Next Generation European Research Vessels: Current Status and Foreseeable Evolution

Michael.Klages [ at ]


The European research vessel fleet plays a vital role in supporting scientific research and development not just in Europe but also across the globe. This document explores how the fleet has developed since the publication of the European Marine Board Position Paper 10 (EMB PP 10) "European Ocean Research Fleets – Towards a Common Strategy and Enhanced Use" (Binot et al., 2007). It looks at the current fleet and its equipment and capabilities (Chapter 2), the deep sea (Chapter 3) and Polar regions (Chapter 4) as study areas of ever- increasing importance for science and for the vessels that explore them, the role that research vessels play in the wider ocean observing landscape (Chapter 5), the importance of training personnel for research vessels (Chapter 6), and considers management of the European research vessel fleet (Chapter 7). This Position Paper considers what has changed since 2007, what the status is in 2019, and future directions for the European fleet, with a 10-year horizon to 2030. This Position Paper finds that the current European research vessel fleet is highly capable, and is able to provide excellent support to European marine science and wider scientific research and can lead on the world stage. However, with a typical life expectancy of a research vessel of 30 years, the fleet is ageing and urgently requires further investment and reinvestment to continue to be as efficient and capable as the scientific community expects and requires. The capabilities of the fleet have increased considerably since 2007, and vessels have kept up with fast-paced technological developments. The demand for complex and highly capable vessels will continue, and research vessel designs and the fleet as a whole will need to keep pace in order to remain fit-for-purpose and continue to be a key player globally. There is huge diversity in vessel types and designs in terms of capabilities and equipment, management structures and processes, and training possibilities. While it would not be possible or appropriate to highlight any one approach as the only one to use, a growing trend in collaboration through community groups, agreements, legal entities and funded projects now enables more strategic thinking in the development of these vital infrastructures. However, some issues remain in enabling equal access to research vessel time for all researchers across Europe regardless of country, and regardless of whether or not that country owns a suitable research vessel for their scientific needs.

Item Type
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Publication Status
Eprint ID
DOI 10.5281/zenodo.3477893

Cite as
Nieuwejaar, P. , Mazauric, V. , Betzler, C. , Carapuço, M. , Cattrijsse, A. , Coren, F. , Danobeitia, J. , Day, C. , Fitzgerald, A. , Florescu, S. , Ignacio Diaz, J. , Klages, M. , Koning, E. , Lefort, O. , Magnifico, G. , Mikelborg, Ø. and Naudts, L. (2019): Next Generation European Research Vessels: Current Status and Foreseeable Evolution / P. Kellett , C. Viegas , B. Alexander , J. Coopman and A. Muniz Piniella (editors) , Ostend, Belgium, European Marine Board, 140 p., ISBN: 978-94-92043-79-5 . doi: 10.5281/zenodo.3477893

[thumbnail of EMB_PP25_Research_Vessels_Web_v2.pdf]

Download (6MB) | Preview

Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Geographical region

Research Platforms


Edit Item Edit Item