Expanding ocean science capacity
The ocean represents 71% of the Earth’s surface and over 99% of its living biosphere by volume. The vastness of the ocean in all of its dimensions represents a significant challenge for supporting a human presence on the seas for scientific research and exploration.
More sophisticated remote and autonomous systems are increasingly augmenting our capacity to measure and monitor important environmental parameters, but the component of ocean science that relies on our ability to go to sea to directly explore, observe, sample, and measure will always be constrained by the number and availability of scientifically equipped ships.
The majority of large research vessels are owned and operated by national governments and research institutions and are accordingly bound by discretionary budgets and administered within institutional silos that cannot readily scale, either in number or availability, to the new global needs and collaborative opportunities for research and training that we are faced with over the next several decades.
To address this challenge, Global Oceans has developed an operational model called MARV, for Modular Adaptive Research Vessel, that enables mobilization of time-chartered ships, modular workspace systems, equipment, logistics management, and other resources from the commercial offshore sector for scientific research. MARVs leverage a worldwide pool of existing private-sector assets worth billions of dollars that can be chartered and selectively adapted as short-term, project-dedicated platforms. Time-chartered Global Class offshore service vessels (OSVs) are facilitated through standard contracts and are dedicated to exclusive project use by Global Oceans for the chartered timeframe.
The MARV strategy is an alternative, routinely deployable paradigm for expanding fully functional at-sea ocean science capacity on human-occupied vessels. This strategy expands the geospatial footprint and potential frequency of manned missions across the world’s oceans without new capital investment for acquiring and operating large research vessels. It is a large-infrastructure model for ocean science that is nimble, scalable, adaptive, lower cost, and non-capital intensive.
Because the model scales to demand, it enables a greater ability to execute projects that require intensive, multi-expedition, multi-year deployments of research capacity and specialized equipment to support large-scale regional and global surveys, monitoring, mapping, resource assessments, modeling studies, and ecosystem assessments across all spatial dimensions and seasons.
Planned research vessel mobilizations for specific projects are shown throughout this website with some also included here to illustrate the MARV concept. The Global Seamounts Project (GSP) is shown in Figures 1 - 3, project-rendered on a 92 meter Hornbeck OSV (Figure 4); a proposed expedition to Palau moblized from our Singapore Hub is shown in Figures 5 - 6; and a MARV-configured icebreaker for the SASx Arctic Baseline Project is shown in Figures 7 - 12. The icebreaker configuration illustrates a mobile insulated shell for lab modules on polar expeditions that Global Oceans designed with Cocoon, Inc. More information about this system is discussed in the SASx project section.
Offshore Service Vessels (OSVs)
Over 5,500 OSVs operate globally. Availability of off-contract OSVs from the global fleets is currently about 30% on a running basis resulting in a large continuously active pool of globally distributed vessels to select from (Figure 4). Global distribution of these assets enables chartering and mobilization within the region of project operations, reducing or eliminating long transits from “home ports” for institutional science vessels.
A standard ship design, common across all OSVs, provides a large open deck space typically ranging from 500 meters² to 900 meters², adaptive to project placement of workspace modules and equipment. OSVs can be selected for existing crane and winch capacity or can be readily fitted with equipment for each project. Power generation modules serve as ship-independent power supply for the science deck and as backup to accessing ship’s power system.
Global Oceans has partnered with suppliers and manufacturers of shipboard workstations and laboratories and has access to several hundred systems from a global pool, staged in hubs in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. All modular labs are steel-shelled, pre-wired for computing, pre-plumbed for water and waste management, and pre-configured for fume hood installation (Figures 13 - 14). Clean power supply for lab instrumentation and redundant internal environmental control for temperature and humidity are standard.
Modular laboratory systems are globally certified for universal deployment in eastern and western hemispheres by ABS, USCG, DNV, IMO, SOLAS and LLOYDS.
Modules are attached to the deck for each expedition with a combination of mechanical locks and welding to the vessel sub-deck to meet ABS specifications and engineering design approvals. All modules used by Global Oceans are manufactured and certified for 2-up stacking and can be coupled in combinations of 2- to 8-module clusters, with multiple clusters on deck depending on project needs and vessel size.
