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European Research Vessels

Next generation European Research Vessels

Get Involved!

You are invited to complete a survey about your experiences of research vessels and their equipment, and share your thoughts about their future in Europe.

The survey is aimed at 4 main stakeholder groups:

  • Research Groups/University/Marine Station/National Research Institute
  • Funding Agencies
  • Industry/Public or Private Company/Government or non-academic research vessels/Commercial vessels
  • Technology Developers

The survey can be found at:

The deadline for responses is Monday 17 September 2018. 


Ocean science is ‘big science’, involving sophisticated and costly equipment, such as satellites, research vessels, and a number of autonomous in-water systems from remotely operated vehicles (ROV’s) to gliders and fixed platforms such as moorings (UNESCO, 2017). Research vessels are a key research infrastructure offering vital access to our seas and global Ocean for conducting marine science and ocean observing (European Marine Board, 2013).

In March 2007, the Marine Board - ESF Position Paper 10 European Ocean Research Fleets – Towards a Common Strategy and Enhanced Use" was published. This Position Paper included an inventory and description of the existing fleets, and recommendations on their enhanced use and management at pan-European level. At the time it was estimated that in the European Union, half of the national budgets for marine science was spent on operating and replacing marine infrastructure assets including research vessels (European Marine Board, 2007).

Ten years on, the research landscape has evolved and there have been significant technological advancements adding new methods for autonomous sampling and observing our ocean. The European Research Vessel Operators (ERVO), jointly with the European Marine Board, now propose it is timely and opportune for a EMB Working Group to be formed to produce an updated foresight report on European Research Vessels, assessing the progress made towards collaboration and interoperability and taking into account the latest technology and emerging areas of activity.

At a European level, there are a number of initiatives that exist to document the European fleet (e.g. EurOcean Research Vessel infobase, Research Infrastructure Database, Eurofleets) and to strengthen and enhance collaboration, access and interoperability of the European Research Fleet (e.g. European Research Vessel Operators, Ocean Facilities Exchange Group (OFEG), Eurofleets, Eurofleets 2). The Eurofleets project, funded under the Infrastructures section of the FP7 Framework, ran from 2009-2013, and was followed by Eurofleets 2 in 2013-2017, also under the FP7 Framework. In addition, the upcoming ARICE (Arctic Research Icebreaker Consortium for Europe) Project will focus on the European polar research vessel component. It is noted however that while these projects are generally focused on particular aspects of Research Vessel design, operation and use, it is the intention of this EMB activity to conduct a comprehensive review of the subject and provide strategy and direction for Europe.

The EMB Working Group on Research Vessels will produce an updated foresight report on European Research Vessels. It will assess the progress made towards collaboration and interoperability, taking into account the significant technological advancements in autonomous sampling, wider technology and emerging areas of activity. It will seek to take stock of new developments and capabilities in Research Vessels and heavy equipment, and assess next generation developments and requirements for scientific research going forward.

Working Group Objectives

  • Review the current status of European Research Vessels and related equipment;
  • Identify the progress made since the previous EMB Position Paper in 2007, including new advancements and requirements, specifically: updated baseline figures for dedicated research vessel and equipment numbers in Europe; marine research vessel capability and future needs for research in polar areas; latest developments in ocean technology; developments in ocean observing interfaces and networks; capabilities for global and deep ocean research; and developments regarding research vessel requirements, design and operation;
  • Assess the role of Research Vessels as part of the wider European Ocean Observing System (EOOS) and within the scope of advancing marine and ocean science research;
  • Explore options for future management of the fleet within Europe, exploring wider-ranging collaborations, co-ownership, chartering, training at sea opportunities etc;
  • Explore options for enhancing the European Research Fleet capability as a world-class infrastructure resource for the international marine research community and finding ways to further enhance existing collaboration between projects, networks and nations to enhance access, training and interoperability opportunities, and hence cost-efficient use of these valuable resources.

In order to comprehensively cover these areas, the work has been divided into 7 work packages:

  • WP1 - Research Vessels as a platform and interface for ocean technologies
  • WP2 - Deep Sea
  • WP3 - Polar Regions
  • WP4 - Training the Next Generation of Marine Professionals
  • WP5 - Towards an End-to-End European Ocean Observing System (EOOS): A Research Vessel Perspective
  • WP6 - Future Development of Research Vessel Fleet Management and Coordination
  • WP7 - Stakeholder Interaction
















Working Group Members

  • Chair - Per Nieuwejaar, Institute of Marine Research (IMR), Norway
  • Co-chair - Valérie Mazauric, Institut français de recherche pour l'exploitation de la mer (Ifremer), France
  • Christian Betzler, University of Hamburg, Germany
  • Mafalda Carapuço, Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera (IMPA), Portugal
  • André Cattrijsse, Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ), Belgium
  • Franco Coren, Istituto Nazionale di Oceanografia e di Geofisica Sperimentale (OGS), Italy
  • Juanjo Danobeitia, European Multidisciplinary Seafloor and Water-Column Observatory (EMSO), Italy
  • Colin Day, National Oceanography Centre (NOC), UK
  • Aodhan Fitzgerald, Marine Institute (MI), Ireland
  • Stefan Florescu, National Institute for Research and Development of Marine Geology and Geoecology (GeoEcoMar), Romania
  • Jose Ignacio Diaz, Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO), Spain
  • Michael Klages, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
  • Erica Koning, Netherlands Institute for the Sea (NIOZ-NMF), Netherlands
  • Olivier Lefort, Institut français de recherche pour l'exploitation de la mer (Ifremer), France
  • Giuseppe Magnifico, Italian National Research Council (CNR), Italy
  • Øystein Mikelborg, Norwegian Polar Institute, Norway
  • Lieven Naudts, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS - OD Nature), Belgium

Working Group Meetings

  • 15-16 May 2018, Bergen, Norway
  • 1 October 2018, Barcelona, Spain

Relevant Events

  • TBC

WG contact at European Marine Board Secretariat: Paula Kellett Email