Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence

Memorandum 51

Supplementary evidence from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) following oral evidence session on 23 July 2007


  This note follows up references made to the ROV at the oral evidence session on 23 July 2007.

  I understand that the Committee heard from scientists during its visit to Portugal that the ROV is not fully utilised, and that full utilisation is not possible because of a shortage of technical staff. I would like to clarify these statements.

  The ROV has a dedicated team of technicians in the National Marine Facilities Division (NMFD), based at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, who can support the deployment of the ROV for approximately 100 days per year. Currently this level of support meets the strategic and responsive-mode science demands of NERC. Should NERC science require greater access to the ROV in the future then the technical support arrangements for the ROV would need to be reconsidered.

  The ROV is only required to support a relatively small proportion of NERC sea-going science and the main platform for ROV deployments is the RRS James Cook, which is also required to deliver other marine science activities. Consequently, the full utilisation of the ROV has to be balanced against the other needs of the NERC cruise programme.

  Partnership arrangements with other countries for the shared resourcing and use of expensive marine equipment, such as the ROV and marine seismics, would seem sensible in the future to ensure that such equipment is fully utilised. NERC expects such arrangements to emerge as relationships with its barter partners develop.

July 2007

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