Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry blog

Monday 2 March 2015

Discovery leaving Southampton for cruise DY021

By Louis Byrne, British Oceanographic Data Centre, NOC

RRS Discovery docked in Southampton. Picture taken by Amber Annett

After a week of setting up where all manner of frames, sensors, analysers, buoys, containers, chemicals, supermassive autonomous vehicles and an array of bedraggled looking scientists have boarded the RRS Discovery it was finally time to leave the port of Southampton for the open sea!

Breakfast on the morning of departure is at 7:30 and is followed by a safety briefing and familiarisation before departure at 1015. Rumour had it that we were leaving port into fairly rough seas, and once we have escaped the shelter of Southampton docks those rumours turn out to be correct.  It is a bit of a baptism of fire for some of the scientists on board and I think many are feeling a little queasy. 

Before our stomachs have had time to settle it is time to practice the muster, which is similar to a fire drill, however once at the assembly point everyone is required to put on a life jacket, enter an orange life boat and consider how rubbish it would be if we actually had to use it,  52 people in a small orange box with no toilet, one small hatch for air and fishing rods which aren’t actually provided for us to catch fish, but to give us the psychological illusion that there actually something we can actually do ourselves to improve our chances of survival as we get tossed around like an orange cork in a gigantic tumble dryer (if today’s  seas are anything to go by). 

Mini Stable (left) and autosub (right) on deck departing Southampton. Picture taken by Richard Cooke, National Oceanography Centre, Liverpool.
The original plan was to conduct some equipment trials at a long term observation station near Plymouth called E1, however due to the state of the seas we’ll be skipping the trials station and heading straight out to the Celtic Sea and to site A, which we are expected to reach at 9PM tomorrow (Monday). As there is little left to do today a few of us hit the bar and tv room, just in time to watch England get mauled by Ireland in the 6 nations. All in all it’s been a pretty rough day.  Just before signing off there is time for a bonus question:

Who set off the Discovery’s fire alarm the night before departure by spraying deodorant in their cabin? Answer in the next blog.


  1. Isn't it Mini Stable (left) and Autosub (right) or did the picture get flipped?

  2. Well spotted! Have corrected the caption, not sure if the image has been flipped? :-)