Research Ship Management Group

The Research Ship Management Group are responsible for operational management and maintenance of the two mutli-disciplinary research vessels RRS James Cook and RRS Discovery. Both operate world-wide and year round, supporting NERC funded marine science. The RRS James Cook is a modern research vessel delivered to NERC in 2006, while the RRS Discovery is nearly 50 years old and will be replaced in 2013 by a new vessel.

Marine Operations

Marine Operations support the two Oceanographic research ships RRS James Cook and RRS Discovery on a day to day basis – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – to ensure the vessels continue in the delivery of science, and are where they are supposed to be at a given date. The Marine Operations team provide assistance to the ships for logistics (fuel, stores and services), marine staff travel, cruise documentation, statutory regulations and port arrangements in conjunction with the Marine Facilities Programme. They also provide support to the scientific community in the compilation of Diplomatic Clearances, travel arrangements and embarkation arrangements.

The team have to be dynamic and flexible to manage when arrangements are changed at short notice, which can happen for a variety of reasons. In April 2010, the volcanic ash cloud caused by the erupting Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull. At that point, a full crew change was planned, with 23 marine staff flying out to the ship and 23 flying home, along side a full compliment of scientists/technicians. This event completely out of anyone’s control resulted in a rapid change of plans, with the port calls were changed, flights cancelled and rebooked and hotels bookings changed in various countries. All of this was successfully completed and the ship continued on its way without losing any scientific research time. The team have to be flexible as there is always a great deal going on in the office. This tight knit group are key to enabling the ships to deliver the science on time and where they are supposed to be.

Marine Engineering

The main goal for the Marine Engineering team is to maximise the availability of our ships for Science, while at the same time ensuring the ships are being operated safely and efficiently within the requirements of Statutory and Classification rules and regulations. In order to achieve this we work closely together with the Chief Engineers on board, planning, preparing and managing dry dock and refit projects, as well as supplying the vessels with required service support, spare parts and consumables throughout the year. We are also continuously working closely together with NMFSS colleagues to improve and modify our ships fitted equipment to improve their suitability for science.

Environment and law

The marine environment is one of the most heavily regulated in the world.  This partly has its roots in law and regulations developed in response to maritime incidents and disasters such as Titantic and the Herald of Free Enterprise, but also in delineation of areas of sea claimed by sovereign states.  More recently regulations and laws designed to protect the marine environment have also become extremely important.



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