Royal Research Ship Discovery to be named by HRH The Princess Royal

8 October 2013

Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal will name a new Royal Research Ship - RRS Discovery - at NERC's National Oceanography Centre in Southampton on Thursday, 10 October 2013.

RRS DiscoveryRRS Discovery is a state-of-the art platform for world-leading oceanographic research and represents a £75 million investment in frontier science by the Department for Business Innovation & Skills. Commissioned by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and operated on NERC's behalf by NERC's National Oceanography Centre (NOC) for the United Kingdom's marine science community, Discovery's wide capability will allow deep-ocean research in the remotest and least hospitable parts of our planet, from tropical seas to polar waters.

Once named by Her Royal Highness at NOC's Empress Dock, Discovery joins RRS James Cook as one of a brace of vessels with deep ocean capability that will deliver NERC's science priorities for decades to come. Her Royal Highness also named James Cook in 2007.

At almost 100-metres in length, and with a displacement of 6,075 tonnes, Discovery will carry a marine crew of 24 and has accommodation for 28 scientists and technicians.

The ship is fitted with a comprehensive suite of laboratories, handling systems and sensors that will enable her to carry out research spanning a wide range of ocean issues that impact on society.

RRS Discovery will play a key role in the scientific mission to understand the role of the oceans in the Earth system and to carry out research that will deliver significant economic and societal benefits - particularly in areas including climate change, ocean acidification, the impact of human activity on delicate ecosystems, mapping earthquakes and underwater landslides and investigating fascinating features such as hydrothermal vents. Scientists will be able to sample and measure the properties of the atmosphere above the ocean surface, the water column itself and the seabed of the deep ocean.

The vessel will also be used to deploy submersible equipment, such as the Isis remotely operated vehicle, or NOC's fleet of Autosub autonomous underwater vehicles, all of which are part of the MARS (Marine Autonomous & Robotics Systems) facility - one of Eight Great Technologies identified as crucial to the UK's future prosperity.

Discovery is the latest in an illustrious line of vessels bearing the name that date back to 1602 when the East India Company commissioned the first recorded Discovery to explore the waters now known as the Hudson Strait in the long search for the North-West Passage. In the 20th Century a new Discovery was specially commissioned for the British National Antarctic Expedition of 1901-04, that included Antarctic heroes Captain Scott and Ernest Shackleton.

The new ship's immediate predecessor ended a 50-year career in 2012, and was the platform for some of the most important marine science carried out during that period - truly a half-century of discovery.

Further information

NERC media office
01793 411561
07917 557215

NERC's National Oceanography Centre Press Office:

Kim Marshall-Brown
023 8059 6170

Mike Douglas
023 8059 6001

Eileen Crockford
023 8059 6000


1. NERC is the largest funder of environmental science in the UK. We invest £330 million in cutting-edge research, training and knowledge transfer in the environmental sciences. Our scientists study and monitor the whole planet, from pole to pole, and from the deep Earth and oceans to the edge of space. We address and respond to critical issues such as environmental hazards, resource security and environmental change. Through collaboration with other science disciplines, with UK business and with policymakers, we make sure our knowledge and skills support sustainable economic growth and public wellbeing - reducing risks to health, infrastructure, supply chains and our changing environment.

2. NERC's National Oceanography Centre (NOC) is the UK's leading institution for integrated coastal and deep ocean research. NOC operates the Royal Research Ships James Cook and the new Discovery and develops technology for coastal and deep ocean research. Working with its partners NOC provides long-term marine science capability including: sustained ocean observing, mapping and surveying; data management and scientific advice. NOC is based at two sites, Southampton and Liverpool, with the headquarters in Southampton. Among the resources that NOC provides on behalf of the UK are The Marine Autonomous and Robotic Systems (MARS) facility, the National Tide and Sea Level Facility (NTSLF) and the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level (PSMSL). The National Oceanography Centre is wholly owned by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

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