RRS James Cook JC166 (JC167)

Cruise summary report

Cruise Info. 
Ship name (ship code)RRS James Cook (740H)
Cruise identifierJC166 (JC167)
Cruise period2018-06-19 — 2018-07-06
Port of departureSouthampton, United Kingdom
Port of returnSouthampton, United Kingdom
ObjectivesJC166-167 combined two sets of activities: the delivery of scientific research funded through the NERC National Capability programme CLASS, and training & equipment trials for the engineers of the MARS group within NOC. The work was carried out in two main research areas west of Cornwall: the Greater Haig Fras Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ), and the Whittard Canyon submarine canyon complex. Both research areas are major study sites within the CLASS programme, and specifically the work at Haig Fras was one of the main deliverables of the programme for 2018.
Haig Fras is the only rocky reef on the Celtic Shelf, west of Cornwall. The Greater Haig Fras area was designated an (MCZ) in 2016 to protect this unique site and its mosaic of rock and sedimentary habitats. To demonstrate the use of autonomous survey methods for the monitoring of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and improve our understanding of the natural variability of this mosaic habitat, NOC has set up a series of repeat AUV surveys (multibeam echosounder, sidescan sonar, photography) over the area, with a 3 year cycle.
The Whittard Canyon system on the Celtic Margin is a key area to achieve an understanding of the interaction between coastal & shelf waters and the open ocean. The heterogeneous terrain of submarine canyons has a strong influence on oceanographic processes, focusses the transport of sediments, organic matter and nutrients, can create a series of potential geohazards and tends to support an increased diversity in habitats and species. Part of the Whittard Canyon system was declared an MCZ in 2013, protecting, amongst others, both healthy and heavily impacted cold-water coral reefs from further human impacts.
The equipment trials and personnel training covered a range of systems, including the ROV Isis, AUV Autosub6000, a wave-glider, a deep glider, the ASV C-worker and a drone. Overall, the aims of the cruise were four-fold:
- Re-survey of the Haig Fras site (for the CLASS project)
- Training of ROV and AUV engineers
- Equipment trials
- Acquisition of opportunistic data from Whittard Canyo
Chief scientistMaaten Furlong (National Oceanography Centre, Southampton), Veerle A Huvenne (National Oceanography Centre, Southampton)
Cruise reportRRS James Cook JC166 (JC167) cruise report jc166.pdf (14.20 MB) 
Ocean/sea areas 
GeneralEnglish Channel
Celtic Sea
Bay of Biscay
SpecificCeltic Sea (Haig Fras), Bay of Biscay (Whittard Canyon)
Track chartsRRS James Cook JC166 (JC167) cruise track — jc166trk.pdf (2.69 MB) 
Physical oceanography 
Other physical oceanographic measurementsQuantity: number of profiles = 4
Description: SVP
Other physical oceanographic measurementsQuantity: activity duration in days = 11
Description: Deep glider deployment (trials)
Other physical oceanographic measurementsQuantity: activity duration in days = 2
Description: Wave glider deployments (trials)
Geology and geophysics 
Bottom photographyQuantity: number of dives = 6
Description: ROV dives
Bottom photographyQuantity: number of dives = 2
Description: HyBIS tows
Geophysical measurements made at depthQuantity: number of dives = 3
Description: Autosub6000 missions
Single channel seismic reflectionQuantity: survey square kilometres = 3750
Description: EM122 and EM710 multibeam data