Aberdeen scientists among those to benefit from new research ship being named today by HRH The Princ

Aberdeen scientists among those to benefit from new research ship being named today by HRH The Princ

A new £40 million royal research ship, the RRS James Cook, is formally named today (6 February 2007) by HRH The Princess Royal. The naming ceremony will be held at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton.

The RRS James Cook is the latest addition to the Natural Environment Research Council's fleet of oceanographic research ships.

Professor Monty Priede, Director of Oceanlab at the University of Aberdeen, chaired the committee that drew up the specifications for the ship which is the most advanced multi-purpose research ship in the world.

Professor Alan Thorpe, NERC's Chief Executive, said, "With oceans covering around three quarters of the Earth, ships like these are vital for the research community. They can reach places that would otherwise be impossible to explore. They allow us to discover micro-organisms that could, for example, be used to develop new antibiotics. And they help us to monitor and understand changes in the oceans that affect temperature and climate."

The new ship will carry scientists to some of the Earth's most challenging environments, from tropical oceans to the edge of the ice sheets. It has been designed as a world-class multidisciplinary science platform that allows for investigations using sophisticated and precisely targeted instruments, such as deep sea remotely operated vehicles.

Professor Priede, who is attending today's naming ceremony and will show HRH The Princess Royal the ship's state-of-the-art research labs, added: "The ship is an absolutely fantastic facility which will allow marine researchers to explore new environments, find new animals and study global changes in the world's oceans."

The RRS James Cook is multi-functional, can carry large scientific parties and is highly flexible in the use of deck and laboratory space. It can operate in tropical regions and at the edge of the ice-sheets without compromising any performance capabilities.

Professor Thorpe said, "Her first voyage will be to the Mid Atlantic Ridge, a massive underwater mountain range, where advanced technology will keep the ship stationary while instruments are deployed to capture information about how the Earth's crust is formed."

Researchers from the University of Aberdeen will be on board the ship for its second scientific cruise studying marine life in the canyons off the Portuguese coast. Aberdeen scientists will then lead the third NERC funded research cruise exploring the deep sea creatures living in the depths of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

Since being delivered in August 2006, the RRS James Cook has undergone a programme of extensive sea trials to confirm its safety and performance at sea. The ship sails to the Mid Atlantic in early March.

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