Division of Ocean Sciences - Fall 2002 Newsletter
NSF 03-014
(Replaces NSF 02-055)

Bypass Navigation

Program News

Biological Oceanography / Chemical Oceanography / Physical
/ Marine Geology and Geophysics / Ocean
Drilling Program
/ Education / Ocean Technology and
Interdisciplinary Coordination
/ Oceanographic Instrumentation
and Technical Services

Oceanographic Instrumentation and
Technical Services (OITS)

Major Research Instrumentation Program (MRI)

The deadline for MRI submittals is the fourth Thursday of January each year. The solicitation for the 2003 MRI competition is available at https://www.nsf.gov/od/oia/solicitations/start.htm. Results of the 2002 MRI competition are now posted at https://www.nsf.gov/od/oia/programs/mri/lta.htm. MRI awards by the Division of Ocean Sciences are listed together with our oceanographic instrumentation awards on the Ocean Sciences web site http://www.geo.nsf.gov/oce/ (select Award Search under Funding, then Awards by Program, and use Oceanographic Instrumentation and the relevant fiscal year to search).

For general information about MRI, refer to the solicitation or contact the Office of Integrative Activities at mri@nsf.gov. For specific information regarding Ocean Sciences-related submittals, contact Alexander Shor at ashor@nsf.gov.

Oceanographic Instrumentation Program (OIP)

Prior year OIP awards can be found at the same location as OCE MRI awards, described above. With only rare exceptions, instrumentation requests via OIP should be for shared-use instruments that will be supported by shipboard technical personnel at UNOLS operating institutions. For more information, see guidelines (NSF Publication 00-39) for this and other Ocean Sciences facilities programs at https://www.nsf.gov/cgi-bin/getpub?nsf0039. Proposals received for the September 15, 2002 deadline will be considered for support in Fiscal Year 2003.

A significant element of OIP support in 2002 was the replacement of acoustic current profilers on a number of UNOLS vessels, bringing the number of UNOLS ships to be equipped with new, phased-array, vessel-mounted current profilers by year end to at least 12.

Oceanographic Technical Services Program (OTSP)

Support under OTSP is provided by 3-year awards to UNOLS operators, with negotiated annual budgets based on actual numbers of operating days and specific scheduled requirements. Proposals for Calendar Year 2003 were due on October 15, 2002, and will be awarded during the first quarter of the new year. 2003 is the start of the next 3-year proposal cycle, so submitted proposals will undergo extensive peer review this year.

We note that UNOLS has recently completed an extensive revision of the UNOLS Cruise Assessment form, improving the questionnaire and creating an online interface that is quite straightforward. We strongly encourage researchers using the UNOLS ships, as well as the technical personnel assigned to the ships, to complete a cruise assessment for every cruise. This is the principal source of information on operational quality and concerns for operators, for the NSF Ship Inspection Program, and for the program managers in the facilities programs at sponsoring agencies. If the operator does not hear about issues that occur during a cruise, they cannot do much to prevent them from happening in the future. In the same vein, if the funding agencies do not know a problem exists aboard a vessel, then funds won’t be available when needed to correct the problem. So please fill them out, and help us improve the quality of science support across the UNOLS fleet!

One area of responsibility of OTSP that may not be well known by the user community is our responsibility for oversight of cruise planning. In addition to their responsibilities at sea, the shipboard technical services groups supported under OTSP manage cruise planning, per their program guidelines available at https://www.nsf.gov/cgi-bin/getpub?nsf0039 on pp. 25-26:

(excerpted from NSF 00-39)

A. Communications and Coordination:

1. Learn cruise objectives and what equipment and services will be required.

2. Advise users and agencies of any costs or fees for equipment and services not covered by basic funding.

3. Coordinate logistics.

4. Inform users of ship layout, capabilities, and availability of shared-use equipment, including computers, communication systems, and procedures to operate user-provided instruments and computers on the vessel.

B. Maintenance, Repair, Storage and Calibration

1. Maintain appropriate quality assurance procedures for all instrument systems including appropriate property control and use records.

2. Perform routine maintenance procedures and coordinate specialized maintenance and calibration tasks requiring service of others.

3. Maintain calibration and maintenance logs.

4. Assure proper storage of shared-use gear when not in service.

C. Shipping, Staging and Preparation

1. Prepare shared-use equipment and project-specific gear for shipment to and from ports of call.

2. Accept, prepare and control project-specific gear for staging prior to cruises.

3. Coordinate vessel loading and unloading.

D. Monitor Hardware and Software Developments.

Monitor scientific hardware and software developments and take appropriate steps to provide modern and effective common-use science capability.

E. Data Archiving.

Assist researchers in providing digital and sample data acquired with shared-use instrumentation to National Data Centers for permanent archiving in accordance with NSF Data Policy.

Individual operating institutions set their own policies about what level of pre-cruise planning is required. Procedures can be found on operating institution web sites, as well as in cruise planning manuals. Many institutions encourage (or require) participation by scientists in pre-cruise planning meetings. This is especially true for “expeditionary” programs in which the vessel is away from home port for several cruises, or logistics are complex. NSF strongly encourages participation in the cruise planning process as a means of ensuring that scientists and operators are aware of each others’ responsibilities and requirements. Information shared often results in cost and time savings for the PI, as well as providing the basis for better support at sea.

We note that costs associated with participation in cruise planning efforts are normally the PI’s responsibility, and should be budgeted as part of the research project. If schedule changes or other complications create budget difficulties associated with planning, however, the affected scientists or operators should contact the relevant research program or the OTSP program manager to see if assistance is available.

Alexander (Sandy) Shor (ashor@nsf.gov)
Holly Smith (hesmith@nsf.gov)
Sheryl Miller (smiller@nsf.gov)