RRS Ernest Shackleton computing facilities

These facilities are on board and available for BAS cruises. They will not necessarily be available to external personnel when the vessel is on hire during North Sea work.

Hardware for general use

  • 3 Viglen Pentium 4 PCs in the dry lab fitted with DVD R/W drives and connected to the local area network (LAN) (removed during North Sea work)
  • 3 Viglen Pentium 4 PCs in the client office fitted with DVD R/W drives and connected to the LAN (removed during North Sea work)
  • 1 black and white laserjet printer (A4) connected to the LAN
  • 1 colour laserjet printer (A4) connected to the LAN

Local area network (LAN)

  • The LAN is CAT5e with RJ45-type connection only.
  • Cabins are fitted with LAN access ports but are not generally available for use due to limited bandwidth. Access using the ‘public machines’ is encouraged instead. Scientific areas also have spare ports available.
  • If providing your own PC/laptop (both work and personal), network cables are available on board. The Radio Officer will assist you in connecting your PC/laptop to the LAN providing you have a sufficiently secure machine with the correct hardware and software (anti-virus is required for all operating systems including MacOS). If you are unsure, it is better to contact the IT helpdesk at BAS Cambridge before departure for more information. (Contact the Helpdesk on +44 (0)1223 221447 or send an email to helpdesk@bas.ac.uk)

Wide area network (WAN)

  • The satellite link has a total bandwidth of 128Kb (i.e. probably 20 times slower than your broadband link at home). This has to cope with the traffic for everyone on board, including VoIP telephone calls, work data, remote access, web browsing and email. Many people bring web ‘toys’ onboard only to find they do not work as well as they might hope.
  • Skype and webcams are strongly discouraged. As a general rule, internet activities involving text work OK, those involving photos are very slow and ones based on video are unusable.


  • The server is fully spared, secure and backed up.
  • You will be allocated with an account and 1Gb of server disk space for your personal/work use. This space can be increased at the discretion of the Radio Officer.
  • Your account and all files will be deleted upon leaving the ship.


  • The standard operating system for workstations is Windows XP Professional.
  • Windows XP Home and Windows Vista are not supported by BAS systems. Windows 7 can be accommodated.
  • Software packages available from the server to networked PCs include:
    • Microsoft Office 2007 Professional
    • Corel Paintshop Pro Suite
    • Email via IMAP (for BAS staff only; non-BAS staff should use a web-based email service such as gmail)
    • Adobe Acrobat (reader and writer)
    • WinZip
    • Firefox
  • All BAS PCs run Sophos Anti-Virus.
  • All laptop users should bring with them all driver and recovery disks related to their equipment.


  • You must supply your own backup media. This includes portable hard drives, floppy disks, DVD or CD-R media.
  • There is a limited supply of A4 paper for printing purposes.


  • The server is backed up on a daily basis to LTO tape. All files that are stored on your N: drive (personal account space) will be backed up.
  • No backups are taken of the PCs local hard drives. You are responsible for backing up any files that you place on the PC local drives.


  • There are two options:
    • Use one of the general-use internet-connected PCs to access web-based email.
    • Use the BAS in-house system called the Antarctic Message System (AMS). The AMS gives a much better experience and can be accessed from any PC connected to the network. The AMS can be connected to any NERC Exchange account or any IMAP service such as gmail. Many research institutes and email providers do not allow IMAP access so you may wish to forward email to a gmail account that does. Please contact helpdesk@bas.ac.uk for more information and make sure this is set up before you arrive on station.
  • You should bring with you the full email addresses of all those people that you wish to contact (both personal and work). Once you are south it may be difficult to ‘look up’ email addresses.
  • The maximum size for any work-related or personal email is currently 10Mb, but please try to keep all emails/images much smaller. A standard text only-email is about 5Kb.
  • All your email will be deleted once you leave the ship. Emails can be exported to another program prior to this; the Radio Officer can explain this to you when you are on board. Note you will need at least one writable CD/USB stick or external hard drive in order to do this.

Telephones: personal use

Personal computers

You may bring your own laptop computer with you to the ship and connect it to the network, but please note:

  • Windows XP Professional is fully supported on BAS laptops, although Windows 7 can be accommodated.
  • Windows XP Home and Windows Vista are not supported by BAS systems.
  • Windows installations must have functioning anti-virus software that is capable of regularly updating over the internet as new virus threats emerge.
  • Windows must be updated with the latest security patches released by Microsoft and distributed via Microsoft Update.
  • All laptop users should bring with them all driver and recovery disks related to their equipment.
  • Mac users can expect to be able to access some shared network drives and printing, but ICT support is not available on this platform.
  • Make sure software licenses work when disconnected from the network.
  • You must make your laptop available for inspection by the Radio Officer, or a member of the ICT section, before connecting it, to verify that these pre-requisites are met.


If you are bringing your own laptop on board it must have up to date anti-virus software on it. For personal use, we recommend Microsoft Security Essentials.