These modular workspace systems are purpose-built and certified for human habitation and designed with standard container-dimension footprints from 20’ to 42’ for shipment by cargo carrier. With availability from four international hubs, Global Oceans can ship, deliver, and install workspace and lab systems on regionally mobilized MARV vessels anywhere in the world within a few weeks.
Global Oceans is working with leading analytical instrument suppliers to provide instrumentation on board MARV expeditions installed for the duration of each research cruise. Shipment to the expedition mobilization port and lab installation is coordinated by Global Oceans. Calibration, testing, spare parts, gasses, provision of consumable materials for assays, as well as training and technical support as needed, can be provided for all instrument systems.
Common analytical instruments and materials include, but are not limited to:
Gas Chromatography and GC/Mass Spec.
Liquid Chromatography and LC/Mass Spec.
ICP Mass Spec.
Flow cytometry and liquid scintillation.
Liquid nitrogen storage on-board (bulk and portable containment).
Genomics (sequencing, barcoding, separation & storage for on-shore analysis, RAD-Seq methods, tissue sample prep & storage).
Workshop modules are a component of MARV vessel configuration to enable on-board maintenance of scientific equipment and deep-sea vehicles. Workshops in multiple sizes can be installed to support equipment and vehicle mobilization, repair, maintenance, and storage (Figures 15 - 16). Hundreds of workshop modules are available in a range of configurations: from modules with 2-ton capacity hoist systems, to 10′ modules with racks for secure tool storage. Twenty-foot workshops are standard. ATEX floodlights enable external operation, and HVAC is installed as needed.
Engineering support is provided for every workshop module to ensure that power, space, deck placement, and deployment capacity is sufficient and safe.
Workshops are certified for global deployment in compliance with IECEx, CE, CSC, DNV 2.7-1, EN 12079 and ATEX requirements.
Compared with standard research vessels that transit long distances from a home port, regionally deployed MARVs require a local base of operations at each project port for mobilization and demobilization. To achieve this, and to enable the management of multiple complex expeditions simultaneously, Global Oceans has partnered with a global commercial port services firm that supports operational port logistics on a worldwide basis, including specialized support for working in the Arctic.
Global Oceans has access to a network of over 300 port offices in 66 countries, staffed by over 3,000 maritime professionals with expertise in operational logistics. Any of these port offices can be utilized as a local Global Oceans expedition Project Management Office (PMO) with dedicated call lines, regional emergency protocols, and staffed with an expedition-dedicated project manager working with the Global Oceans team.
Control of all project shipments to an expedition port is coordinated by Global Oceans, linked to a worldwide forwarding network through our port services partner, with consolidation shipment centers located in Osaka, Seoul, Singapore, Shanghai, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Houston, and Dubai.
Local Project Management Offices provide a dedicated local project manager working closely with the Global Oceans team, engineering team, and research vehicle and equipment providers to coordinate logistics support.
In advance of vessel mobilization, the PMO team handles receipt and customs clearance at the port via sea or air transport, secure warehousing, load out to the chartered vessel, and coordination of overnight and emergency shipments. Also coordinated is vessel berthing, port operations, engineering review, modular systems and on-deck equipment installation, vessel mobilization and demobilization.
Our logistics partner provides local port cost scoping for budgeting, locks in local pricing tariffs, and tracks shipments. Standard dry and refrigerated storage containers can be locally sourced for storage remaining at port during an expedition or for installing on deck, and local sourcing for consumables such as fuel and spare parts. Our local PMO teams will provide support to expedition personnel such as local airport transfers, hotel bookings, assistance with visas, air and ground transport, and emergency support.
Our ability through the logistics partnership to reliably ship, track, receive through customs, and securely store at any of 300 global ports the equipment shipped by expedition scientists and various suppliers, weeks in advance of the chartered vessel arrival, is an integral part of MARV operations. This enables remote mobilization of MARV research vessels within the area of operation, lowers and controls direct costs, and mitigates logistics risks inherent in pre- and post-expedition planning.