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The JOIDES Resolution is a drilling vessel with sophisticated drilling tools and science facilities, the ability to deploy almost six miles of drill string, and an ice-strengthened hull. This makes it possible to conduct scientific ocean drilling expeditions in extreme environments.

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The ship was built in 1978 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and began operations as the Sedco/BP 471. In 1984, it was converted into a floating scientific research laboratory for the Ocean Drilling Program (ODP), participating in Legs 100–210 until 2003. The same vessel was used by the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) from 2004 to 2005, carrying out Expeditions 301, 303–309, and 311–312. In 2007, the vessel underwent an extreme makeover in Singapore, replacing the living quarters and laboratory structures and making service-life extension repairs and upgrades. The drilling capabilities that make this vessel special and the upgrades that were made in 2007 are described below.

Coring Operations

During normal operations, drilling and science activities continue 24 hours a day. A typical ship’s complement consists of ~60 scientists and technicians and 65 crew members. Everyone works on 12-hour shifts, seven days a week.

A dynamic positioning system, supported by 12 powerful thrusters, uses computers to maintain the ship over a specific location. The ship can drill in water depths up to 8,235 meters and can suspend as much as 9,150 meters of pipe to the seafloor. The drilling process is controlled from the rig floor, a platform in the center of the ship. The pipe racker, located aft of the drill floor, stores the pipes. One joint of drill pipe measures 9.5 meters. The crew makes a stand of drill pipe by assembling three joints at a time. On the rig floor, a mechanical device called an iron roughneck makes up the drill string by connecting stands of pipe. The crew lowers the assembled drill pipe from the drill floor through the moonpool, an ~7 meter opening that extends through the bottom of the ship. The process of lowering the drill string takes ~12 hours in 5,500 m of water. After the crew lowers the drill string to the seafloor, coring operations begin. The drill crew lowers core barrels through the drill pipe. To core through the seafloor, the entire drill string is rotated. The core barrels retrieve and store the core material cut by the drill bit. On average, the core barrel takes about 90 minutes to complete one round trip. When it returns to the rig floor, technicians recover the long cylinder of sediment or rock. Deep holes often require several changes of drill bits. Each change of drill bit requires that the entire drill string be brought up, stand by stand, until the bit can be changed at the bottom of the string. With a new bit in place, the crew must reassemble the string before it reenters the hole. A reentry cone that is lowered through the moonpool and set on the seafloor enables the drill string to reenter the hole several times. A sophisticated system of scanning sonar equipment and an underwater television camera guide the drill string into the hole.


Overview Graphics


  • 27% increase in overall square footage of science facilities
  • 34% increase in laboratory spaces, including office and conference rooms
  • 60 berths reserved for scientists and technical support staff
  • See the individual labs for instruments and measurement capabilities

Safety & Environmental Systems

  • Elevated bridge integrated with Dynamic Positioning (DP)
  • New Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning (HVAC) forward and aft
  • All forward spaces and IODP heavy tool store air conditioned and heated
  • New 70-man lifeboats and davits
  • New water maker (vapor compression) to handle the additional manning and freshwater sanitary system
  • New potable water tank
  • Renewed class certificates (5 years to next dry dock)
  • New gas detection system
  • Better hazardous materials storage (permanent fire protection)
  • Infrared camera system for better security
  • New galley hood with fixed firefighting system
  • New marine sanitation device and vacuum toilet system
  • New safety equipment, smoke hoods, SCBAs, survival suits, and lifejackets
  • New Fast Rescue Craft (FRC) / Beacon Recovery Boat
  • Improved exterior vessel lighting in work areas
  • New man rider hoists for safer moonpool operations
  • Improved waste management system: new incinerators and compactors to reduce volume of trash for easy storage and disposal
  • Zero discharge modification: gray and black water can now be routed to Drill Water Tank #1

Service Life Extension

  • Drill string
  • 5000 psi mud system
  • Spare iron roughneck
  • All DC traction motors for drilling equipment refurbished
  • New Epoch instrumentation system with the future possibility for integrated information into user accessible database for correlations to vessel science
  • Refurbished drilling equipment
    • Pipe rackers (10,887 m of 5″ pipe or 5,644 m of 6⅝″ pipe)
    • Drawworks
    • Top drives
    • Swivels
    • Crown block/traveling block
    • Dual elevator system
    • Drill line anchor
    • New EZ Torque
    • Iron roughneck
    • Mud pumps
    • Coring winch
    • Rotary table
    • Derrick
    • Passive Heave Compensator
    • Cement pump
    • LP mud system

Ship Infrastructure

  • Enhanced ship stability with an engineering design that minimizes VCG, reduces downflooding points, and utliizes lighter construction techniques
  • New superstructure for labs and quarters
  • Upgraded vessel data management system
  • Lower derrick to ease transit through the Panama Canal
  • New Panama Canal-rated anchor windlass
  • Complete overhaul of 12 thrusters
  • All propulsion motors overhauled
  • Synchronous condenser overhauled
  • New seismic deployment boom
  • Expandable Closed circuit TV system that covers:
    • Drill floor
    • Derrick operations
    • Schlumberger logging operations
    • Moonpool operations
    • Vessel security
  • Improved harsh environment capabilities
    • HVAC changes to address warm/cold environments
    • Fuel oil heaters added to allow uninterrupted work in Arctic/Antarctic environments
    • Fuel oil coalesers (filters) for additional purification while in cold waters
    • New propulsion coolers to lower propulsion temperatures in warm waters
    • upgraded crane slip rings for additional heaters for cranes


  • Ship to shore communication: enhanced VSAT infrastructure and capability to accommodate 100% uptime on VSAT for improved ship to shore communication such as video streaming, data file transfer, and shipboard system management from shore
  • GMDSS System with A4 rating
  • New general alarm system
  • New paging system
  • New sound powered phone system
  • New discrete surveillance and alarm system
  • New talkback system