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:   260319  1040

Zone:   Z

Exped: DY100

Subj:   PIM


Pos:  39 29’ S  006 52’ W

Course: 035

Speed: 7 knts

WX:   Overcast with lt rain, wind WNW4, confused seas


Status: Science at RSA Seamount. EK60 survey, RMT25 net, CTD completed thus far

Intentions: Swath survey throughout the day, RMT25 net overnight. Will break off science 2000h Thursday for ETA 30/0600h Tristan da Cunha

Vessel:  James Cook

DTG: 250319 0700

Exped: JC178

Zone: Z

Subj PIM


Position: No6 Berth KGV, Glasgow

Speed: N/A

Co: N/A

WX: Lt Airs, Harbour conditions, fine and clear


Status: Routine maintenance of vessel ongoing, CMID audit to take place today


Intentions: Routine maintenance of vessel ongoing, ETD Govan 26/1300L.

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



KGV Govan


The RRS James Cook Demobilised in Greenock and moved to KGV Govan. Remains in Govan until 26th March then moves to Falmouth.

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.