Research Expeditions

Research Expeditions

At any one time scientists and technicians from the UK marine community can be at sea on numerous vessels. This page provides information on the current research expeditions being undertaken by our two Royal Research Ships Discovery and James Cook. Here you can discover where our ships are and what they are aiming to achieve.


Updates from the ships’ Plans of Intended Movement (PIM)


RRS Discovery RRS James Cook

Vessel: Discovery

DTG:   180719  08:00

Zone:   Z+2

Exped: DY105

Subj:   PIM


Pos:  SST Berth No.1, Damen Shipyard, Amsterdam

Wx: Lt Airs. Fine and clear. Sheltered waters


Status: Annual Recertification/Refit/Maintenance

Vessel:  James Cook

DTG:   190719  0700

Zone:   Z+1

Exped: JC184

Subj:   PIM


Pos:  47 30N  012 39W

Co:    DP Auto Pos

Spd:  DP Auto Pos

WX:   WSW x 16Kts, Overcast with showers in vicinity, slight sea and swell.


Status: Conducted No2 CTD AHC trails and Plasma deck reeling trails.


Intentions: Continuation of Winch Trails

Ships’ positions

This map shows the positions of the NOC operated vessels RRS Discovery and RRS James Cook. While every effort is made to keep this map up to date sometimes position updates are not possible.


MARS Portal


Latest Expeditions

RRS James Cook

Cruise Principal scientist & institution Location Duration in days (begins) Aim


Doug Connelly

National Oceanography Centre

Central North Sea

35 days

(April & May)

STEMM-CCS Strategies for the environmental monitoring of marine carbon capture and storage

This cruise is the main experimental cruise of the EC funded €16m project Strategies for the environmental monitoring of marine carbon capture and storage STEMM-CCS. This is a technologically ambition cruise which will place a CO2 tank on the seabed in the North Sea and will use a pre-placed pipe to release the CO2 under the surface sediments. This release will be monitored using AUV, ROV, landers and moorings with an aim to test all of the currently available, and developing technologies, to detect leakage from the seabed of the placed CO2. This experiment, and the whole project aims to increase the confidence the science community and the public have as we move towards using old hydrocarbon reservoirs for CO2 storage to mitigate climate change. If we use these storage sites we need to ensure that should they leak we will be able to detect any leakage and quantify it.  

The project and the cruise has many international participants and there will be a German Research ship working with the James Cook during the release experiment.



RRS Discovery

Cruise Principal scientist & institution Location Duration in days (begins) Aim

Martin Collins


Tristan Da Cunha and St Helena

39 days

(March & April)

Protecting the biodiversity of the UK South Atlantic islands

St Helena and Tristan da Cunha form part of the UK Overseas Territory of St Helena, Tristan da Cunha and Ascension Island.  The EEZs of St Helena and Tristan da Cunha account for around 1.25 million square kilometres of the South Atlantic Ocean. These regions are home to important biodiversity, but also play an important role in the economy and culture of the island communities.

Discovery 100 will be split between the EEZs of Tristan da Cunha and St Helena EEZs (22 science days, 11 in each territory), each with a suite of survey objectives relevant to fisheries and marine biodiversity in each territory. The Tristan da Cunha leg of the survey will focus upon the biodiversity and habitats associated with the seamounts in the centre of the EEZ (the main area for demersal fishing). The St Helena leg will focus upon pelagic ecosystems, with a view to improving the understanding of pelagic food webs that underpin tuna fisheries around St Helena and Cardno Seamount in the north of the EEZ.

The cruise will consist of the following:

  1. Mapping the seamount habitats of the RSA and McNish seamounts in the Tristan EEZ;
  2. Investigating the biodiversity and productivity of the Tristan seamounts using acoustics, nets, cameras and a small benthic sledge;
  3. Investigating the impacts of demersal fishing on the benthic communities of the seamounts;
  4. Mapping the Cardno Seamount and the area around St Helena;
  5. Investigating the biodiversity and productivity of the St Helena area and the Cardno Seamounts using acoustics, nets, cameras and a small benthic sledge;
  6. Deploying acoustic receivers as part of an array to track tuna and whale sharks.

Discovery 100 is funded by a combination of the UK Overseas Territories Blue Belt Programme (Cefas) and UK Overseas Development Assistance (British Antarctic Survey).  Scientists from BAS and Cefas will be supported by colleagues from the Natural History Museum, Plymouth University, RSPB, Stanford University and will include active participation from scientists from both Tristan and St Helena.

The EEZs of St Helena and Tristan are poorly sampled and samples collected during the cruise will contribute to a range of research projects and many specimens will lodged at the Natural History Museum in London.

Follow the cruise on Twitter

Further information can be found here and here

Previous and Upcoming Expeditions

Learn about the previous research expeditions that have been undertaken.