Research Ships

Research Ships

The ability to explore remote and challenging areas at sea, across a range of oceanographic disciplines, is becoming increasingly important for us to understand the complex nature of our oceans in order to predict future change.

Despite the increasing accuracy and precision of satellite measurements, the electromagnetic waves used for recording data from the oceans can only penetrate the top few millimetres of the ocean surface, leaving physical tools as the only viable way to research the ocean depths. For the foreseeable future, research vessels will be the primary method of oceanographic observation, through direct observation and via autonomous vehicles. Our research vessels support complex, multidisciplinary, multi-investigator research, and include state of the art technology and instruments to provide research needs across all the disciplines.

The ships are built to carry out oceanographic research in the most extreme and remote oceanic environments on planet Earth. The high-tech instruments and scientific facilities are capable of producing both precise and accurate data for a wide array of oceanographic parameters. The data collected by our research vessels help our scientists to lead the way in oceanographic science by enabling us to make models and predictions about how our future oceans will change.

Our highly adaptable ships are able to support increasingly complex, multi-disciplinary, multi-investigator research, and are available for hire to institutions and businesses.

Research Expeditions » Marine Facilities Planning »


The RRS Discovery

RRS Discovery is a multidisciplinary ship, specifically designed for the challenges of 21st century oceanography

The RRS James Cook

Fitted with modern up-to-date systems on board, RRS James Cook, is one of the most advanced research vessels currently in service

Life On Board a Research Ship

This film gives an insight into life on board a state-of-the-art research ship (RRS Discovery) and shows the challenges of undertaking world class marine science at sea.




History of Research Ships

The modern research ship takes its origins from the early exploration voyages such as HMS Endeavor and HMS Challenger, both of which were converted vessels, fitted with a range of research facilities to sample and measure across a range of disciplines in extreme environments.


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