Abstract. This paper presents the development of a general-purpose parallel ocean circulation model, for use on a wide range of computer platforms, from traditional scalar machines to workstation clusters and massively parallel processors. Parallelism is provided, as a modular option, via high-level message-passing rou- tines, thus hiding the technical intricacies from the user. An initial implementation highlights that the parallel e?ciency of the model is adversely a?ected by a number of factors, for which optimisations are discussed and implemented. The resulting ocean code is portable and, in particular, allows science to be achieved on local workstations that could otherwise only be undertaken on state-of-the-art supercomputers.