New NERC research vessel named

The Natural Environment Research Council’s new Spanish-built research vessel RRS Discovery arrives in Southampton prior to a formal naming ceremony earlier this month The Natural Environment Research Council’s new Spanish-built research vessel RRS Discovery arrives in Southampton prior to a formal naming ceremony earlier this month

The UK Natural Environment Research Council’s new 100m Royal Research Vessel (RRS) Discovery was formally named earlier this month (October) alongside the National Oceanography Centre’s waterfront campus in Southampton.

Built by CNP Freire SA in Vigo, Northern Spain and costing an overall £75m, the new acquisition joins its sister vessel RRS James Cook and will be similarly operated by the NOC on behalf of NERC.

The multi-disciplinary vessel, which carries a crew of 24 and accommodation for 28 scientists and technicians, includes a formidable seismic capability with Kongsberg multibeam and sub-bottom profiling equipment. The systems are supported by dynamic positioning facilities designed to aid a wide range of over-the-side operations, including deployment of NERC’s Isis ROV which can operate at depths down to 6,500m.

After technical trials supporting a complex range of activities required by the UK marine science community, Discovery is expected to begin its first scientific cruise early next year. It will be followed by a series of six ventures for the Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry research programme, co-funded by NERC and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), with a budget of £10.5m.

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