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Oceanographic Facilities and Equipment Support

Status: Archived

Archived funding opportunity

This document has been archived. See NSF 23-525 for the latest version.

Important information for proposers

All proposals must be submitted in accordance with the requirements specified in this funding opportunity and in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) that is in effect for the relevant due date to which the proposal is being submitted. It is the responsibility of the proposer to ensure that the proposal meets these requirements. Submitting a proposal prior to a specified deadline does not negate this requirement.

Supports the procurement, conversion, enhancement or annual operation of ocean, coastal, near-shore and Great Lakes facilities used for research and education.


Oceanographic facilities and equipment are supported by the Integrative Programs Section (IPS) of the Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE), Directorate for Geosciences (GEO).  These awards are made for the procurement, conversion and/or up-grade, enhancement or annual operation of platforms in the ocean, coastal, near-shore and Great Lakes. Awards are generally directed specifically to support facilities that lend themselves to shared use within the broad range of federally-supported research and education programs.  Most of these platforms and facilities also receive partial support from federal agencies other than NSF.  This includes state and local governments and private sources on a proportional basis usually through a daily rate mechanism. The primary objective of these awards is to ensure the availability of appropriate facilities for federally-funded investigators and educators. Individual project-based facilities and instrumentation, limited to one, or a small group of investigators, should be supported through appropriate research programs as opposed to the IPS programs listed herein.

The individual programs covered within this solicitation include:

  1. Ship Operations (Ship Ops)
  2. Oceanographic Technical Services (Tech Services)
  3. Oceanographic Instrumentation (OI)
  4. Shipboard Scientific Support Equipment (SSSE)
  5. Ship Acquisition and Upgrade (SAU)
  6. Other Facility Activities (OFA)

Ship Operations (Ship Ops): The NSF Ship Operations Program provides support for costs associated with the operation and maintenance of vessels in the U.S. Academic Research Fleet (ARF).  Allowable costs include salaries and related expenses of crew members and marine operations staff; acquisition of minor or expendable equipment; maintenance, overhaul and repairs; insurance; and direct operating costs such as fuel, food, supplies, travel, and pilot and agent fees. Shore-side facilities and support costs are provided only to the extent that they relate directly to ship operations.  Ship Operations support requests must be directly attributable to NSF-sponsored science.

Oceanographic Technical Service (Tech Services): The Tech Services Program provides support of institutional technical services to enhance the scientific productivity of research programs using major facilities, primarily research vessels. Research vessel technical services include quality assurance, scheduling of technical support, logistical assistance, and at-sea supervision of the instrumentation and shared-use equipment available to sea-going researchers. This program also provides baseline operational support for the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) equipment pools (wire, vans and winches). Support of research vessel technical services and UNOLS equipment pools includes salaries and related expenses, maintenance and calibration of sensors and instrumentation, and associated travel. Oceanographic technical services support requests must be directly attributable to NSF-sponsored science. With the exception of the wire pool, requests for new or replacement capital equipment must be made through the Shipboard Scientific Support Equipment (SSSE) program, so they can be evaluated in panel.

Oceanographic Instrumentation (OI): The OI Program provides support to enhance the scientific capabilities and productivity of seagoing research projects that use major facilities, primarily research vessels. Proposals may include shared-use instrumentation for the collection, processing and analysis of oceanographic data. Typical instrumentation includes sensors, acoustic systems, data loggers, water sampling rosettes, biological net systems, coring equipment and auto-analyzers. Proposals must be for instrumentation that will support multiple research projects. OI proposals are generally submitted by the Tech Services manager whose operational funding is provided through the Technical Services Program in Ocean Science.  

Shipboard Scientific Support Equipment (SSSE): The SSSE Program provides support to improve safety and enhance scientific capabilities and productivity of seagoing research programs that use major facilities, primarily research vessels. Proposals may include new permanent or portable equipment required to outfit a vessel to conduct oceanographic research as well as overhaul of equipment previously funded under this program including science handling systems (winches, frames, cranes, etc.), navigation and communication equipment, and safety and regulatory-related items. Requests for purchase of new winch pool or van pool capital equipment must be submitted to this program.  SSSE proposals are generally submitted by the institution’s Marine Superintendent whose operational funding is provided through the Ship Operations Program in Ocean Sciences. There are enough differences in organizational structure throughout the fleet to make combining the SSSE and OI programs problematic. In addition, the average cost for SSSE requests are orders of magnitude more than average OI requests. In the interest of having similar size proposals competing against each other, the SSSE and OI programs will remain separate. 

Ship Acquisition and Upgrade (SAU):  In coordination with interagency agreements and broader Academic Research Fleet modernization requirements, OCE periodically makes awards for the acquisition, design and construction, modification (either capability enhancement or Service Life Extension), or conversion of research vessels. These awards are dependent upon the availability of funds appropriated for this purpose and are made only on strong evidence of scientific need for a new or reconditioned vessel. 

Other Facility Activities (OFA):  OCE supports specialized facility operations (i.e. National Deep Submergence Facility), University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) functions, Early-Career Chief Scientist Training Cruises, workshops and other facilities enhancement and developmental activities. All projects must focus on shared-use capabilities for the ocean science research community.

Compliance with the UNOLS Research Vessel Safety Standards (RVSS) is mandatory under these programs and will be more fully described in the cooperative agreement or grant terms and conditions.

Program contacts

James F. Allan
jallan@nsf.gov (703) 292-8144 GEO/OCE
Rose Dufour
(Ship Operations)
rdufour@nsf.gov 703-292-8811
James Holik
(Tech Services, OI and SSSE)
jholik@nsf.gov 703-292-7711
Brian Midson
(SAU and OFA)
bmidson@nsf.gov 703-292-8145
Bauke Houtman
(SAU and OFA)
bhoutman@nsf.gov 703-292-7704

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