The 50-foot R/V Gulf Challenger is the flagship of the UNH's School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering. Her cruising speed of 18 knots makes her the fastest and most capable research vessel of this size in the area, giving researchers more time to spend on station and less time in transit. Operating up to 100 miles offshore year round in the waters of the Gulf of Maine and beyond, she is the ideal platform for a large variety of estuarine and coastal research work and educational activities
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 2500-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 Hydraulic A-frame and two hydraulic winches help researchers deploy a variety of scientific equipment.
A U.S. Coast Guard inspected vehicle, she is capable of carrying 39 passengers on day trips and 6 scientists on overnight cruises. The R/V Gulf Challenger is based at the Judd Gregg Marine Research Complex, also home to its captain and first mate.