Delaware Bay Ship Building, Leesburg, N.J., recently delivered the 45'x15'6"x6'4" aluminum research vessel Explorer to Research Vessel Explorer LLC, Rustin Cassway, Cape May, N.J.

With a 58" draft and a deadweight tonnage of 50,000, the new boat was designed, built, and commissioned to be the “best shipwreck exploration vessel for a private client ever made,” said Capt. Rustin Cassway, one of Research Vessel Explorer’s managing partners. “The vessel began with the owners’ concept, the lines were developed by Mike LeMole of LeMole Naval Engineering and then put into 3-D by Stephen Pollard of Specmar.”

The Explorer went from initial welding to completion in under 12 months and is currently engaged in shipwreck exploration on a weekly basis, including working with families to give them closure on the sinking of a submarine in 1920 and working with the U.S. Air Force to find a plane lost in 1962. “Next year, we will be working with some people from Italy on the Andrea Doria site.” (The Italian ocean liner sank in 1956, killing 46 passengers. More than 1,700 passengers were rescued.)

The Explorer’s main propulsion comes from twin Cummins QSM-11 diesel engines, producing 670 hp at 2,300 rpm each. The mains connect to Acme 32"x33" wheels through ZF VEE drives with 2.037:1 reduction ratios. The propulsion package gives the new research vessel a top speed of 27 knots.

For additional maneuverability, the Explorer was fitted with a Kobelt KP10A-H-TH 10" thruster unit.

The steering system is made up of Burkhardt Welding rudders, two Vickers hydraulic pumps, Kobelt rams, and Char Lynn helm. Controls are the responsibility of Glen Denning.

Tankage includes 600 gals. of fuel, 100 gals. water, and 14 gals. hydraulic fluid.

The electronics suite features three Garmin chart plotters, cameras, 48-mile radar, auto pilot, and Zipwake trim tabs.

Ancillary equipment includes Coltri 5000 PSI scuba compressor, Palfinger PC-2300 crane and hydraulic bow winch.

The boat is USCG approved OUPV (six-pact license) and was delivered in June.


Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has written for other publications including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.