Research Vessel Heincke

At nearly 55 metres in length, RV Heincke is the second largest ship in the AWI fleet. At sea for more than 250 days a year, the ship provides accommodation and work facilities for up to twelve scientists.

The Heincke generally operates in the North Sea and in the North Atlantic. In the summer months, the vessel visits the Norwegian island of Svalbar. With an operating radius of about 4,000 nautical miles, the RV Heincke can facilitate research cruises of up to 30 days at sea.

National and international marine scientists utilize the RV Heincke for biological, geoscientific and hydrographic research projects. The ship is well equipped for its work, fitted with two cranes, an A-Boom, four-drum winches, an extensive array of scientific instrumentation and systems for data processing.

Below deck, the scientists are afforded four laboratories – allowing for inspection and analysis of samples under wet, dry, and specific temperature conditions.

The laboratories meet and exceed many modern standards, being well aligned with the multidisciplinary nature of marine research, and were specifically designed to provide excellent acoustic attenuation from the vibration of the ship’s engines.

Originally entering service in 1990, the RV Heincke was extensively overhauled from December 2007 to March 2009, providing both technical and scientific equipment updates. In 2014, new engines were fitted and an emission control system installed.

The RV Heincke bears the name of Friedrich Heincke, the founding director of the "Royal Biological Institute Helgoland". The "Biologische Anstalt Helgoland", originally founded in 1892, became part of the Alfred Wegener Institute in 1998.


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Namesake: Friedrich Heincke

Prof. Dr. Friedrich Heincke came from Mecklenburg. As a zoologist he examined the fish fauna in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. He had studied his field in Rostock and Leipzig. An assistant's place in the zoological museum followed in Kiel and the work as an  teacher in Kiel and Oldenburg. Heincke was an employee of the Prussian commission for the scientific investigation of the seas and works for the German sea fish association before he became founding director of the "royal biological Institute of Helgoland". He was engaged in different commissions in the exploration of the sea – among the rest, the research vessel Heincke of the AWI is named after him.

During nearly 30 years he led the "royal biological Institute of Helgoland". Heincke later became chairperson of the German scientific commission for the exploration of the sea. He co-founded the international organisation for exploration of the sea and remained a constant delegate. In 1929 Heincke died on the German high-sea island Helgoland in whose waters the research vessel Heincke named after him is on the move.


Heincke on expedition