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:    201017 11:40

Zone:   UTC -1

Subj:    PIM 

Pos: 25 05S 025 02W

Course: 180

Speed: 11.1kts

Wx:  ExN force 3/4. Few clouds, fine and clear. Slight sea and low swell.

Status: DY084 ongoing station work.


Intention: Proceed with stations as per program.

Vessel: James Cook

DTG: 191017 0800

Zone: UTC+2


a: SST, Berth 1, Damen Amsterdam

b: HATs continuing

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


Alan Black





27 Days


The annual refit to the RRS James Cook will take place at the Damen Shipyard Amsterdam over the period 16th September -13th October 2017. This will be followed by five days of basin trials leading onto approximately eight weeks of extensive deep sea winch trials.

Major items of note:-

  1. Completion of annual surveys by both LR and MCA.
  2. Up-grade of the scientific winch control drive system by Rolls-Royce.
  3. Upgrade of the EM120 echo sounder, to the EM122 version and carried out by Kongsberg.
  4. Up-grades to the K-Bridge navigational equipment, again carried out by Kongsberg.
  5. Blue drive thruster control up-grades to both Azimuth and bow thruster units, this being carried out by Siemens.

These up-grades will be carried out alongside the normal refit specification work as presented to the Shipyard. This specification will be readily available on-board the vessel during the refit period should any-one wish to consult it.

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.