Ocean Technology and Engineering

Ocean Technology and Engineering

The NOC has the vision to be one of the world’s top three oceanographic institutions inventing, designing, building, deploying and commercialising sensors and instruments for marine and environmental science with a beneficial societal impact.

Ocean technology and engineering is a diverse area of oceanographic science and engages staff from a range of disciplines including engineering, chemistry and marine science. The NOC is extremely collaborative and is always seeking new partnerships with academia and industry for commercialisation of existing products and for new R&D. Our four areas of technology development focus on differing aspects in the creation of new technologies and tools to aid in oceanographic science.

Multidisciplinary projects within ocean technology and engineering research at the NOC focus on engineering of meteorology systems, integrating all the sensor research strands for ocean technology and engineering through the delivery of numerous research projects. Activity includes systems design, prototype manufacture, proof of concept systems testing and method optimisation to meet a performance target. NOC scientists working on multidisciplinary projects have the expertise to undertake the final integration of early production systems, prior to demonstration deployments.

Mechanical engineering provides engineering design, small-quantity manufacture, assembly and support for operations to other groups at the NOC and externally. Engineers work with scientists to design and develop a wide range of equipment, from sub-assemblies for complex autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) to simple clamps for attaching instruments to frames.

Scientists and engineers involved with electronics and software are experts in designing high accuracy, low power measurement and control systems for deployment in harsh environments. Designs are bespoke and are created to fit the application. NOC has a large client base including scientists and engineers internal and external to the Natural Environmental Research Council to provide custom solutions to diverse scientific requirements.

Work has been undertaken to create ground based remote sensing software. Development of a novel, robust algorithm has enabled extraction of meaningful ocean measurements from remotely sensed data such as marine radar or cameras.

Analytical Science is used to develop and optimise analytical assays for autonomous sensor applications.


NOC projects associated with this science area.

Scientists and engineers at NOC are currently developing a number of technologies through commissioned Research and Development (R&D), funded by RCUK, EC and industry. These technologies span microsensors to large landers that can operate on the seabed for up to ten years. Technology being developed by scientists at NOC generally fit into the following categories.

Lab-on-chip sensors

Sensors able to measure a range of biogeochemical parameters including nutrients carbonate chemistry, trace metals, cells and nucleic acids. The sensors are designed to integrate with a range of autonomous vehicles.

Other sensors

We have a range of optical, radar, acoustic and pressure sensor systems for marine applications. 


Gas tight water samples, trace metal and less than 2700bar. Particle samplers – neutrally buoyant sediment traps (PELAGRA) and microbiology sampler and nucleic acid preserver (MAPS).


Ten-year duration deep-sea landers and communication systems landers for coastal and littoral zone.


Used in the open ocean to measure breaking waves with millimetre resolution.

Sediment properties

Multi-wavelength optical backscatter.


Acoustic telemetry for shallow and deep ocean use, BGAN and Iridium telemetry for remote areas.

Find out more about the ongoing technology developments in our Technology Development section.

The National Oceanography Centre has a range of facilities available for the development and testing of marine equipment. These facilities are also available for external use on request.

For more information about the available to the marine science community at the NOC, visit our Labs, Workshops and Testing Facilities page.


In Southampton, we have: Optics Laboratory, Calibration Laboratory, Bonding Laboratory, Sensors Workshop, Chemistry Laboratory, Ellsworth Laboratory and Electronics Laboratory.

Molecular Laboratory (National Facility)

A well-equipped molecular biology and Class II microbiology national facility containing an Illumina MiSeq sequencer and a suite of analytical instrumentation, safety cabinets and isolators. Contact: Annika Simpson, Southampton.

Pressure Testing Facility

The NOC offers pressure testing with temperature control (−10°C to 35°C) up to 690bar. Contact: Kevin Saw, Southampton

Precision engineering

Bespoke engineering solutions for shallow and deep ocean application Contact: Kevin Saw, Southampton, David Jones, Liverpool