Division of Marine Operations


The mission of Marine Operations is to enable MBARI scientists and engineers to unravel the mysteries of the world’s ocean utilizing better systems, methods and technology. Marine Operations enables scientists to be successful by understanding the scientific goals, and adapting equipment and methods to achieve these goals. Marine Operations enables engineering to be successful by supporting technology development efforts and maintaining a special interactive relationship that encourages a sense of joint ownership and responsibility for the successful development of new systems for ocean science. To accomplish these goals, it is crucial that Marine Operations continually improve “at sea” methods, and is proactive in maintaining “state of the art” marine systems to support research.


The primary function of Marine Operations is to support the operation of three ships, two remotely-operated vehicles (ROVs), autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), and oceanographic instrumentation on local and Equatorial Pacific moorings.

The R/V Rachel Carson is the support vessel for ROV Ventana and AUV operations. It conducts day trips on an average of four days per week. The vessel is also utilized for maintaining environmental moorings, collecting time series data along the California current, and supporting scuba divers as they study near-shore habitats.

The R/V Western Flyer is the support vessel for ROV Doc Ricketts and is primarily utilized for operations of 3 to 5 days. Extended voyages of two to three months’ duration are planned annually.

The R/V Paragon provides convenient access to near coastal waters.

Our ROV pilots, ships’ crews, technicians, and master machinists also design and construct science tools and samplers in cooperation with MBARI scientists and engineers. Our staff is dedicated to furthering the science and engineering endeavors of MBARI, and providing quality service and safe operations to its employees, adjuncts, and collaborators.

At Sea

Research Vessel Western Flyer
R/V Western Flyer cruise planning
Checklist of Supplies
Cruises outside home port
Data and video: formats and specifics
Departure/arrival times
early departure
Hazardous materials
Precruises and postcruises
ROV dive time definitions
RHIB operations
ROV users checklist
Science party guidelines
Scuba diving
Ship to shore communications
Research Vessel Rachel Carson
R/V Rachel Carson cruise planning
Research Vessel Paragon
Emergencies and contacts
Onboard documents and logs
Policies and operating guidelines
Marine operations policies
Departure/arrival times
Early departure
Elevator payload limits
Equipment design guidelines
Hazardous materials
Homer beacon policies
Lab use and chemical safety
NILSPIN ™ oceanographic ropes
Push core policies and description
RHIB operations
Rigging policy
Science party size
Cruise planning
Marine operations policies
Remotely operated vehicles
ROV Ventana
ROV Doc Ricketts
Mini remotely operated vehicle (ROV)
Autonomous underwater vehicles
Gulper autonomous underwater vehicle
Seafloor mapping AUV
Long-range autonomous underwater vehicle Tethys
Investigations of imaging for midwater autonomous platforms
Benthic Rover
Autonomous surface vehicles
Wave Glider
Wave Glider-based communications hotspot
2020 Expeditions
2019 Expeditions
2018 Expeditions
2017 Expeditions
2016 Expeditions
2015 Expeditions
2014 Expeditions
2013 Expeditions
2012 Expeditions
Cabled observatory
About MARS
MARS contacts
MARS science experiments
Ocean Soundscape
Soundscape Listening Room
MARS hydrophone data
How to connect to MARS
MARS contacts
How to interface
MARS site description
MARS instrument deployment
MARS biology
MARS technology
MARS connector wiring
MARS node description
More ocean observatory resources
Local notice to mariners
Mooring data
Research tools
Administration & planning
Marine operations technicians