50th Marine Measurement Forum - A resounding success


The 50th Marine Measurement Forum (MMF50) was held in the Princess Royal Gallery at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth on 12 June 2012. It was hosted by the MMF Steering Group and, to celebrate the 50th milestone, took a slightly different approach to the usual MMF format.

MMF50 provided an opportunity to reminisce about the history of measuring in the marine environment, to overview the techniques and equipment used today and ponder what might be in the pipeline for the future. The twelve presentations were given from different perspectives, emphasising the diverse nature of the marine measurement community. It was fitting that Colin Waters (ex HR Wallingford) and his wife Una, were guests of honour for the event as Colin was instrumental in ensuring the continuance of the MMF series during the 80s and 90s.

The MMF opened with Roger Scrivens, RS Aqua Ltd and a member of the MMF Steering Group, reviewing the history of the MMF series which dates back, as far as can be determined, to 1983. The ‘Bob Cuffe Legacy’ was discussed. Bob, sadly no longer with us, was the founder of the MMF series and introduced the “no formalities, no high prices, no rules” creed by which the series had operated. Also much missed is Bob Barton who, as editorial contributor to the IOS journal, penned a somewhat sharp piece in the May 2002 edition arguing strongly against the ‘commercialisation’ of the MMF as attributed to MMF32. Whether Bob’s words influenced things or not is unclear but the two day format never re-appeared! A copy of the article was displayed at the meeting along with other items of memorabilia.


Roger’s MMF review was followed by Versha Carter, Intelligent Exhibitions Ltd, who used her personal knowledge and experience of the Oceanology International and Ocean Business events to present a rather fascinating look back at how the ocean/offshore/marine exhibition scene developed in the 1970s and how influential David Stott was in the process. Dr Duncan Redford from the National Museum of the Royal Navy then gave a presentation on 1900-1914 Royal Navy ship naming policy and the first session was closed by Stephen Hall, NOC Southampton who predicted the need for more autonomy and data sharing to satisfy regulatory requirements.

After a networking coffee break, Richard Johnson from ITOPF opened the second session with an informative presentation on oil spills. Key points were that the rising number of tankers plying their trade did not equate to a rise in oil spills, just the opposite in fact, and that despite technological advances, simple man power is still the most efficient mop-up tool. Richard was followed by Simon Partridge, Sonardyne International, who discussed the history of underwater acoustics. He reported that, in the early 1800s, the speed of sound underwater had already been determined and, astoundingly, was only 3m/s in error versus today’s accepted values. He also audibly demonstrated the rate at which data can now be transmitted acoustically through the water column. Prof Gwyn Griffiths, NOCS, then looked back at his personal mission in the late 1980s to open eyes to the extent of potential data available from emerging ADCP technology. He showed a 1986 data plot hand coloured to demonstrate the wealth of information hiding within the sound scattering data images. Father and son team, Charles and Matt Quartley, Valeport Ltd, wrapped up the second session with a “how it was” and “how it might be” look at the ocean equipment manufacturing industry.

A first class lunch was accompanied by much networking, visits to the museum’s wonderful galleries, sightings of various historic naval ships and viewing of the historical equipment, photos and articles brought by attendees.

Dr Ralph Rayner, BMT Group, opened the final session with a past, present and future review of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) and was followed by Dr Kevin Black, Partrac Ltd, who looked at the enormous increase in data availability being derived from acoustic Doppler technology.  Charlotte Marcinko, NOCS, demonstrated that the future of ocean research is in good hands as she brought the little researched field of bioluminescence to light. She illustrated eloquently how this  research field in one where there is plenty of scope for future growth. Her presentation attracted interest from many attendees, with lots of questions being posed regarding the nature of bioluminescence and future research possibilities. The day’s concluding presentation came from Daniel Esser, Contros (Germany) who reviewed the burgeoning dissolved gas measuring sector with examples of how the technology has advanced.

The standard format for MMF meetings will re-appear for MMF51. News regarding that will be published here on the MMF website, in International Ocean Systems journal and via OceanBuzz newsletter.