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17 October 2012


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Gwyn Griffiths

The genealogy of 'NOCS' has a few more threads and twists to add to the fine summary here.

First, one has to distinguish carefully these days between the National Oceanography Centre, which is the NERC wholly owned research centre that was the subject of the potential merger with BAS, and the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, which in current parlance is the name for the cluster of researchers and scholars, be they from NERC's NOC or from the University of Southampton's Ocean and Earth Science academic unit, who share the physical building at the University's Waterfront Campus.

National Oceanography Centre Southampton as an entity in its own right as a NERC research centre existed between April 2005 and end March 2010. On 1 April 2010 NOCS merged with the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory (itself a de-merger from IOS, and since then having relocated from Bidston to the campus of the University of Liverpool) to form the National Oceanography Centre, now NERC's only wholly owned marine research centre.

There is another thread: as a precursor of the move of IOSDL to Southampton (which by the way happened in September 2005, it was the official opening by the Duke of Edinburgh that was in 2006) and as a focus for the NERC contribution to the World Ocean Circulation Experiment, John Woods set up the James Rennell Centre for Ocean Circulation at the Chilworth campus of the University of Southampton in 1990. The JRC was staffed by people from IOSDL.

And another thread: the formation of SOC in 1995 also involved the merger of the Research Vessel Services from their base in Barry. The home port of the three Royal Research Ships Discovery, Charles Darwin and Challenger became Southampton.

Finally, the "marine biologists" that joined with Group W were from the Discovery Investigations, whose work was focussed on the the ecology and hydrology of the Southern Ocean.

Although the 2012 plans to merge the NOC and BAS have been shelved. The history and events of the last 90 years suggest that further changes will undoubtedly happen.

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