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:   201117 09:00
Zone:   Z-3
Exped: DY086

Subj:    PIM report

Pos:  52 49S  040 11W

Co:    Stopped – DP

Spd:  Stopped - DP

WX:   WSW F3. Overcast and clear. Low seas and mod confused swell.


Status: At station at P3 ( NW of South Georgia), engaged in ‘Bongo’ net deployment.

Completed EK 60 survey overnight.


Intentions: Further overside deployments throughout the day/night at P3 including SPAS, snow catchers, red camera frame, MOCNESS net and CTDs.

Recover 4 x Pelagras this evening.

James Cook

DTG:    20117 0700L
Zone:   UTC

Subj:    PIM 
Exp No: JC155

Pos: 27 56.6N 016 55.1W
Co: Various
Spd: 4.0 Kts

Wind: NW x 15Kts
Sea: Calm seas, slight oceanic swell

Weather: Fine and Clear 

Status: Continue w ith fabric maintenace of vessel. LSA training to be conducted today

Vessel remaining at least 12 miles offshore throughout.

VSAT - System has failed. Fault finding indicates that the issue is with the modem.
FBB/Mobile phones when in range being used for traffic, sending of attachments should be avoided, if they have to be sent then ensure these are small.

New Modem did not arrive into Tenerife in time for vessel to recieve, this will be delivered to vessel on the 23rd Novemeber.

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






22 Days


The RRS James Cook departed Southampton on 25th October bound for Santa Cruz Tenerife. ETA into Tenerife is 1st November. On departure from Tenerife the ship sails for international waters and winch drive suite trials

RRS Discovery

Cruise Principal scientist & institution Location Duration in days (begins) Aim
DY084 Andy Rees

Plymouth Marine Laboratory

Atlantic Ocean 40 days

The Atlantic Meridional Transect - AMT

The Atlantic Meridional Transect programme (AMT) is a NERC National Capability project with objectives to:

  • quantify the nature and causes of ecological and biogeochemical variability in planktonic ecosystems;
  • quantify the effects of this variability on nutrient cycling, on biogenic export and on air-sea exchange of climate active gases;
  • construct a multi-decadal, multidisciplinary ocean time-series which is integrated within a wider “Pole-to-pole” observatory concept;
  • provide essential sea-truth validation for current and next generation satellite missions;
  • provide essential data for global ecosystem model development and validation and;
  • provide a valuable, highly sought after training arena for the next generation of UK and International oceanographers.

AMT also provides a contextual logistical and scientific infrastructure for independently funded national and international open ocean biogeochemical and ecological research.

AMT is a time series of stations along a transect of ~13,500 km in the Atlantic Ocean between the UK and South Atlantic.

Twenty six cruises have been completed so far, and the data collected have contributed to >300 peer reviewed publications and 68 PhD theses. Further information can be found here.

Expedition DY084 (AMT-27) will take place between Southampton and the Falkland Islands in September-October 2017.

On-board will be scientists from Plymouth Marine Lab, the National Oceanography Centre, the British Oceanographic Data Centre and the University of Southampton who will be working to deliver on projects funded by NERC (twilight zone nitrogen cycling) and ESA (calibration/validation of Sentinel-3 satellite) in addition to the AMT-NC science deliverables.

Daily routine will involve stations at pre-dawn and mid-day which will include water column sampling using CTD, bongo nets and optical instrumentation.  

Data collected during previous AMT cruises is available from here




Previous and Upcoming Expeditions

Learn about the previous research expeditions that have been undertaken.