The aluminum vessel’s twin engine design makes her highly maneuverable. A 5-foot draft and 19-foot vertical clearance allow work in many areas inaccessible to larger vessels. The flexible layout of her deck area, spacious pilothouse, and below-deck laboratory can accommodate a variety of endeavors and a full range of equipment. A 3000-watt inverter allows operation in silent mode for hydrophone work. Even with engines running, noise levels are low, creating a suitable environment for lectures and demonstrations. Steps leading to a transom well and a water-level swim platform facilitate diving operations. A heated cabin and freshwater shower further add to diver safety and comfort. Features such as a 6,000-pound static load capacity hydraulic U-frame and two hydraulic winches help researchers deploy a variety of scientific equipment.
The Gulf Challenger is classified as a US Coast Guard inspected small passenger vessel under subchapter T. She can carry up to 39 passengers on shorter trips in the local waters near her homeport at the Judd Gregg Marine Research Complex in New Castle NH. She is available to smaller groups of scientists for investigations of New England waters, on cruises generally lasting up to 12 hours. The vessel is not available for multi-day overnight trips currently. However, to extend her range the vessel may tie up in a host port overnight with crew and science party staying in shore side accommodations.