Safety standards and quality assurance in research programs
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Research vessels (RVs) are complex and costly platforms for data collection and data handling in marine science. The RVs must be built, maintained, manned and operated in accordance with laws and regulations developed by individual nations and international organizations, and at the same time be functional and safe for the marine scientists to use in their field work in addition to be cost effective for the owners and operators of the vessels. This paper discusses some aspects of this, with special emphasis on safety and quality, two of the most important factors concerning the operation and use of research vessels. Both the scientists using the vessel as a platform and tool for their field work, the sailors manning the vessels and the agency managing the vessel must work in close cooperation in order to ensure safe and costeffective cruises. Some of the available tools and means to achieve this are the ISM-code, the ISO 9000 and 14000 series quality assurance procedures, health requirements, STCW 95 training requirements and procedures for instrument calibration, which is discussed in some detail in this paper. The need for internationally agreed standards and procedures for vessel operations, data collection and calibration of systems is also focused on. In addition a short description of existing groups of RV operators is given.