FIFTEEN scientists will leave Newcastle next month aboard the CSIRO research ship Southern Surveyor to investigate the potential for underwater landslides to trigger tsunamis along Australia's east coast.
The ship is one of several eye-catching vessels stopping over in Newcastle on the way to locations around the globe.
The Southern Surveyor is refuelling and undergoing maintenance at Forgacs dockyard at Carrington in preparation for its departure on November 5.
University of Newcastle researcher Ron Boyd will lead the team, which will survey the continental slope between northern NSW and the Sunshine Coast.
Built in 1972 as a North Sea fishing trawler, the Southern Surveyor was commissioned by the CSIRO in 1990.
Despite its age, the ship is Australia's only dedicated research vessel.
"It's the best handling ship on the coast," Captain Ian Taylor said.
"The best thing about being captain of this ship is that your cargo are scientists. The whole crew take an interest in their work."
Also at Forgacs dockyard is the fish-carrying vessel Arctic Bear.
The vessel called into Newcastle for repairs, on its way from Canada to Hobart.
The $50 million super yacht Perini Navi Squall also remains in the port undergoing maintenance.
Mystery surrounds the vessel's owner, who is believed to be an Italian businessman.