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Next Generation European Research Vessels: Current Status and Foreseeable Evolution

Authors:
  • Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera | Portuguese Institute for Sea and Atmosphere

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The ocean is intrinsically linked to many of the global challenges facing the world, including climate change, food and water security, and health, and we will require better understanding of the ocean and its ecosystems to develop and adapt. As key marine science research infrastructures, research vessels play a key role in supporting and enabling this critical research. It is therefore vital to have a clear overview of the current research vessels fleet, its capabilities and its equipment, and hence its ability to support these science needs. It is also appropriate to take a strategic look forward to emerging and future needs, so that steps can be taken to ensure that the fleet remains able to provide this support. It is also important that this critical importance of research vessels is clearly and widely communicated, to ensure that the appropriate support is made available to ensure they can continue to provide a high level of support to science. This publication presents an overview of the current fleet, its capabilities and equipment, and its management. It then looks to the future, highlighting what will be needed to ensure that the European fleet can continue to provide the same high level of support to science, in particular in specialized areas such as the deep-sea and Polar regions. It also goes beyond the fleet itself, to consider the training of fleet personnel, fleet management, and the role of research vessels in the wider context of ocean observations and the European Ocean Observing System (EOOS). It also explores ways in which greater efficiencies could be achieved at local, regional and European scale, to ensure the best possible use is made of these infrastructures. This publication is the result of a collaboration with the European Research Vessel Operators.
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