An Important Research Platform in the Pacific and Indian Ocean

The name SONNE is well known in marine research in Germany. Since 1978 a ship with this name served as an open ocean-going working platform for scientists of different disciplines in all oceans, in particular in the Indian and Pacific Ocean.  After 36 years, the “first” SONNE went out of service in fall 2014. Already in 2009 it had been decided to replace the ship by a new one with the same name.

The keel-laying of the new SONNE took place in April 2013 at the Meyer shipyards in Papenburg, Germany and the first scientific mission started end of 2014. With a total length of 116 metres the SONNE has space for 75 people (amongst them 40 scientists) and 20 containers. Besides four dry labs, two wet labs and two “climate” labs a number of special rooms are available for the research tasks. Even more than its predecessor, the new SONNE fulfils the requirements of different disciplines such as marine geology, geophysics, biology, biogeochemistry or climate research and enables interdisciplinary research at sea. Multiple winches and cranes, amongst them an A-frame at the stern with a capacity of 30 tons, provide the sound basis for the use of large-scale equipment such as the ROV KIEL 6000. The ship’s custom-built hull prevents the formation of bubbles, which can interfere with the mapping of the sea floor by its sonar systems. ­Re-use of water, special waste separation systems and the usage of low emission fuels characterise the new SONNE as a particularly environmentally friendly ship. The ship was financed by the federal government and the five northern German states. The ship is managed by the Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment (ICBM) of the University of Oldenburg and managed by Briese Shipping, located in Leer, Germany.

Cruise schedule RV SONNE: https://www.ldf.uni-hamburg.de/en/sonne.html


    • Owner: Federal Republic of Germany, represented by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
    • Year of construction: 2014
    • Home port: Wilhelmshaven
    • Operator: Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Sea (ICBM) of the University of Oldenburg
    • Tonnage: 8,554 GT
    • Draft: 6.4 m max.
    • Dimensions: Length: 116 m, Width: 20.6 m
    • Maximum speed: 15 kn
    • Operating range: 7,500 nautical miles
    • Time at sea: 50 days
    • Crew: 35 persons | science: 40 persons
    • Facilities for scientific operation: 17 laboratories on different decks with a total of 521 sqm space for multidisciplinary research tasks
  • GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel
    Wischhofstr. 1-3
    D-24148 Kiel
    Tel.: +49-431 600-0
    Fax: +49-431 600-2805
    E-mail: info(at)geomar.de