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.