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:   190919  0840h

Zone:   Z

Exped: DY108-9

Subj:   PIM


Pos:  59 51’N 007 04’W

Co: DP

Spd: 0’.0

Wx:  SW3 overcast with shallow fog



AUV recovery



Cores until 1600h

HyBis overnight

AUV deployment tomorrow AM


Vessel:  James Cook

a: SST berth 6 Mindelo

b: preparations for JC187 continuing. ETD 1000 310819


FO: 569t

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






RRS Discovery

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

Veerle Huvenne

National Oceanography Centre

North Atlantic:

Darwin Mounds

15 days


CLASS Darwin Mounds cruise

The Darwin cold-water coral mounds in the northern Rockall Trough were discovered in 1998 by NOC scientists (Bett, 2001). Initial surveys showed severe trawling impacts, and the area was closed in 2003 under the EU Common Fisheries Policy. It formed the first deep-water Marine Protected Area in UK waters. A revisit in 2011 showed that the fishing community respects the trawling ban, but the recovery of the most impacted coral areas may need decades (Huvenne et al., 2016).

As part of the CLASS project, we aim to carry out a programme of repeated observations, starting in summer 2019. We will install a mooring equipped with current meter, ADCP, sediment trap and turbidity sensor to measure current regimes, water mass structure and particle flux close to the corals. We plan regular surveys on an 8yr cycle to expand on existing survey effort. These surveys will include AUV-based acoustic mapping for seabed morphology and trawl marks, and ROV- and AUV-based photography or video for benthic habitats.

These long-term observations will be of direct relevance to Government (e.g. JNCC will be a partner in the cruise), in terms of the monitoring of MPAs, while the will also provide fundamental knowledge in terms of cold-water coral recovery after disturbance. The cruise will also be combined with the cruise activities for the BIOCAM project in the same area.

Previous and Upcoming Expeditions

Learn about the previous research expeditions that have been undertaken.