Research ships and supporting facilities

NERC owns several research ships that undertake multi-disciplinary science.

As well as owning and running some of the most well-known research ships in the world we provide access to a range of other marine facilities and equipment.

Ships operated by National Marine Facilities, National Oceanography Centre (NOC)

RRS Discovery

RRS Discovery

RRS Discovery

RRS James Cook

RRS Discovery ship specifications and contact information - external link

RRS James Cook ship specifications and contact information - external link

Ships operated by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS)

RRS James Clark Ross

RRS James Clark Ross

RRS James Clark Ross ship information and specifications - external link


Randolph Sliester
Ships Programme & Operations Manager
British Antarctic Survey
01223 221456

NERC recognised facility

RV Prince Madog

RV Prince Madog

RV Prince Madog ship information and specifications (PDF) - external link

Ownership of the RV Prince Madog is via a joint venture between the University of Wales Bangor (UWB) and O.S. Energy UK, known collectively as Prince Madog Offshore Services.

Applications to use the RV Prince Madog must cover all costs associated with use of the vessel. Funds may be applied for from NERC or from other funding sources. Support from NMF is available for cruises on RV Prince Madog and must be costed into research grant applications in discussion with the NMF programme manager (Eleanor Darlington - If you require support costs for a proposal these should be requested through the normal channels by submitting a Ship-time & Marine Equipment (SME) form on the Marine Facilities Planning tool and notifying the NMF programme manager once complete. A minimum of two months before the grant application submission deadline.


Queries relating to the vessel, facilities, equipment and technical support should in the first place be directed to:

Dr David Assinder
School of Ocean Sciences
Bangor University
01248 382854

Vincent Nuernberg
Managing Director
O.S. Energy
+49 (0) 4124 50339 12

For NERC enquiries relating to RV Prince Madog, please contact:

Nicola Lewis
Marine Planning Support
01793 411739

International barter arrangements

NERC's barter arrangements provide the science community with access to a variety of international marine facilities, allowing for no-cost exchanges of ship time on more than 20 research ships and marine facilities such as manned submersibles, remotely operated vehicles, multi-channel seismic streamers, towed arrays and shipboard surveying systems. This promotes a more efficient and cost-effective use of each country's resources through access to a wider range of facilities and geographical areas than would otherwise be possible.

Scientists who are interesting in utilising these barter arrangements should, in the first instance, contact:

Natalie Powney
Head of Marine Planning
07703 380220

Background to OFEG

UK-France-Germany-The Netherlands-Norway-Spain

Since 1996 NERC has had a tri-partite barter arrangement with Germany and France, which led to the establishment of a Marine Facilities Tripartite Group (MFTG) comprising the managers and planners of the respective research ships and marine facilities who meet twice a year to barter ship-time and exchange marine equipment.

In 2002, the Netherlands became a full member of the group and in 2006 Spain and Norway also joined, creating what is now known as the Ocean Facilities Exchange Group (OFEG).

OFEG represents Europe's leading oceanographic research organisations and provides a forum to consider barter exchange and cooperation opportunities for the Global and Ocean Class research fleet. OFEG aims to maximise the overall scientific output using its state-of-the-art facilities in support of the worldwide oceanographic community.

More information on facilities available for barter can be found on the OFEG website - external link.


Since the mid-1980s, NERC has had a bi-lateral barter arrangement with the National Science Foundation (NSF), providing access to marine facilities programmed by the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS), who schedule scientific cruises aboard more than 20 research vessels located at 20 operating institutions in the USA.

More information on these facilities can be found on the UNOLS website - external link.