked with Australian National Maritime Museum to explore HMAS AE1. Robert Kraft, who serves as Subsea Director for Allen, and Paul Mayer, Petrel's Lead Researcher traveled to Japan to hand over ROV video of Imperial Japanese Navy wrecks to the Yamato Museum.


Before Petrel, the project crew was aboard Allen's Octopus operating the mega yacht's manned-submersible Pagoo, Argus 3000 remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) and Bluefin 12D autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV).

The 20 marine crew and 10 project crew work on 12-hour shifts aboard Petrel. The project crew consists of Kraft the expedition leader, Mayer as lead researcher, 4 ROV pilots and technicians, 1 AUV specialist, 1 multi-beam surveyor, 1 videographer and 1 systems support engineer.

For each expedition, Petrel invites local historians, scientists and observers to complement the project crew.[6]

Crew expeditions in 2015 aboard OctopusEdit

Ironbottom Sound expeditionEdit

The team, while onboard Octopus, mapped 380 square miles (980 km2) of Ironbottom Sound in January 2015, identified 29 wreck locations, 7 wreck debris fields, and several possible plane locations. Of the 29 wrecks located, six were positively identified and confirmed to be USS Astoria, Quincy, Vincennes, Northampton, Atlanta, and HMAS Canberra. Eleven wrecks were "tentatively" identified to be USS Walke, the Japanese destroyer Ayanami, USS De Haven, the Japanese destroyers Yūdachi, Fubuki, USS Laffey, USS Monssen, USS Barton, USS Cushing, USS Little, and USS Preston. The identification using the sonar imagery with vessel measurements and historical records is pending confirmation by ROV exploration. The remaining 12 wreck locations were not identified during the expedition and would require further study.[7]


After several years of searching, the same team discovered the Japanese battleship Musashi in March 2015. This discovery made news headlines around the world.[8]

HMS Hood bell recoveryEdit

In August 2015, the team recovered the bell of HMS Hood after obtaining license from the UK Ministry of Defense. The recovery of the bell was performed upon the request of the HMS Hood Association. Only three of HMS Hood's crew survived and it was the wish of one of them to recover ship's bell as a memorial to shipmates. The bell from HMS Hood was unveiled by the Princess Royal on 24 May 2016 to mark the 75th anniversary of the Royal Navy's largest loss of life (1,415 sailors) from a single vessel.[9][10]

Malta wreck mappingEdit

Bluefin 12 AUV mapping of seabed around Malta

While onboard Octopus, the project crew deployed a Bluefin 12D AUV and mapped 630 km2 (243 sq mi) of seabed around Malta in September 2015. Sonar images of shipwrecks, several aircraft, torpedoes and debris field were captured by the AUV.

Ship detailsEdit

Following the Musashi discovery and the Hood expedition in 2015, Allen bought Petrel in 2016 to become a dedicated research and exploration platform. After a 2016–2017 retrofit, Petrel is now equipped with state-of-the-art technology and the latest systems integration to allow deep-sea search. The vessel now has a 6,000-metre (19,685 ft) depth-capable remotely-operated underwater vehicle and an autonomous underwater vehicle, and a multibeam echo-sounder. It also has dynamic positioning capability that allows the vessel to stay in station for ROV operations.

Argus 6000 ROVEdit

RV Petrel has an Argus 80 kW/107HP free flying work class ROV with a 100 kg (220 lb) payload capability, and has the following features: 750 kg horizontal thrust, station hold facility, sonar feature based navigation mode, various manipulator configurations from two Schilling T4, one Schilling Orion 7P, one Rigmaster 5 function, Zip pump, sticky feet, six-inch (150 mm) jaws of life, and a 38 mm Webtool with intensifier. She is tethered with an armored 17-mm-thick cable. Recently, the ROV was mounted with an R2Sonic MBES.

Remus 6000 AUVEdit

The Remus 6000 AUV is 28 in (711 mm) in diameter AUV, capable of speeds of up to 5 knots (9 km/h; 6 mph), and has a typical mission duration of up to 22 hours. It is rated to dive up to 6,000 m depth, normally flies 100 m (328 ft) above the seabed, scans 1,000 m (3,281 ft) on each side, and can map from 100 to 150 square kilometers (39 to 58 sq mi) during each deployment. It is the only privately owned REMUS 6000 AUV in the world.

