Containerised Autonomous Marine Environmental Laboratory (CAMEL)


Containerised Autonomous Marine Environmental Laboratory (CAMEL)

Deployment and use of the Containerised Autonomous Marine Environmental Laboratory (CAMEL) facility

The capacity of many Small Island Developing States to conduct marine scientific research within their extended economic zones is limited by the fact that they cannot afford to design, build and operate the research vessels required to achieve the necessary geographic coverage or sampling rate. In order to address this limitation and provide beneficiary countries and remote areas with access to state of the art scientific equipment the CME Programme has funded the development and deployment of the Containerised Autonomous Marine Environmental Laboratory (CAMEL) – a fully containerised facility that can be shipped to any port and deployed from a quayside, beach or vessel, which houses autonomous systems that can be used by SIDS to map and monitor their own marine environments.

The main feature of the CAMEL is its unmanned surface vessel (USV) that carries three easily exchangeable scientific marine sensor payloads: (i) A hydrographic payload with a high resolution multibeam echo sounder and speed of sound sensor; (ii) A geophysical payload which with a high grade side scan sonar and sub-bottom profiler system; (iii) An oceanographic payload which comprises a sensors including ADCP, CTD, pH, fluorometer, dissolved oxygen, partial CO2.  Each payload is lowered remotely through the hull of the USV after launch and other sensors can be added to the payload according to the needs of the deployment, subject to space and power requirements.

The CAMEL facility is housed within two fully-transportable ISO containers that also serve as an Operations Room and a Workshop. The Operations Room is an insulated, air-conditioned control centre for the USV and provides a location where scientists can work and analyse data. It can be powered either from shore power or from its own diesel generator, and it houses the communications equipment required for communication with the USV. Guarding can be installed on the roof of the container to provide a raised viewing platform, and an extending communication mast increases the operational range of the USV. The Workshop is powered from the Operations Room or from its own diesel generator and is well equipped to service and repair the instrumentation.  It also holds the USV securely during campaigns and during transportation. Other operational equipment contained within the facility includes a weather station, wave measuring buoy with GPS, sound velocity profiler, a micro Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), and an inflatable boat with outboard motor.

CAMEL is operated by the UK's National Marine Equipment Pool, and is available to scientists in eligible Commonwealth SIDS for undertaking their own work. During years three and four of the CME Programme the CAMEL facility will undertake its first deployments in Belize and Dominica, where it will be used to support the NOC’s Impact of land-use changes on marine environments and Habitat mapping to support marine spatial planning projects plus other programme activities.



Caribbean region (including Belize and Dominica)



Terry Wood
Principal Investigator

James Burris


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