Accessing Planet Ocean: Why MARV Matters

JWhite“To know the sea, we must go to sea.  The Global Oceans MARV approach may well provide a new, cost effective model for sea-based environmental data collection and sensor deployment.  As our ocean continues to change in concert with the atmosphere and climate, the need for ocean observations and data collection is only growing – while the financial resources for this important work are not.  The national and global ocean science and technology communities must consider all innovative options and models for data collection, and this one certainly has promise.”

RADM Jonathan W. White, USN (ret.), President and CEO, Consortium for Ocean Leadership, Washington, DC, USA

DJBaker“Global Oceans is proposing innovative ideas about providing support for ocean research. I’m impressed with their approach…the budget crunch makes higher efficiency essential.”

D. James Baker, Ph.D., Former Administrator, NOAA; former Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere, U.S. Department of Commerce


RHood“The Global Oceans model supports and aligns very well with everything we are trying to do in the 2nd International Indian Ocean Expedition. We think their involvement could be crucial to getting the resources we need into the Indian Ocean within the 2015-2020 timeframe.”

Raleigh Hood, Ph.D. Professor, Biological Oceanography, University of Maryland, Center for Environmental Science, College Park, Maryland, USA; Committee Chair, SIBER Indian Ocean Research Planning Committee, and Science Plan Co-Author for the 2nd International Indian Ocean Expedition (IIOE-2)



The vastness of the ocean creates significant challenges of access for manned research platforms, especially for access to remote regions, the open ocean and the deep sea. In practice, research proposals and exploration planning become self-limiting – a function of what is feasible to do with available platforms and associated science assets, which are increasingly limited both in number and funding support.

The Modular Adaptive Research Vessel (MARV) strategy developed by Global Oceans is designed to expand the geospatial footprint and frequency of manned missions in the world’s oceans. It leverages a large worldwide base of private-sector assets worth billions of dollars – ships, modular workspace systems, port services management, remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and many other resources – that can be chartered, rented and adapted, on a short-term basis, for scientific research. The globally distributed pool of state-of-the-art, global class offshore service vessels (OSVs) from 50 to 100 meters in length are in such abundant supply that  they are an economic commodity.

Text3To productively enable these resources and align them with scientific and institutional requirements, Global Oceans has developed a “networked” model based on principles of supply chain integration and public-private sector collaboration. This provides a coordinated organizational mechanism and transaction bridge to these commercial sector assets on behalf of the research community that does not otherwise exist.

As an independent, nonprofit global resource that cuts across institutional administrative silos that schedule and manage traditional research vessels, Global Oceans can readily assemble and operate international scientific expeditions with collaborating scientists from anywhere in the world. Fully functional research platforms can now be mobilized and deployed within a region of study and the number, frequency and location of multiple expeditions can be scaled to the need.

The MARV approach is also a strategy that eliminates the need for significant capital investment and sustained cost associated with large, owned research vessels. Instead, expedition costs are incremental to each project and optimized by the commercial marketplace – and more funding can be invested in innovative research and exploration tools and modular scientific “payloads” that can be economically shipped to regionally-deployed MARVs.

Ben_Fitzpatrick2Ben Fitzpatrick, Ph.D., Director, Oceanwise Australia; Member IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management – On the Global Seamount Assessment Program (GSAP) initiative:

“Seamounts are known to support extensive and potentially unique deep-water biodiversity, including thousand-year-old corals and other marine life found nowhere else, as well as significant aggregations of pelagic billfish, tuna, sharks, manta rays and whales. The vast majority of these ecosystems are undescribed and predominantly found in isolated and difficult-to-access regions in international waters – and they are increasingly being impacted by fishing, seabed mining, and climate change.

“Global Oceans is forging a new approach to adapting existing, regionally-deployed infrastructure for this project with its MARV strategy, and is mobilizing international scientific collaboration to support it. This major expedition series will provide a new, integrated understanding of these highly productive ecosystems, one of the least understood on earth. It couldn’t come sooner.”

A Directed Resource: Leveraging MARV Capacity

Global Oceans is focusing the MARV strategy on applications that will contribute to transforming scientific understanding.

The criteria used for achieving this impact is where three factors intersect: 1) scientific research most critical for understanding ocean systems and global-scale change; 2) where scaled-up application of new and innovative technologies for ocean research, as enabled by MARV platforms, will significantly increase scientific output; and 3) where creative global collaboration is critical to solving large challenges.

Global Oceans’ four program focus areas are at the intersection of these factors:

Bullet1The Global Seamount Assessment Program (GSAP) is an international, global-scale proposal that will align data scope and resolution strategy with environmental and ecosystem modeling, at the cutting edge of systems analysis and complexity theory, to better predict human and environmental impact on one of the largest biomes on the planet.

Bullet1The Enabling Arctic Science Program is focused on mobilizing, through a collaborative Arctic MARV strategy being developed with the Arctic Futures Initiative and others, an expanded platform for research, observation and monitoring in the Arctic Ocean. Facilitating greater scientific access to the Arctic is increasingly critical, where the convergence of climate change and pending human impact is disproportionately large.

Bullet1The Scientific Seafloor Coring Program is a partnership with private industry that brings two innovative modular seafloor coring systems on line for research. Designed to fill a void in intermediate core length scientific drilling capacity, the research that is being enabled will answer questions about global climate and sea level change and will explore the deep biosphere.

Bullet1The 2nd International Indian Ocean Expedition (IIOE-2), in which Global Oceans is a partner, is a five-year high-tech research initiative to understand the Indian Ocean basin – from ecosystem biodiversity to its role in climate change. IIOE-2 is globally-collaborative and also presents an opportunity to increase regional scientific expertise within emerging economies. The integrated, mission-adaptive nature of Global Oceans’ MARV strategy, the GOCEPT platform, and private-sector technology partnerships will help to manage the operational complexity and to achieve the scale of a fully-executed IIOE-2 Science Plan.