Cruise Planning for Chief Scientists

For every cruise, the Chief Scientist(s) and technical staff will develop a "Science Support Plan" as a cooperative effort to capture all aspects of the survey. This document is extremely important for survey planning.

Please review the following policy and safety guidelines and pass them on to your science party.


All seagoing science party members should become familiar with the Research Vessel Operators Committee Safety Manual

At the beginning of every voyage the science party will receive a safety briefing and ship familiarization. You will receive direction on your individual role in the event of an emergency. In most cases the entire crew will participate in a safety drill.

Some Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will be provided for you on board as needed (hardhat, working life jacket, safety glasses/goggles). For access to certain areas of the working deck personal Safety Shoes (steel toed) are required and are not provided to the science party. Foul weather gear, steel toed shoes, sunglasses and sunscreen are examples of highly recommended protective equipment, but is not absolutely required.

Everyone going to sea on the Langseth is required to pack and bring the following PPE with them at a minimum to be worn as needed:

* Closed Toed Shoes (steel toed preferred)
* Long Sleeves (pants and shirts)
* Hat (to provide either/both warmth and/or sun protection)

Drugs and Alcohol:

The Office of Marine Operations at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory supports a ZERO Tolerance policy for the use, possession, distribution, or any other activity involving illegal drugs or controlled substances aboard the R/V Langseth.
In accord with the UNOLS policy It is forbidden for any person to bring any alcoholic beverages on board ; to drink to the point of intoxication; or to come on watch under the influence of any alcohol at sea or in port. Prior authorization is required to purchase souvenir alcohol in port and it will be placed in locked storage under control of the Captain.

Sexual Harassment:

Please see Columbia University's policy on Sexual Harassment :

Social conditions at sea are very different from those on land. Privacy is greatly reduced and as a result certain interactions are frequent and may be for prolonged periods. Under these conditions personal and professional boundaries may become unclear. In general, everyone must be sensitive to the altered social conditions in which they are living and working. The University policy applies to both on and off duty behavior aboard the R/V Langseth. Any person who believes they are being sexually harassed should seek resolution through discussions with the individual directly concerned. If this does not immediately resolve the matter, or if there is reluctance to deal directly with the person involved, the problem should then be brought to the attention of the Chief Scientist and the Captain at the earliest stage possible. The Captain or Chief Scientist will investigate and take appropriate steps to resolve and remedy the situation.

For more information see Columbia University's Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action .

Consensual, romantic relationships between individuals who work together are generally not considered sexual harassment and are not prohibited by University policies; however, individuals should be aware that these relationships are susceptible to being characterized as non-consensual, and even coercive, if there is an inherent power differential between the parties, and this can lead to complaints of sexual harassment. For further information, employees and students should consult the Romantic Relationship Advisory Statement More information on Columbia University Operating Policies

Foreign Clearances

Upon scheduling of a cruise, the PI will be contacted by R/V LANGSETH's Marine Science Coordinator. If foreign clearance is required, the US Department of State asks that applications be submitted to them 27 weeks in advance of the cruise. Applications for clearance to operate in foreign territorial waters or EEZs are submitted by Lamont's Office of Marine Affairs, but the Principal Investigator must provide the necessary background information, which typically includes a description of the science objectives and the methods to be used, a bibliography listing papers previously published concerning work in the area, a list of participants, a description of data to be collected, and how it will be shared with the country in question. Also required is a track map, the PI's CV and a scanned image of the PI's passport photo page. The basic document, which should be completed by the lead PI and returned to the Marine Science Coordinator is:

UN Standard Form "A"

NSF has prepared a guide for Principal investigators , which will be quite useful.

Environmental permits

All LANGSETH seismic cruises will be permitted according to the rules of the applicable agencies of US federal, state and foreign governments. The permitting processes may be quite lengthy, and it is imperative to identify the necessary permits and begin the application process as early as possible. If your cruise has a seismic component, or if it even includes the use of mapping and/or subbottom sonars, contact the Lamont Marine Safety and Environmental Coordinator:

Dr. Sean Higgins, Office: 845-365-8528 Email:

Environmental Compliance Questionnaire - Provide the information requested in document.  (PDF / DOCX).


Shipboard equipment request form should be copied from the LANGSETH web page, filled out and returned at least four months prior to the cruise. This form includes all of the scientific equipment normally provided by the OMO technical group, and supplements the information given in the UNOLS Ship Time Request form, allowing us to prepare and provide the necessary instrumentation and supplies.