Multibeam Echosounder (MBES)Edit

The echosounder package aboard RV Petrel consists of one Kongsberg EM710 hull-mounted multibeam system, one Kongsberg EA600 hull-mounted singlebeam system, one ROV-mounted BlueView M450 2D multibeam imaging sonar, and one EdgeTech 2205 AUV-mounted sidescan array (75/230 kHz with interometric bathymetry). A R2Sonic MBES was recently added to Petrel's ROV.

DP2 ClassEdit

RV Petrel's electric motors enable it to hold station over a wreck. She has four DGPS, one HiPAP 502, one HiPAP 102, two SeaPath 200, two Standard Gyro, and one fanbeam. She is classified as a Dynamic Positioning Vessel 2 (DP2).

Power and propulsionEdit

The ship has four Mitsubishi S16R-MPTK diesel engines, totaling 6,760 kW (9,065 hp) and driving four ABB AMG 500M4 auxiliary electric generators, generating 6,400 kW (8,583 hp). These in turn power the five thrusters: two aft fixed azimuth at 2,000 kW (2,682 hp) each, one forward retractable azimuth at 1,000 kW (1,341 hp), and two forward fixed tunnel at 1,000 kW each.

Petrel expeditions in 2017Edit


Petrel found the Italian Regia Marina World War II destroyer Artigliere in March 2017.[11]

USS IndianapolisEdit

Petrel found USS Indianapolis in August 2017.[12] One of the most elusive shipwrecks in history, Indianapolis was finally located on 19 August 2017 at a depth of 5,500 m (18,000 ft) in the Philippine Sea. The discovery became headline news around the world and introduced Petrel as Paul Allen's newest addition to his expedition fleet. Kraft said of the elusive Indianapolis, "We did 18 search grids, each one is about a 120 square kilometers and that took us the course of a couple of months. It was about 26 days of searching."[4]

The Indianapolis wreck is upright with her hull and armaments intact and well preserved in the depth. Her bow number 35 was seen by the ROV. Rusticles or oxidized wrought iron were found by the crew emerging from one of the main guns of the ship.[13]

Surigao StraitEdit

After discovering USS Indianapolis, Petrel sailed to Surigao City in October 2017 to participate in the 73rd commemoration of the Battle of Surigao Strait.[14] In November 2017 after getting the nod from the Philippines' National Museum, Petrel surveyed Surigao Strait and discovered the wrecks of the Japanese battleships Yamashiro, Fusō, destroyers Michishio, Yamagumo and Asagumo. Each one was investigated by the ship's ROV and an onboard local historian confirmed the identity of the wreck.[15]

Ormoc Bay and USS WardEdit

In December 2017, Petrel explored Ormoc Bay and discovered the wrecks of USS Ward, USS Cooper, the Japanese destroyer Shimakaze and what is believed to be two Yūgumo-class destroyers. The discovery of the wreck of USS Ward was a central theme for the 76th commemoration of the Attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December.[16]

Petrel expeditions in 2018Edit

Return to Ormoc BayEdit

In early January 2018, Petrel returned to Ormoc Bay and dived one of the Yūgumo-class destroyers found in 2017. Based on the 127 mm (5 in) guns and armament configuration, she was identified to be Hamanami. The identification also validated the final resting places of the other ships of the lost Japanese convoy TA-4: the destroyers Shimakaze, Wakatsuki and Naganami. The convoy was attacked by aircraft from Task Force 38 in the Battle of Ormoc Bay. Petrel and Octopus also dove their manned submersible Pagoo on USS Cooper.

C-2A Greyhound in the Philippine SeaEdit

In February 2018, Petrel, with a US Navy team aboard, located and mapped the wreckage of a C-2A Greyhound aircraft that crashed into the Philippine Sea en route to USS Ronald Reagan on 22 November 2017.[17]

USS Lexington in the Coral SeaEdit

On 4 March 2018, Petrel explored the Coral Sea and discovered the wreck of the aircraft carrier USS Lexington which sank during the Battle of the Coral Sea.[18]

USS JuneauEdit

On 17 March 2018, Petrel located the wreck of the anti-aircraft light cruiser USS Juneau. Juneau was sunk by the Japanese submarine I-26 in the aftermath of the first Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, sinking with the loss of 687 men, which included the five Sullivan brothers.[19][20]

USS HelenaEdit

On 11 April 2018, Petrel located the wreck of the light cruiser USS Helena. Helena was sunk during the Battle of Kula Gulf in 1943 by three torpedoes fired from a Japanese destroyer with a loss of 168 of her crew.[21]


