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


TG:   220920  1200

Zone:   Z+1

Exped: DY119

Subj:   PIM


Pos: 50 34'N 000 07'E

Wx:  Lt Airs, partly cloudy and clear. Slight seas


Magnetic compass swing PM

Vessel:  James Cook

DTG:   220920  0700

Zone:   GMT

Exped: JC209

Subj:   PIM


Pos:  05 48S  009 40E

Co:    091T

Spd:  11Kts

WX:   Lt Airs, Overcast, Calm sea and low to moderate oceanic swell.

Status: Completed recovery of OBS’s in international waters 21/2235z. Set onto Inshore waters for recovery of remaining OBS’s and one Hydrophone mooring

Intentions: Continue with passage to Inshore work site. ETA 22/1500z. Recovery of OBS’s to commence on arrival


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


Steve Snook

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Newfoundland and Labrador Sea

24 days


The Atlantic Zone Monitoring Program (AZMP) was implemented in 1998 by the Gulf, Quebec, Maritimes and Newfoundland and Labrador regions of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). The program's aim is to collect and analyze the biological, chemical and physical field data that are necessary to:

  • characterize and understand the causes of oceanic variability at the seasonal, inter-annual and decadal scales
  • provide multidisciplinary data sets that can be used to establish relationships among the biological, chemical and physical variables
  • provide adequate data to support the sound development of ocean activities

Sampling strategy

The sampling strategy is based on 4 components.

  1. Seasonal and opportunistic sampling along sections to quantify the oceanographic variability in the Canadian northwest Atlantic shelf region.
  2. Higher frequency temporal sampling at more accessible fixed sites to monitor the shorter time scale dynamics in representative areas.
  3. Fish survey and remote sensing data to provide broader spatial coverage and a context to interpret other data.
  4. Data from other existing monitoring programs, such as:
    • toxic algae monitoring
    • the water levels network
    • Continuous Plankton Recorder lines
    • nearshore long-term temperature monitoring

JC190 will collect data according to the AZMP mandate in the Newfoundland and Labrador region; in particular the St. Pierre Bank, Grand Banks of Newfoundland, Flemish Cap, Northeast Newfoundland and Southern Labrador shelves.

RRS Discovery

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

Andy Rees

Plymouth Marine Laboratory

Atlantic Ocean 

42 days 

(October & November)

The Atlantic Meridional Transect - AMT

The Atlantic Meridional Transect programme (AMT) is a component of the NERC National Capability Long-term Single Centre Science Programme, Climate Linked Atlantic Sector Science (CLASS) 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 eight cruises have been completed so far, and the data collected have contributed to >320 peer reviewed publications and 68 PhD theses. Further information can be found here.

Expedition DY110 (AMT-29) will take place between Southampton and Punta Arenas, Chile in October – November 2019. 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 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.