Two modern ice strengthened Royal Research Ships support the British Antarctic Survey's Antarctic operations. While both ships can perform logistics and science support roles, RRS James Clark Ross with some of Britain's most advanced facilities for oceanographic research is the platform for most of the marine science undertaken. RRS Ernest Shackleton is primarily a logistic ship, used for the resupply of the Survey's stations with occasional science and specialist tasking.
The ships are registered at Stanley in the Falkland Islands.
In September/October of each year both vessels sail from the UK and return the following May/June. After annual refit/drydock, RRS James Clark Ross undertakes scientific research on behalf of other organisations (often in the Arctic) while RRS Ernest Shackleton is chartered into commercial survey work. At the end of this northern summer work they load cargo and science equipment in the Humber for return to the Antarctic.