Australia has officially taken possession of its new $122 million marine research vessel, Investigator, but almost 12 months later than scheduled.
Billed as a game-changer for marine research, RV Investigator was expected to be completed last September and be operational by March.
Now the new CSIRO ship is expected to arrive in Hobart in mid-September, where it will be fitted with research equipment worth $6.7 million.
A series of delays saw the ship remain longer than expected in its Singapore shipyards, and those setbacks have impacted upon the CSIRO's 2014 research program.
Project head Toni Moate, who was in Singapore to "pick up the keys", said the delay was within normal expectations for a build of its size.
"This is a one-off build, it's really complicated and it's a unique design," she said, speaking to the ABC from the vessel.
"Along the way, there's been some issues that have arisen. But what I can say is we've worked with [contractor] Teekay, we've worked with the [Sembawang] Shipyard and we've resolved those to our mutual best interest," she said.
"So we've had to work hard.
"At the end of the day it's really the quality of the ship as a floating research platform that's of most interest to the scientists.
"You have to be on the Investigator to get some sense of how enormous it is and the scale of the operation."Budget cuts to limit Investigator's potential
CSIRO scientists have been without a blue-water research ship since the Southern Surveyor was mothballed in December.
"While there were some disappointed people, the community has been incredibly understanding about the need not to take delivery until we were satisfied that we were going to be able to deliver ... to support their science for the next 30 years," Ms Moate said.
The ship's arrival has been much anticipated in Tasmania, even before funding cuts resulted in dozens of job losses at the Hobart marine division.
The Government slashed $110 million from the CSIRO budget in May, but quarantined $65 million to operate the new ship over the next four years.
The new vessel has the capacity to travel 10,000 nautical miles in one voyage and spend 300 days a year at sea.
But this year's federal budget funding allowed for only 180 sea days a year.
"That's a challenge, but in the context of a tough budget, around 180 days is a very welcome announcement," Ms Moate said.A 'vital addition' to Australian science
Labor Senator Kim Carr, who oversaw the project when federal science minister, said the delays caused by disputes with shipbuilders did not concern him.
"There has been some issues with the dockyard ... they have also been disputes about the actual construction process to make sure it meets specifications," he said.
Senator Carr said the the ship's arrival was vital to marine and other research.
However, he said it was crucial for the ship to be funded to meet its full potential.
"It is vital, this research - from fisheries though to oil and gas, this is about understanding climate change.
"It is a critical part of the future prosperity of the nation.
"I'm looking forward to vessel being funded properly for the full 300 days."
In a statement, Industry Minister Ian McFarlane said the Federal Government had confidence in the CSIRO's handling of the project and defended the operational funding.
"The $65 million for the operation of the RV Investigator is a significant investment in scientific research at a time when all parts of the community and all sectors of government have to contribute to the repair of Labor's debt and deficit disaster," he said.
The handover has had several setbacks.
It was first due at the beginning of the year and then was expected to sail from Singapore in May.
Milestones in the construction have been marked with much fanfare.
It was officially named in September but with more setbacks a "welcome to port" celebration planned in Hobart for the New Year had to be postponed.
In February, an official update on the Marine National Facility website said there had been more construction delays but they had always been a possibility because "we are building a highly sophisticated ocean research platform".
In May, the CSIRO said the ship was ready to sail.
Chief executive Megan Clark told staff it was undergoing sea trials in Singapore while "final commercial details on the contract" were being finalised.A ship to revolutionise marine science
With the handover completed, the ship is due to start research work next year.
The CSIRO Staff Association's Sam Popovski welcomed the milestone but said the eventual arrival would be bittersweet.
"We have got another approximately 60 jobs going from the CSIRO in Hobart, so even though CSIRO has committed to using the new vessel, it is not using it to capacity and there is a reduced amount of staff in Hobart that are able to access it to do their research," he said.
"We've got an exciting new ship with all this capacity yet we've been scrambling to find the funds from government and other sources to actually run it when it gets here.
"I think the disappointment from staff's perspective is the lack of operational funding and the need for stopgap funding to just actually work the ship, and that's been the downside of this whole story."
The 94-metre long state-of-the-art ship is expected to revolutionise Australia's marine science capabilities.
Investigator's predecessor, Southern Surveyor, could only sail to 50 degrees south.
While not an icebreaker, Investigator can go right to the Antarctic ice edge.
A 1.7 tonne radar will enable scientists to source long range weather data, while other equipment will allow them to explore up to six kilometres below the surface.
The ship can accommodate up to 40 scientists studying at sea at once on voyages lasting several months.
The 66-metre Southern Surveyor was originally a fishing boat, unlike its custom-built replacement, and could only accommodate 15 scientists.
It was sold in December for $270,000 to an Indian company which wanted to use it as a piracy guard vessel off Africa.