Just a couple of days after the post about bacon etc. someone contacted the MBA asking for information about the RV Sarsia. A very brief review below lists the Plymouth research vessels that carried out chemical and physical work in the western English Channel and sampled plankton, fish and benthos for the all-important long-term studies.

Designed in Liverpool specifically as an offshore research vessel, and built in Dartmouth, the 39 m Sarsia came into service for the MBA in late 1953. By the end of her career in 1981 she was working all over the Celtic Sea and from the north coast of Spain to the Sognefjord in Norway.

Following Sarsia, the offshore research capacity was filled for a year by the Frederick Russell before it was converted to general oceanographic research.

Sula (1948-1972) was a 19 m ex-Naval motor fishing vessel. Sula’s duties included the daily collection of specimens, and monthly seawater samples from stations L2 – L6 and at E1 for the examination of plankton.

The crew of Sula moved onto Squilla, which operated between and 1973 and 2003.  Squilla was notorious for her propensity to wallow sickeningly in the tiniest swell.

The first Sepia was a 13 m, fast motor launch that sampled plankton from 1968 – 2004. Sepia worked alongside SquillaSquilla’s short cruise role (a few days) was taken over by Plymouth QuestSquilla suffered a terminal breakdown in autumn 2003.

In 2004 the 15.4 m inshore research vessel MBA Sepia entered service.

With the Plymouth Marine Laboratory, the MBA today operates the Plymouth Quest and the MBA Sepia. Find out more about the MBA’s facilities for researchers.

These vessels and their predecessors back to 1911 have been key in maintaining the MBA’s long term monitoring program. Slides 9 and 10 of this presentation give some information about the programme and pictures of the research vessels.

Sarsia was designed in Liverpool and now, sadly, she is sunk in the East Float dock, Birkenhead.