NATSUSHIMA was built and began operating as a support ship for SHINKAI 2000 in 1981. After SHINKAI 2000 was retired from service in 2002, NATSUSHIMA was modified and began acting as a support ship for ROV HYPER-DOLPHIN, able to conduct surveys at a maximum depth of 3,000 m.
In addition, the ship can conduct comprehensive surveys and observations of deep sea and trench areas. This can be done by mounting DEEP TOW, towed deep ocean floor survey system that reveals the surface layer topographies, strata topographies and geologic structures of deep-sea bottoms, or by mounting a single channel reflection survey system, a piston core, or a dredge on the vehicle.
- Support research dives of the 3,000 m class ROV, HYPER-DOLPHIN
- Support research dives of the 4,000 m towed deep ocean floor survey system, DEEP TOW
- Seafloor topography surveys
- Structural surveys of the deep-sea bottom
- Sampling of seafloor sediments
- Independent oceanographic surveys, and installation and collection of seismometers, mooring systems, etc.
- Aft wheelhouse
- NATSUSHIMA has an aft wheelhouse that allows the vessel to be piloted while at the same time deploying and recovering HYPER-DOLPHIN from the rear section of the vessel.
- Control room
- The control room is housed within a container that is installed onboard NATSUSHIMA. The room features six large plasma displays that show the high-vision images received from HYPER-DOLPHIN, providing an overwhelming sense of actually being onboard the dive vessel itself.
||5.0 m (incl. sonar dome)
||Approx. 11 knots
||Approx. 10,800 nautical miles
||55 (37 crew, 8 HYPER-DOLPHIN support personnel, 18 research personnel)
|Main propulsion system
||Diesel engines: 625kw × 2
|Main propulsion method
||Controllable pitch propeller × 2