Plan an Expedition

Preparing for a seagoing expedition involves many months (often years) of planning. There are many forms and documents to prepare; there are many criteria to be met and logistical issues to sort out; there are even issues of personal preparation. The most successful research cruises are typically the ones that are planned early, with an awareness of both the big picture and the fine details.

Proposal Preparation

It is important for potential users to discuss their requirements with NDSF personnel listed below and/or in the CONTACTS section, or simply start with NDSF Users Support (, early in the proposal preparation process. In the meantime, we strongly encourage potential users to read the UNOLS cruise planning guideline page.

Once your cruise is funded and scheduled, chief scientist and expedition leader(s) from NDSF vehicle operations team will become points of contact.

Chief Scientist

  • The chief scientist is the primary point of contact for NDSF personnel to become familiar with the objectives of the cruise. It is therefore of the utmost importance that the Chief Scientist establish a good line of communication early in the planning process to ensure that the appropriate actions are taken by the operational group. First contact may be with NDSF user support and the Chief Scientist of Deep Submergence, but subsequent information flow is primarily with Expedition Leader of the vehicle programs.
  • For HOV Alvin cruises, please file cruise objectives via the Cruise Planning Questionnaire at an early stage in cruise preparations

Expedition Leader

  • Works with the Chief Scientist through the NDSF operations coordinators to gain a full understanding of the cruise objectives
  • For ROV Jason and AUV Sentry cruises, communicate with Chief Scientist to set up the first dive planning meeting.
  • For HOV Alvin operations, ensures that all of the science objectives listed on the Questionnaire are addressed and understood
  • Formal at-sea liaison between the Chief Scientist and operations team

Pre-Cruise Communications with Vehicle Programs

  • Follow up any action items from the pre-cruise meeting
  • Intended to establish formal dialogue about cruise-specific engineering and data requirements
  • Can be held at WHOI with the Chief Scientist and operational team and/or via conference call
  • Minimally, the meeting is held three months prior to a cruise.

During Cruise

"Tips for going to sea" is available here.

Please provide any feedback to the Expedition Leader regarding operations related concerns.

Post Cruise

Please fill out and submit vehicle specific Post Cruise Assessment Form (PCAR) via UNOLS page.

Cruise Planning Timeline

Advance Time
(before departure)
Task Role Relevant Link Contact
12-18 months Cruise Scheduling Prospective Investigator Scheduling Kerry Strom
Marine Ops.
(508) 289-3938

6 months

Cruise Planning Questionnaire Chief Scientist/PI Cruise Planning Questionnaire Bruce Strickrott
(508) 289-3860
Jason and Sentry

4-6 months

Pre-Cruise Conference Call & Meeting for dive planning Chief Scientist/PI Masako Tominaga
(508) 289-2871
Jason and Sentry

(Initial advance time)

Overall Logistics Chief Scientist/PI
and/or Science Party
Cathy Offinger
(Initial advance time)
Hazardous Material Chief Scientist/PI
and/or Science Party
Hazardous Material & Port Logistics for Vehicle Operations Kevin Kavanagh
(508) 289-2995