National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

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National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, UK

The National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (NOCS) describes the integrated collaboration between the Southampton-based part of the Natural Environment Research Council’s National Oceanography Centre, and University of Southampton's School of Ocean and Earth Science (SOES). Opened in 1996 as the Southampton Oceanography Centre by Prince Philip (he also renamed it the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, in 2005), NOCS is located near the Ocean Village development in the dock area of Southampton. It is one of a group of centres specialising in marine science, earth science and marine technology, and provides a platform for interdisciplinary research (such as the Autosub Under Ice programme)[1] alongside a comprehensive teaching facility.


National Oceanography Centre, Southampton at sunset

The centre can trace its origins back to the years immediately after Second World War, when the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) was founded.[2] Prior to 1 May 2005, NOCS was known as the Southampton Oceanography Centre (SOC). The name was changed to reflect the Centre's prominence in ocean and earth sciences within the UK.

The Centre's inaugural director from 1994-1999 was John Shepherd, a former Deputy Director of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and an Earth system scientist.[3]


NOCS consists of the University of Southampton’s SOES academic unit, together with five NERC research divisions and the NERC's National Marine Facilities Sea Systems. In addition to housing some 520 research scientists and staff, over 700 undergraduate and postgraduate students are taught or undertake research at NOCS.[4] NOCS's on-site resources include the UK National Oceanographic Library, the nationally important Discovery Collections and the British Ocean Sediment Core Repository.

Research vessels[edit]

RRS Discovery inbound to Southampton

NOCS is the base for the purpose-built research vessels RRS Discovery and RRS James Cook (and formerly RRS Charles Darwin).

Research activity[edit]

On 1 February 2010 the merger of NOCS and the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory, Liverpool was announced. The combined institute is known as the National Oceanography Centre. The new combined centre brings together a full range of deep ocean and coastal oceanographic expertise.

On 25 March 2010 an expedition aboard the RRS James Cook set out to study the world's deepest volcanic rift.[5] On the 12th April it was reported the expedition had discovered the world's deepest undersea volcanic vents, known as 'black smokers', 5,000 metres (3.1 mi) down in the Cayman Trough in the Caribbean.[6][7][8]


  1. ^ Griffiths, G. (March 2005). "Autosub Under Ice". Ingenia (22). Retrieved 2008-12-02. 
  2. ^ "History of the National Institute of Oceanography". Retrieved 1 May 2013. 
  3. ^ "Professor John Shepherd FRS". NOCS. Retrieved 5 September 2013. 
  4. ^ "About NOCS". NOCS. Retrieved 2008-10-07. 
  5. ^ "Expedition heads for world’s deepest undersea volcanoes". National Oceanography Centre. Retrieved 2010-04-12. 
  6. ^ "British scientific expedition discovers world’s deepest known undersea volcanic vents". National Oceanography Centre. Retrieved 2010-04-12. 
  7. ^ "World's deepest undersea vents discovered in Caribbean". BBC News. 2010-04-12. Retrieved 2010-04-12. 
  8. ^ "British scientific expedition discovers world's deepest known undersea volcanic vents". Retrieved 2010-04-12. 

External links[edit]