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