Life at sea

Many of the research projects that we support have field areas in the most remote of places. The current project we are working in has a field area located at 13N in the very middle of the Atlantic ocean. It is a 5 day passage at full research vessel speed to reach it from the nearest land. The older hands amongst us say the sea looks the same everywhere you go so the sunrises and sunsets become a highlight, as vessel operations are expensive and so work takes place 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Those of us who have the night shifts get to see some very picturesque sunrises and sunsets.

As the work areas tend to be remote, the scientists make the most of the time allocated for a research cruise (as they are known) and plan operations to suit the 24/7 working pattern. Teams are allocated to shifts, and some shifts do not see daylight for weeks on end if the cruises are long. A typical multidisciplinary marine seismic cruise to the deep ocean is often between 40 and 50 days in length.

As you can imagine the facility has to take everything it needs as we cannot pop out and buy spare parts. So the amount of equipment that we need to support such research cruises is quite large, sometimes amounting to 3 or 4 floor-to-ceiling packed 20′ sea freight shipping containers. So we have to be prepared for every eventuality.

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