Oceanographic research vessels (ORVs) are used to collect ocean data and analyse them to understand the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of seawater, seabed and other ocean-related factors affecting climate changes. These task require vessel to track a predefined trajectory at different speeds. It is crucial to understand the effect of different speed on manoeuvring characteristics of the ship so as to assign appropriate control parameter and techniques to make its position/track keeping ability to an acceptable level. This paper attempts to estimate hydrodynamic derivatives of ORV by performing planar motion mechanism experiments at different speeds to understand the effect of Froude number on the hydrodynamic forces and subsequently on the different coefficient appearing in equations of motion and then on its turning performance. Sensitivity analysis is carried out as part of current work to understand the effect of different hydrodynamic derivative value variation on different turning parameter of vessel. © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.