Hazardous materials or chemicals:

If these are to be used during the cruise, please fill out and return the HazMat Form.

The Application to Use Radioactive Materials or Laboratory Chemicals form must be submitted by the PI at least 90 days prior to a cruise involving the use of any radioactive materials or hazardous chemicals on the RV Langseth.

Radioactive isotopes and standards are only to be used within a dedicated portable van.  Arrangements must be approved by Columbia University's Radiation Safety Officer.  

Personnel and Security:

The PI should provide a complete list of participants and briefly describe their shipboard role. Each participant should download the Medical History and Next-Of-Kin forms from the LANGSETH webpage, fill them out, and mail or fax them to the Marine Science Coordinator. When Non-US ports are scheduled, every participating US scientist must have an up-to-date passport and visas as required. All Non-US participants must have a current up-to-date national passport AND a visa that explicitly permits entry into the scheduled ports. All foreign nationals arriving at a US port aboard a ship must have a visa, even if they do not need one when arriving by air.

As of July 2003, new CFRs (Code of Federal Regulations) require all US ships to exercise positive access control. This requires a manned gangway watch, at all times. A security guard or a crewmember will permit or deny access to the ship depending upon the person's identity and business aboard. Once science crew are known and recognized, there should be little impact or inconvenience. However, newly arriving science personnel must be prepared to identify themselves with photo identification when first joining the vessel.

New U.S. Coast Guard and Department of Homeland Security regulations are being issued frequently and subject to change depending upon the current alert level. For the latest information, and how it may affect your cruise planning, please check with Paul Ljunggren ( 845-365-8845 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 845-365-8845 FREE end_of_the_skype_highlighting )



As of April 15, 2009, unescorted access to many US port facilities will be limited to persons holding a Transport Workers Identity Card [TWIC]. The rules on TWIC and instructions for application to obtain one are given in this UNOLS document . Langseth does not require a TWIC for unescorted access onboard, however non-TWIC carrying cruise participants are required to be escorted to and from the ship if in a US port facility.

Science Packages and Shipping

Any equipment sent by the science party to the ship must be clearly labeled and identified as to the recipient scientist (c/o the ship) and sender. Complete manifests must be transmitted in advance to the Lamont Office of Marine Operations. No packages, boxes, crates, backpacks, suitcases, containers, cylinders or any other type of unaccompanied baggage will be loaded on board until positively identified by a member of the science party for whom it is intended. If no one is available to vouch for a shipment when it shows up at the gangway, it will be left on the pier or returned to the warehouse, raising the possibility of delay and extra charges to the science party by agents, longshoremen, and shippers.


Internet access is available on board. The bandwidth is limited, and large file transfers are difficult and discouraged.

An opportunity for all on board to make personal calls is provided once a week. The satellite comms are available for mission-related and emergency calls at other times. Science party must arrange communications with the Chief Technician or Captain.

Agent Charges

Please be advised that any science related Agent charges will be passed on to the science project. These may include (but are not limited to):

* Shipping science gear/cargo/baggage/equipment to and from the port.
* Warehouse charges for the above.
* Customs clearance and overtime for the above.
* Transfers of science personnel to/from the airport (unless they ride along while ships crew are traveling.)
* Meeting arriving science personnel at the airport and shepherding them through Customs/Immigration.
* Handling messages, inquiries, parts runs, etc. for the science group.
* Arranging hotels, cabs, drivers, etc. for the science group.
* Postage, fax, Xerox, e-mail, and telephone charges by the Agent specifically for scientist-related requirements.

The Chief Scientist/Principal Investigator will be responsible for reimbursing Columbia University for all of these charges Frequently, Agents from foreign ports submit their invoices to us as much as six months after a port call. Therefore, PIs would be well advised to retain funds on hand for expected billings after their cruises.

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Environmental Code for Research Conduct

The Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory takes the responsibility of protecting marine mammals very seriously.

In the course of conducting acoustic research, the Langseth operates an array of sound sources generated by compressed air (air guns) to map the structure of the Earth's crust on and below the sea floor. The maps generated allow a better understanding of how the planet functions from natural hazards to climate.

Although there is little scientific data regarding the impacts of seismic research on sea life, Lamont scientists are working with experts in marine mammal behaviour to learn more information.

Standard operating procedure requires that research ships obtain permission to operate in national waters of any country, and US law requires compliance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act. A detailed environmental assessment statement is produced to determine that no significant danger will occur to the marine population. These US and foreign permits/permissions are sought over several months, simultaneously. Since 2002, Lamont has applied for and has successfully received fourteen permits to operate seismic sources of different kinds.

