Cruise Preparations

Cruises are conducted only after extensive discussions which lead to development of proposals, funding, decisions by federal agencies, and then detailed cruise planning among participating scientists. The timeline from conception of a research question to the actual cruise may be three to four years. After the question to be researched is conceived, proposals are developed, requests for funding and ship time are submitted, and the amount of the award is decided upon. After funding is established, detailed plans are developed, which include plans for purchase, preparation and testing of materials to be used. Finally, the ship is loaded, and the cruise begins. The work is still not done until long after the cruise, as analysis of data continues long after return to land. Finally, results of the research are disseminated via scientific reports presented at meetings and published in journals.

Cruise planning is an ongoing process: new questions arise even during a cruise, and depending on conditions, which may not be exactly as the scientists had planned, actual experiments may be modified from those orignally planned. Also, discoveries made on cruise may lead to development of more experiments for later cruises.

View of Oceanus dockside Starboard side of R/V Oceanus at dock in Woods Hole. Scientific gear needed for the cruise must be loaded, set up, and secured for all sea conditions before departure. This usually takes about 2 days.

View of buoy on deckThis is a view of the ship's aft (stern) deck where a large buoy has been removed from the water for maintenance. This buoy was anchored or moored at a site, in this case in 80 meters of water, in order to make frequent measurements over a long period of time. Instruments suspended below this buoy measured water currents, temperature, and salinity at various depths.

View of work scheduling board The whiteboard shows a proposed schedule of sampling activities for the next two days. Evaluation and planning go on throughout the cruise to take advantage of new information as data are collected.

Three scientists on deckThree scientists during a break on deck: Melissa from the University of Rhode Island, Lew from Bigelow Laboratory, and Pierre from the Institute Maurice Lamontagne in Quebec.

Scientists working at nightSampling is done around the clock, weather permitting. Scientists usually put in long and irregular hours during a cruise, but also there is a "watch system" which divides up primary daytime and nighttime responsibilities.

Repairs to blockA repair is being made to the block after the cable jumped the block and became jammed in the cheeks. The vessel's chief boatswain is trying to place the cable properly.

Bow view: homeward bound Homeward Bound.

From here, continue with:
  • Return to Cruise Overview
  • Current Meter Mooring: Reporting water data via satellite.
  • Satellite-tracked Drifters: Following water (and plankton) movements.
  • MOCNESS: Multi-level underwater net sampling system for collecting plankton.
  • Plankton Research: How plankton are stored and studied on board.
  • Conductivity, Temperature, Depth Testing: Obtaining water samples to determine conductivity, temperature, and depth.
  • Links to more research-related sites, as well as detailed, live data from buoys in the Gulf of Maine.

  • On Location Home Page