Research Fleet

Cruise Scheduling & Planning

Director of Marine Operations will begin accepting requests for use of Rachel Carson in November for the following calendar year. Requests for ship time can be made by completing a Request for Research Vessel Time form or by e-mail following the format of this form.


When the schedule is developed in January, requests from UMCES principal investigators with funded programs will take precedence over all requests. While every effort will be made to honor all requests, there is no guarantee that the Rachel Carson schedule will be able to accommodate all received.

Programs requesting ship time for pending contracts or initial proposals will be scheduled in the time remaining after all funded programs have been scheduled. Requests for ship time received after the cut off date will be scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis.

Vessel operating costs are billed by the hour of use, plus fuel used at pump price. The hourly rate includes the vessel, crew and some meals (depending on the length of cruise and departure time). Cost rates are reviewed and adjusted, if necessary, on an annual basis. Please contact the fleet office for current rates.

The Director of Marine Operations and his staff are available to assist in all phases of planning for cruises on Rachel Carson. For assistance, please call the fleet office or e-mail cruise requirements.

On-board Equipment

A small pool of sampling equipment is available at RFO for use by the scientific party. The equipment includes submersible pumps, bottom trawls, oyster dredge, and bottom grab, to name a few. Investigators interested in using this equipment should contact the fleet office.

Cruise Planning

When planning a cruise, it is important to remember that U. S. Coast Guard regulations stipulate that the vessel's crew can be underway for no more than 12 hours a day.

A Cruise Plan must be prepared by the Principal Investigator or Chief Scientist and submitted to the Director of Marine Operations at least one week in advance of sailing. The plan should include the following information:

  • Time of departure
  • General cruise itinerary
  • Station coordinates*
  • Number of people in scientific party
  • Gear needed from the RFO equipment pool
  • Special loading, rigging or testing requirements
  • Grant or contract number for billing

*The preferred method to receive station coordinates is in the form or a GPS eXchange Format file (.gpx) or as an MS Excel Spreadsheet file (.xlsx) sent as an e-mail attachment to the Marine Superintendent in the following configuration: stationname,xx.xxxx,-xx.xxxx  Example:  PR104, 38.0123, -76.4321

Dive Information

Diving from Rachel Carson is governed by the UMCES STANDARDS FOR SCIENTIFIC DIVING CERTIFICATION AND OPERATION OF SCIENTIFIC DIVING PROGRAMS as set forth in the UMCES Dive Manual dated August 1999. Please contact the Director of Marine Operations for additional information.