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New research vessel in the UK

31 August, 2006, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) took delivery of the newest addition to their research vessel fleet, the RRS James Cook.

With a length of 90m and a displacement in excess of 5000 tonnes, the ship will be able to operate in higher sea states that any of the other NERC vessels giving UK researchers year-around access to marine work. More maneuverability, more berths and better technical facilities make the James Cook one of the most sophisticated research vessels in the world.

Professor Howard Roe, the Chairman of the Procurement Board and the former Director of the Southampton Oceanography Centre explains that such a ship will enable UK scientists to play leading roles in important international marine research programmes.

The contract for the 52 million euro ship was granted to the Norwegian shipyard, Flekkefjørd Slipp & Maskinfabrikk AS and to Skipteknisk AS, the companies that co-operated to build the G.O.Sars, the flagship of the Norwegian research vessel fleet, in 2004.

The ship will now undergo a number of sea trials before going into official service in the spring of 2007. It is already booked for a series of summer cruises (2007-2009) to the Charlie-Gibbs Fracture Zone in the mid-Atlantic Ridge where it will conduct MAR-ECO work among other things.
Artwork aboard the James Cook will include some images of deep-sea organisms made by students from a school in the Azores. The students and their teachers have been participating in a MAR-ECO school network. Some of the network is supported by EU, Comenius funding. Within the network teachers are exploring multi-disciplinary approaches to learning including art + science and language + science. PhD student, Nikki King from the University of Aberdeen and Oceanlab has been working closely with the teachers, particularly those in Scotland.

Links:

Press release (July 2004)

RRS James Cook web site

National Oceanography Centre in Southampton news brief

MAR-ECO teachers' network

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