Prior to each expedition, knowledge of mammal activities known to the area is established so that research can be scheduled to avoid significant seasonal events, e.g. migration and calving. The ship in question observes an established safety zone for mammals appropriate to the type of seismic activity to be conducted, and in the event of a sighting, specific procedures are outlined to ramp down research so that mammals can safely move through the area. Local stranding networks may be organized to check the beaches daily to be certain that no stranding occurs. While this is considered an extremely unlikely event, LDEO wants to ensure that everything possible be done to prevent harm to marine mammals.

The Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) requires that vessel operations employing acoustic (seismic) sources adhere to a strict set of procedures designed to minimize interactions between the sources and marine mammals. Below is a brief summary:

Pre-Cruise Procedures

  • The LDEO Marine Science Coordinator obtains detailed schedules of proposed research activities and routes, and specifications of the equipment to be deployed
  • knowledge of mammal activities known to the area is established and research is scheduled to avoid significant seasonal events such as migration, breeding, and calving
  • trained marine mammal observers are appointed and bridge watch personnel are trained in sighting and identifying mammals

Cruise Procedures

(to be applied according to geographical area and need as determined by the National Marine Fisheries Service permit requirements)

  • the vessel observes an established safety zone for marine mammals appropriate to the type of acoustic activity to be conducted
  • the marine mammal observer ensures that no mammals are within the zone for at least one half hour prior to acoustic operations
  • the sound source is initially activated at the lowest possible source levels and increased at a prescribed rate (not to exceed 6 dB per 5 minutes) to allow marine mammals in the vicinity to detect, track, and avoid the sound
  • all marine mammal sightings are reported to the Mate on Watch; details regarding the sighting (e.g. species, time, activities, number of individuals, location with reference to the vessel) are reported on the official sighting form and database
  • when a designated mammal (or mammals) is observed to be within or about to enter the safety zone, the sound sources are to be deactivated immediately; once the mammals are clear of the zone the sound sources can be activated at the lowest source levels and slowly increased to prescribed rates

R/V Langseth Data Policy and Data Management

Most data collected aboard R/V Marcus G. Langseth will result from NSF-funded grants, and must therefore be handled according to the NSF Division of Ocean Sciences data and sample policy (OCE D&SP) which is available at:

It is expected that all principal investigators and chief scientists will have familiarized themselves with the rules and guidelines of this policy. The gist of the policy is that all data should be placed into publicly accessible national databases, where these exist, or made accessible by the principal investigator [PI] within 2 years of acquisition. In addition, data inventories (metadata) shall be made available to the public within 60 days.

R/V Marcus G. Langseth is operated by Lamont as a national facility on behalf of NSF, which owns the vessel. It is our mandate and desire to facilitate the data access and preservation requirements of the OCE D&SP for all data collected aboard Langseth .

Logged digital data from Langseth sensors

Many Langseth systems produce digital data (see logged data checklist.) Transfer and archiving of the logged digital data and metadata will be carried out by Langseth 's technical staff and Lamont's database support personnel.

Since the last revision of the OCE D&SP, NSF has supported the development of an integrated database for MCS data. Copies of seismic field data, integrated navigation in UKOOA format, and other seismic acquisition metadata will be transferred from Langseth to this database transparently to the PI. From the time that the data enter the database until the PI or PIs have given consent, the data are held proprietary and unavailable to all others, consistent with the OCE D&SP. Digital data logged from other core Langseth sensors, including multibeam sonar, gravity magnetics and meteorological data will also be transmitted to the Lamont Database group. They in turn will ensure that these data are deposited in appropriate national archives for long-term preservation upon PI approval, following the NSF-approved proprietary holding period. As specified in the OCE D&SP, cruise metadata, including data inventories, station and sample locations, and cruise navigation will be made publicly available, as will any other logged data released by the shipboard PIs within 60 days of cruise completion.

Other science data: Samples

Samples represent singular, usually irreproducible prizes, which will in general be taken away and analyzed by one investigator or another. At the completion of every Langseth cruise, these will be inventoried along with adequate metadata (e.g. sample ID, time, location) and their destination and recipient recorded. This information will be provided by the Chief Scientist to the Langseth technical staff for inclusion in the final cruise data report. It is thereafter the responsibility of the investigator to archive and make available these samples as described in the OCE D&SP.