Ships and Cruises
Seagoing was at the heart of the work of the Wormley laboratory. The material on this page describes the ships on which the science was carried out and describes aspects of life at sea. The research expeditions were known as cruises and typically lasted up to 30 days between port calls. Many were on Royal Research Ships but charter vessels were also used.
RRS Discovery II 1929 - 62
Discovery II was launched in 1928 and was assigned to the NIO in 1949. From 1929 to 1939 she had carried out the Discovery Investigations, researching the hydrography and biology of the Southern Oceans, work previously carried out by the earlier Discovery which had taken Scott to the Antarctic.
RRS Discovery (1962- 1990
Discovery II was replaced in 1962 by RRS Discovery built in Aberdeen. Her first assignment was to take part in the 1962-3 International Indian Ocean Expedition. She continued working primarily for NIO and subsequently for IOS undergoing regular refits to keep her abreast of technology developments.
RRS Discovery 1992-2012
By the later 1980s ocean science had entered a new phase requiring larger scientific parties, longer voyages and bigger equipment. RRS Discovery was given a major refit in which she was lengthened, re-engined and given a much larger working deck. The forward section was unchanged as can be seen in the above photographs.
Research was carried out on cruises, lists of which can be down-loaded from the following links for Discovery II and Discovery.
A scrapbook of images and narratives describing Discovery cruises was prepared for the ship's 50th anniversary in 2012 and can be downloaded here. Several articles about the 1962 RRS Discovery can be found in Ocean Challenge 19(2) published to coincide with her 50th Anniversary..
A table showing the essential information about all the Royal Research Ships is available here.
A searchable archive of reports of the cruises of these ships is held by the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC). (RRS Discovery Cruise 100 to the Southern Ocean in 1979 was led by Jim Crease. Sadly a cruise report was not produced at the time. However, 40 years on, several people who took part in the cruise have produced an "alternative" report. It can be down loaded here. )
Two photos from 1962/3. Left, the new RRS Discovery in Mombasa during the IIOE. Right. Discovery II and the new Discovery in their home port, Millbay Dock, Plymouth.