About the Research Ship Schedules & Information Project
Why is this project important?
This project has the potential to become a focal point for identifying and locating research platforms, their data gathering efforts and their affiliated efforts worldwide. Modernizing our one-stop-shopping site for Research Vessel specifications and cruise information will allow other programs and institutions to link back to this data and provide a public site for posting their information. Many countries, institutions and/or agencies do not have the in-house resources or access to an IT shop or web expertise that would allow them to post their specifications and cruise information online. Our belief is that by providing users with the web-based tools and framework to enter and maintain this information, the research community, the public and the agencies and entities searching for their information will benefit.
We are already a linkback component in the SailWX site's Research Vessels tracking section, with links back to OCEANIC for RV specifications and cruise information. As a proof of concept, similar groupings of RV links have been created for the SAMOS project, the Voluntary Observing Ships program, the NOAA fleet as well as the European RVs and the Baltic RVs for the BONUS portal project. We can also provide similar linkback services and potentially future web services that will remove the need of projects to maintain a subset of RV specification and cruise schedule information. They would be able to simply populate their in-house data holdings directly from our database via web services. The ability to maintain this information in one central data repository and re-use it for multiple purposes can provide substantial time and resource savings for all. OCEANIC would do the work of creating the data entry tools, solicit updated specifications and cruise schedules from vessel operators and work with end-users in the creation of tools and techniques to re-use this information in support of their projects.
Information in the database can aid researchers working on scientific results from prior cruises to improve their understanding and scientific interpretation. This activity can have benefits to researchers, funding agencies, and ship operators seeking to optimize the use of ships and scientific equipment. Information on international schedules can expose opportunities for collaborative work, of particular benefit for work in distant waters, where vessels may operate infrequently. Information can also assist pooling and sharing of equipment and facilities.
Little has changed regarding the International Research Vessel Portal (IRVP) site’s layout, design, and underlying data structure over the past two years. Budget cuts and updated priorities within the agencies that have historically funded the IRVP project caused our efforts to be significantly scaled back in 2004 and funding ended completely in 2005. This has been our only source of funding for this project in recent years. The IRVP project is currently operating in a non-funded status, with the University of Delaware absorbing daily operating costs. Website programming and development efforts have been paused, as well as research efforts to seek out new schedule and specification information and quality controlling existing records. Information that is provided via the online data submission form and spreadsheet are still imported and posted as they are received, as are operator requests to change existing entries.
UNOLS ship schedule changes are programmatically submitted to us via email as they are changed by a RV operator, thus automating regular updates on the UNOLS fleet. To ease submission of all other schedules, an Excel spreadsheet has been posted on the site under “Other Ship Data”. It identifies the columns of data that are being collected and streamlines importing cruise data into the database. The web-based form previously used for submitting cruise schedules has been replaced by the Excel spreadsheet method due to abuse of the previous online forms by mischievous users. The spreadsheet method allows the ship operator to maintain a copy of the submitted schedule so that as a vessel’s schedule is modified, changes can be submitted by simply emailing an updated file to us.
Cruise data holdings go back to 1991. Counts for the most recent years are:
Ship specifications are entered into the database as they are received. The public web form previously used to submit ship specifications has been replaced by a Word document, which identifies data fields and provides unit and other descriptive information on data being requested.
Vessel specifications categorized by length as specified by FOFC for various classes follows.
The website received over 1,036,068 hits this year from over 94,846 users.
In December 2005, a working group meeting was held in Silver Springs, Maryland. It included representatives from NOAA, SCOR, POGO, ISOM, IOC/JCOMM and OCEANIC to perform the following steps per the meeting report:
A productive discussion was held during the working group meeting, resulting in a shopping list of characteristics, data structure changes and features.
On the ship specifications side, search fields are available to help find vessels by:
On the scheduling side, additional search fields allow users to find past or future cruises based on:
Feedback from the Baltic Sea Portal, the EurOcean Portal, the International Ship Operators Meeting, the Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans and others indicate that the types of data collected regarding the research vessels and their science missions needs to be revamped. We propose to rework the database to provide a simplified and condensed “General” set of specifications for all vessels. A set of more detailed specifications will then be created to accommodate the data requirements of the groups requiring them. Currently these are the Baltic Sea (BONUS) Portal group and the EurOcean portal group.
Other possible changes to consider:
Budget cuts and updated priorities within the agencies that have historically funded this project have caused our efforts to be significantly scaled back in 2004 and funding ceased completely in 2005. This has been our only source of funding for the International Research Vessels project in recent years. If you are interested in helping us modernize and continue this project, please email us at info (@) oceanic.udel.edu.
In addition to development and hosting of the International Research Vessels Portal project, we support the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS), an organization of 61 academic institutions and national laboratories involved in oceanographic research and joined for the purpose of coordinating oceanographic ships schedules and research facilities. We host their web and mail servers and assist them with their programming and web development efforts. UNOLS cruise schedule information is submitted to the existing IRVP database electronically each time a schedule is modified to ensure that the UNOLS database holdings remain synchronized with the IRVP database.
Current OCEANIC projects include:
Past projects that have been completed and archived include:
We are constantly looking for feedback and ideas to better serve the scientific community. If you would like to help, or if you have additional information on Research Vessels -- please contact us at info (@) oceanic.udel.edu