The Royal Australian Navy's submarine HMAS AE1 which was lost at sea with all hands on 14 September 1914, and only discovered in December 2017 on the seafloor off the Duke of York Islands in Papua New Guinea (PNG), was visited by Petrel's ROV. Petrel's crew devised a close-up camera to view details inside the torpedo tube and engine telegraph. This exploration published on 23 April 2018, was supervised by Find AE1 Ltd in partnership with the Australian National Maritime Museum, the Royal Australian Navy, Curtin University, the Western Australian Museum and the Submarine Institute of Australia. The approval for the survey was granted by Papua New Guinea National Museum and Art Gallery.

Petrel expeditions in 2019Edit


Petrel found the wreck of the Japanese destroyer Niizuki wreck upright in 745 m (2,444 ft) of water in January 2019. While the wreck was heavily damaged, her mast is still attached and complete. The find of Niizuki was noteworthy because she was credited for sinking USS Strong with the longest torpedo shot ever with estimates ranging from 7 to 11 nautical miles (13 to 20 km; 8.1 to 12.7 mi).[22]


In February 2019, the Japanese cruiser Jintsū's wreckage was discovered by Petrel near the mouth of Kula Gulf in the Solomon Islands. The broken cruiser rests in 900 m (3,000 ft) of water. Her bow section is lying on her port side and the stern section is upright.[23]


On 6 February 2019, the discovery of the battleship Japanese battleship Hiei was announced, the first Japanese battleship sunk in World War II. According to Petrel, Hiei now lies upside down in 900 m (3,000 ft) of water northwest of Savo Island in the Solomon Islands. Hiei is the fourth Japanese battleship found by Petrel's crew. The Japanese battleship Musashi was found in March 2015, and the Fusō-class battleships Fusō and Yamashiro were found in November 2017. Petrel was also able to survey another Kongō-class battlecruiser, Kirishima, in a separate mission. Lead researcher Paul Mayer said that Hiei lies 4 nautical miles (7.4 km; 4.6 mi) away from Kirishima.[24]

USS HornetEdit

On 12 February 2019, the crew announced they had located the wreck of the aircraft carrier USS Hornet at a depth of more than 17,700 ft (5,400 m) off the Solomon Islands.[25] She is in remarkably good condition. She sits right-side up with her island still in place. A portion of her flight deck has collapsed due to the fire that raged on her decks during the battle. A portion of her stern is torn away, but the hull remains mostly intact. Several aircraft are scattered among the wreck.

USS StrongEdit

On 26 February 2019, the crew announced they had located the wreck of the destroyer, USS Strong resting at a depth of 1,000 feet (300 m). The wreck is still being surveyed.[26]

USS WaspEdit

On 13 March 2019, the crew announced they had located the wreck of the aircraft carrier, USS Wasp resting at a depth of 13,800 feet (4,200 m). The wreck is still being surveyed.[27]


On 4 May 2019, the crew announced they had located the wreck of the Japanese heavy cruiser Furutaka at a depth of 1,400 m (4,600 ft). She lies in two sections, with the bow sitting near the main part of the wreck, which is upright and the bridge is about 600 m (2,000 ft) away.[28]


On 1 July 2019, it was announced that the wreck of the Japanese cruiser Maya had been found off the coast of the Philippine island of Palawan. She is mostly intact, with the exception of her forward bow which broke off and is lying upside down just astern of the rest of the ship. Her bridge and her guns are also intact. She lies in 1,850 m (6,070 ft) of water.[29]


On 9 September 2019, it was announced that the wreck of the Japanese cruiser Mogami had been found in the Bohol Sea. She lies mostly intact, with the exception of her forward bow, which has been blown off, by lying near by. She sits straight side up at a depth of 1,450 m (4,760 ft).[30]


