Visit to the RRS Discovery, 9th October 2015

The RRS Discovery was in London for a few days as part of NERC's 50th anniversary celebrations. Limited tickets were available, with some available to CEH staff via a ballot. The ship previously ran the Ullapool-Stornaway route for CalMac, before being converted in 2010 at the cost of £6bn... I'm joking, of course. It was actually completed in 2013 at a cost of £68m, and is just shy of 100 metres long. For more info (including exciting tables of propulsion data!), check out this page from the National Oceanography Centre. It was moored alongisde the HMS Belfast on the south bank of the Thames - info on the event itself can be found here.

The mundane weather was a fitting backdrop for the pre-tour rubbish run.

Seen from the HMS Belfast, the Discovery was on its best behaviour.. or else.

After going into the bowels of the HMS Belfast, I came out to a miracle: glorious sunshine!

Well, if this isn't the finest 20 t. MAIN SWL I've ever seen.

Primary colours in the London sun (and the RRS Discovery soot organ)

Displaying the Blue Ensign (had to check wikipedia for that..)

High hoisting of the White Ensign (and again..)

Not a bad view from the ship's bridge - and Tower Bridge opened right on cue.

The desks at the back of the bridge had tempting buttons and joysticks..

Visilynx sounded cool. Apparently it's a "cost effective integrated video matrix system offering bi-directional over-the-coax and RS485/422 telemetry" - oh.

According to that map, we're still in The Solent..

I'm not sure what kind of situation requires these helmets, but I imagine it's a serious one.

Ahh yes, this makes sense.

I think this is the back of a satellite-internet fax machine. I'm sure that will interest someone..?

SAILOR walkie talkies. How apt.

I imagine it's fun to say these things over the intercom..

There were some worried faces until we saw the LAMPTEST was on.

All logos should try and get whales on them.

In the lab - looks a bit like that net fits onto that porthole. I imagine that's not how it works.

This thing liked to watch itself on the computer, which is a touch narcissistic if you ask me.

Everything was bathed in a yellow glow in this room - apparently it has a soothing effect on tired scientists.

This room was full of things that looked like missiles. And most seemed to be yellow..

I forgot to ask about AUTOSUB3, but you can find out more here.

These 'sea gliders' run about the ocean doing scientists' work for them - and occasionally get lost and die.

ISIS in central London. I checked, and yes, a name change has been considered (but rejected).

"Where are the photos of a new species of Hoff Crab?", you ask..

There are a load of rubbery cables on the outside of the Isis submersible. They survive at 6500m as they're full of oil..

Imagine if you woke up from a snooze to find a warship this close? Not sure you'd snooze on deck too often, mind.

Inside the Isis control 'portakabin'. Best. Portakabin. Ever.

Middle and back are two 3-jointed 'joystick arms' used to control the grabbers on Isis. They make excellent motorised noises.

I'm sure the view from the back deck isn't normally quite as tranquil as this.

Looking up at the towing rig / walkway, and thoroughly blue skies!

This is part of the excellently-named 'Candyfloss Array' - info and photos here.

This has a Thunderbird 2 vibe to it, but more environmentally friendly.

The tip of The Shard peeks over for a view.

The late evening sun was lighiting up the top of our neighbour, the HMS Belfast.

The Gherkin peering over the basking, north bank skyline.

Oceanography bunting - the wonders of internet shopping!

The tents used by BAS for Antarctic fieldwork, and an inadequate-looking hat.

Supplies vary from Swiss chocolate to 'BISCUITS BROWN' and 'INSTANT POTATO POWDER'.

The final steps offered a nicely-composed branding opportunity.

As I crossed the bridge between the two ships, it's hard not to think those guns are aimed and ready.

The Shard reveals itself in blue-skied shadowy glory.

And finally, the walk off the ships gave this view of the Tower of London.