Site: Institute of Oceanographic Sciences
Deacon Laboratory
Brook Road, Wormley
Godalming, Surrey GU8 5UB
United Kingdom
Telephone: Wormley (0428) 684141
Fax: (0428) 683066
Telex: 858833 Oceans G

Date Visited: May 11, 1993

Report Author: B. Mooney



D. Blidberg
C. Brancart
L. Gentry
B. Mooney


Dr. Peter G. Collar
Dr. Keith H. Scrimshaw


Deacon Laboratory is a major United Kingdom deep water laboratory. It is the international headquarters for WOCE. Recent past efforts have included a multilayered numerical model of the Southern Ocean, which will eventually extend to global oceans. The forte of the Deacon Laboratory is interdisciplinary deep ocean science, including both modelling and observations, closely supported by innovative technology. The current thrusts of the laboratory involve marine physics, chemistry, biology, geophysics, and geology. Ocean tools developed there include GLORIA and TOBI.

Deacon Laboratory is funded at a level of about £9 million a year by the National Environment Research Council. There are plans for Deacon Laboratory to move in the next year or two to Southampton and co-locate with the University of Southampton. Deacon Laboratory employs about 200 people, 120 of whom are scientists or engineers. The technology group is composed of 45 people.

Deacon Laboratory is one of four marine science laboratories in the United Kingdom. The others are: Oban in northwest Scotland, and Plymouth and Proudman in Liverpool. Facilities at the Deacon Laboratory include a tow tank and pressure testing facilities. Deacon Laboratory has close ties with the laboratories of the Defense Research Establishment, with academia and with industry.


Deacon Laboratory is involved in a Marine Science and Technology collaborative project supported by the European Commission. The other participants are IFREMER (France), INRIA (France), the Defense Research Agency (U.K.), the National Technical University of Athens (Greece), and the Instituto Hidrográfico (Portugal).

A major project at Deacon is the Autosub project, which may involve as many as three autonomous undersea vehicles. The present thrust of the project is the development of a demonstrator test vehicle, which will have full ocean depth capability (6,000 m). Two follow-on vehicles are envisioned: Dolphin, also a 6,000 m AUV, will follow a vertically undulating path taking oceanographic measurements in the water column. Whenever it surfaces it will receive navigation data from GPS and any desired reprogramming down to the module level. While on the surface, through the second of two antennae, it will transmit oceanographic data gathered and its geographical position. The task is to cross the Atlantic gathering data as it proceeds. The third AUV, tentatively dubbed DOGGIE, is being designed for sea floor exploration with missions of three to five days at about 5 knots.

The Autosub project commenced in 1988. Several workshops that are part of the Autosub project asked scientists for requirements that such AUVs might satisfy. This resulted in the commissioning of 20 studies. The Autosub project receives about £750,000 in funding per year. These project funds have enabled the development of a dynamometer capable of working submerged and under pressure to determine speed, torque, and efficiency of the brushless motor that drives contra-rotating propellers via seawater lubricated ceramic bearings. This community research program led by Deacon Laboratory involves industry, the Defense Research Agency, and academia.

The Autosub project has four phases:

Phase I:
Focusing on pressure hull (carbon fiber), buoyancy control at depth, propulsion, hydrodynamic coefficients (from 3/4 scale model), GPS navigation. The critical path includes pressure hull and variable buoyancy control.

Phase II:
Subsystem technology development will determine the design. Batteries have been selected as the energy source.

Phase III:
The main thrust of this phase is to produce the demonstrator test vehicle. The goal for this is 1997.

Phase IV:
Evolution to Dolphin and DOGGIE.

The Autosub project at this time is examining the use of correlation sonar, subsea navigation, and low drag research. The project intends to use off the shelf electronic hardware.


The Autosub project dominated the team's conversations at Deacon Laboratory.


1991-1992 Report of the Institute of Oceanographic Sciences

. Deacon Laboratory.

Scientific Autonomy in the Deep Ocean - Autosub. Brochure.

Nautilus. Newsletter of the Autosub CRP. Issues 1-5.

Published: June 1994; WTEC Hyper-Librarian