  1. ^ "Seaway Petrel (04/2003)". Maritimt Magasin. 10 April 2003.
  2. ^ "Vessel details for: PETREL (Research/Survey Vessel) - IMO 9268629, MMSI 235102789, Call Sign 2HDR6 Registered in United Kingdom | AIS Marine Traffic". Archived from the original on 10 December 2017. Retrieved 9 December 2017. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  3. ^ Haun, Eric (17 October 2017). "The Quest to Find and Explore USS Indianapolis". Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  4. ^ a b "USS Indianapolis LIVE - From the Deep | PBS". USS Indianapolis LIVE - From the Deep | PBS. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  5. ^ News, ABS-CBN. "Explorers who found wreck of world's biggest battleship get National Museum nod". ABS-CBN News. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  6. ^ News, ABS-CBN. "Explorers who found wreck of world's biggest battleship get National Museum nod". ABS-CBN News. Archived from the original on 13 December 2017. Retrieved 14 December 2017. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  7. ^ News, Ocean. "May Feature Story | Featured Stories". ONT.
  8. ^ Group, The Superyacht. "M/Y Octopus finds the Musashi – SuperyachtNews". Superyacht News. Archived from the original on 10 December 2017. Retrieved 10 December 2017. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  9. ^ "Princess Royal formally unveils bell of HMS Hood on 75th anniversary". Mail Online. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
  10. ^ "500". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 10 December 2017. Retrieved 10 December 2017. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  11. ^ "Sunken World War II Italian warship Artigliere located and explored for first time". Fox News. 6 June 2017. Archived from the original on 20 August 2017. Retrieved 9 December 2017. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  12. ^ CNN, Emanuella Grinberg,. "USS Indianapolis wreckage found 72 years later". CNN. Archived from the original on 4 December 2017. Retrieved 9 December 2017. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  13. ^ "PBS Broadcast Shows USS Indianapolis is a 'Well Preserved' Hull – USNI News". USNI News. 14 September 2017. Archived from the original on 14 September 2017. Retrieved 14 December 2017. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  14. ^ "Philippines :: Topic: joint exploration of the Surigao Strait wrecks wit (1/1)". Archived from the original on 15 December 2017. Retrieved 9 December 2017. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  15. ^ "Remembering the Forgotten Fleet". The Philippines Graphic. 4 December 2017. Archived from the original on 10 December 2017. Retrieved 9 December 2017. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  16. ^ "R/V Petrel Explores Wreck of USS Ward; Fired First American Shot of WWII".
  17. ^ "U.S. Navy mapped the wreckage of C-2A Greyhound that crashed into the Ocean". Retrieved 5 March 2018.
  18. ^ "VIDEO: Billionaire Paul Allen Finds Lost World War II Carrier USS Lexington". 5 March 2018.
  19. ^ "Sunken USS Juneau Famous for the Sullivan Brothers Discovered on St. Patrick's Day". Vulcan Inc. 19 March 2018. Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  20. ^ LaGrone, Sam (19 March 2018). "Paul Allen Finds Sullivan Brothers' Cruiser USS Juneau". USNI News. U.S. Naval Institute. Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  21. ^ "USS Helena Discovered: A Story of Valor and Perseverance". 11 April 2018. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  22. ^ "RV Petrel". Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  23. ^ "RV Petrel". Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  24. ^ "RV Petrel". Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  25. ^ "Wreckage of World War II aircraft carrier USS Hornet discovered". 12 February 2019. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  26. ^ "Lost in 1943, the USS Strong is found again by Paul Allen's Petrel research vessel". GeekWire. 25 February 2019.
  27. ^ "Paul G. Allen Expedition Discovers the Sunken USS Wasp and Her Aircraft". 13 March 2019.
  28. ^[0]=68.ARCMc84JXu1HXJutCRC8KkBfjwDbODJ47xdU6pf9KG_3usY-UxmY2cW6vk4WTbGI9GVyNryn4VsO1iLI73c2CoW479jxDZDrDtRQsHLnMMPi80i0uDLEabD3SIty6EEhKy9sOOYClkuDcWk-jcLJdPwWSCanihKi8DnViWRB63DBYdhVeSvR0egoJ6iwmXlBDZjxn5zLK3xOqqWMDrUOii8O6YNyjefRJpfAyH63JZ0l7BPVOH0wC2AiNTFMbRFSg5seq0MYXtYRhv9de676MGOX1c-P79EEfYvnfd0NXCPhnXebUh_EeCG9umHkTqcntpR_pWZSWMO0ioGzvqak6dbMnNlU2tQ2Us9tYlNo8Lakj7o285lQtto_uVEQfjXNKDUU33SanxPEa-emOr-DrC6_yV1IR13fntKa_T4OrVQeQG8Snflv16laAUM0yNH4JkfQhwBEhG1q1YRW31YN&__tn__=-R
  29. ^ [1]
  30. ^ [2]

External linksEdit

  Media related to Petrel (ship, 2003) at Wikimedia Commons