Operation Area of the Vessels

German Research Vessels Portal

In the field of basic marine research, Germany has a very efficient fleet of research vessels at its disposal. As universal platforms, the vessels facilitate research in all marine science disciplines and in the waters of all oceans.

This portal provides a platform for scientists working at publicly funded research institutions (universities, institutions of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, institutions of the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Scientific Association, institutes of the Max Planck Society, and subordinate federal authorities) to submit cruise proposals for the research vessels POLARSTERN, METEOR, SONNE, MARIA S. MERIAN, ALKOR, HEINCKE, and ELISABETH MANN BORGESE. Proposals for secondary use of RV POLARSTERN are accepted also from scientists who are employed at a research institution outside Germany. The decision on which research groups will be allocated access to the research vessels is made in the framework of an evaluation procedure based on scientific criteria.

The evaluation of cruise proposals is carried out by a joint evaluation process since autumn 2017. For further information, please refer to the subpage "Evaluation".

Short cruise of one to three working days aiming at the test of scientific equipment under development can be requested directly at the ship operators (see subpage "Contact").

News and Announcements

The global Covid 19 epidemic also has an impact on the allocation of ship time, ship operation and the Status Conference Research Vessels.

Status Conference Research Vessels 2020
The Status Conference Research Vessels 2020, originally scheduled for March 24-25, 2020, at ICBM Oldenburg, will not be held this year due to the corona pandemic and the continuing contact restrictions. The scientific contributions of the conference were summarized in a conference proceedings, which can be downloaded here.

Additional call for proposals for the research ships METEOR and MARIA S. MERIAN in order to react to the pandemic
For the last quarter of 2020 and for 2021, there is a clear risk that the pandemic-related national and international travel restrictions will remain in force and that already planned cruises have to be canceled. Even under these circumstances, research can be carried out to a certain extent on the research ships METEOR and MARIA S. MERIAN. In this context, the GPF announces an additional call; exceptionally, cruise proposals can be submitted outside the usual submission deadlines. The cruise proposals have to meet the conditions listed below. As usual, the cruise proposals are reviewed externally and evaluated by the GPF. A corresponding decision from the GPF can be expected by the end of July 2020. Positively reviewed cruise proposals in the context of this additional call will remain in the cruise planning pool even if the travel restrictions are lifted.

The following conditions must be met:

  • The start and end port is Emden.
  • The work area should be in international or German waters. Provided that the diplomatic application deadlines are short, cruises to other countries' EEZs can also be requested.
  • The work area is located outside of waters identified as arctic by polar code.
  • The number of participants is limited to 13 participants.
  • The cruise participants must be resident in Germany (no participants from institutes abroad).
  • The maximum operating time including transit time from Emden to the working area and back is 30 days.
  • The cruise proposal must be feasible all year round (no seasonal commitment).
  • The cruise proposal must be feasible without large equipment (no use of ROV, AUV, MeBo).

Cruise proposals in connection with this call must be submitted by June 8, 2020 (10:00 a.m.) via the submission system of the Portal deutsche Forschungsschiffe following the link www.portal-forschungsschiffe.de/fahrtvorschlaege/submit. Further information on preparing cruise proposals can be found following the link www.portal-forschungsschiffe.de/fahrtvorschlaege/leitfaden.

Ship operation
Due to worldwide travel restrictions, many of the cruises already planned for 2020 can no longer be carried out. The research vessels SONNE, METEOR and MARIA S. MERIAN have returned to Germany and are currently standing by at the port of Emden. From mid-May to mid-June 2020, the research vessels SONNE and MARIA S. MERIAN will be deployed to support the MOSAiC expedition. During this period, planned repair and maintenance work for the FS METEOR will take place at the Emden Dockyard GmbH. If possible, cancelled cruises will be included in the cruise planning again at later date without the need to submit a new cruise proposal. Cruises that were granted in transit tenders and have now been cancelled are cancelled without replacement.

Allocation of ship time
Alternative, electronic procedures to the usual decision-making meetings are currently being developed to ensure smooth assessment within the known deadlines.

Decommission of RV POSEIDON
RV POSEIDON will be decommissioned in December 2019. As of now, no cruise proposals for RV POSEIDON will be accepted anymore.

Future Call:
Submission deadline on German Research Vessels Portal: February 28, 2020 until 10:00 a.m.
GPF Panel session: June 04-05, 2020
Feedback to proponents: after July 03, 2020