For more years than I can remember every blue water vessel I have ever sailed in has been a volunteer observing ship and sent weather observations every six hours. On two vessels on transpacific voyages bathythermograph observations and atmospheric sampling were also forwarded to meteorological organisations.
Evidently not that many vessels participate.
“Right now we have about 2,500 vessels from around 25 nations taking part in the scheme,” says Henry Kleta, the global lead of the VOS scheme. “So to suddenly have one company saying, ‘Okay, here are 300 vessels, go for it!’ – it’s a big chunk added to our network.”
More details here including shipboard observations that are automated.
Changing times I suppose. The UK Met Office used to publish a journal quarterly in which interesting articles forwarded by ship’s officers were published most with photographs. Ships with immaturity logs were also noted. The New Zealand met office didn’t do anything like that but they had a very nice young lady who used to recalibrate the precision aneroid barometer when in port.
I encouraged it because I thought it encouraged junior officers to observe the weather.
When I served as Ch.Off on ships trading between East coast of Oz and PNG and other islands in the Pacific, we kept log of weather conditions on a standard form received from the Met Office in Sydney.
Crossing the Coral Sea we were also taking sea water sample and recording surface temperature ev. 4 hrs. on request of the Fisheries Dept.
For this we received a token gift of 2 cases of beer and a bottle of Scotch Whiskey when they picked up the samples and supplied empties.
When they somehow “forgot” to bring our little incentive twice in a row, I decided to give them a reminder, so on the trip from Sydney to Brisbane I recorded a position in the entertainment area of Surfers Paradise, filled the sample bottle with gin and tonic and put in the remark column; “Many driving objects”.