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Marine Electronics


September 2012 Issue

Falcon ROV Helps Orca Whale Swim in 'Free Willy' Film
Helping liberate the whale in the fourth remake of the movie 'Free Willy,' filmed in South Africa, is a Saab Seaeye Ltd. (Fareham, England) Falcon ROV owned and operated by Marine Solutions (Cape Town, South Africa). With Willy strapped to its back, the Falcon used its five thrusters and electronics to give Willy the wriggle motion to mimic swimming, Saab Seaeye said in July.

The moves were created by ROV pilots Nick Stroud and Josh Smit of Marine Solutions, who controlled the Falcon. The biggest challenge, according to the company, was to make the Orca whale's swimming motions look natural.

Use of the Falcon helped keep down the cost of filming by allowing the director to film the sequences in a relatively short period of time, according to Marine Solutions.

The Falcon successfully maneuvered in both swimming pool and the open ocean by balancing the buoyancy to compensate between seawater and freshwater.

'Free Willy' is not the first time the Falcon has operated in the movies. In the Bollywood film 'Luck,' also filmed in South Africa, it was strapped under a 4.2-meter-long latex and polyurethane replica of a tiger shark and used to mimic a natural swimming motion and attack moves.

NDBC Sets New Depth Record For UnderwayCTD
Technicians from NOAA's National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) working on the DART project (Deepocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis) became the first Oceanscience (Oceanside, California) UnderwayCTD users to attain a cast depth of more than 2,000 meters with a record-breaking 2,041- meter cast during a mooring service cruise on the MV Bluefin in July. The record cast took 50 minutes total, beating the same group's 1,563-meter cast a year earlier.

Hardware upgrades to the system on the Bluefin allowed the NDBC group to gather CTD profiles, even though the vessel was not equipped with a conventional deepwater CTD winch.

NDBC technicians visit the DART tsunami warning moorings in the North Pacific Ocean annually to conduct routine maintenance. DART moorings have a taut scope of 0.97 and are very sensitive to snap loading so water depth must be known to the highest degree of accuracy possible. An echosounder is used to determine the exact water depth at each mooring location, and an accurate CTD-derived sound speed profile is also required.

As the maintenance cruises are not conducted on oceanographic research vessels equipped with deepwater CTD winches, the NDBC team needed a portable system that could be easily installed to gather the CTD profiles. A key requirement was the capability to cover most of the water depth with the CTD profile; 2,000 meters was specified as the maximum required profile depth.

The NDBC's UnderwayCTD was first used in 2011. Deep profiles were achieved back then, but a requirement was specified for a faster drop speed in order to approach the target 2,000 meter mark.

Oceanscience engineers were able to implement an improved line loading regime for the UnderwayCTD's probe tail spool, leading to a sustained CTD fall rate of more than 3.5 meters per second for the first 1,100 meters of the descent.

NOAA's NDBC technicians were among the first groups to test the new system. The 2012 mooring cruise saw the UnderwayCTD depth record broken four times in a row. Then, at DART Station 52405, NDBC technicians were able to send the CTD down to 2,041 meters, with no currents to drift the probe.

It is not possible to go much deeper than the present record, Oceanscience said. Further development of the UnderwayCTD will focus on speeding up the profiling process.

Pulse 8X Detects Warwick Shipwreck Remnants
Divers have recovered a cannon, navigational tools, rudder hardware, parts of barrels and fragments of ceramic containers this summer from the English naval warship Warwick, which was wrecked during a hurricane in Bermuda in 1619.

JW Fishers Mfg Inc.'s (East Taunton, Massachusetts) Pulse 8X underwater metal detector has been successful at finding a range of targets for the wreck, including cannonballs, musket shot, bar shot and various lead artifacts at depths up to 3 feet below the seabed. A cannon has been found buried as deep as 6 feet.

The Warwick is one of the largest and most coherent pieces of early 17th century ship structures ever found. The wreckage, which has 70 feet of the hull structure preserved, lies in 15 to 30 feet of water in a protected harbor.

Studying the wreck could shed light on the early years of England's great century of overseas expansion, when the first English colonies were being planted in North America and other parts of the world.

The JW Fishers' Pulse 8X underwater metal detector is also being employed by the African Slave Wrecks Project, whose goal is to locate and document the wreck sites of ships that carried slaves.

Chinese Record-Breaking Dive Used A-Frame Lifting Technology
When the Chinese Jiaolong manned submersible successfully completed its record-breaking dive to 7,015 meters in the Mariana Trench in June, Caley Ocean Systems Ltd.'s (East Kilbride, Scotland) A-frame was used to recover it.

Mounted on the stern of the mother ship Xiangyanghong9, the Caley A-frame launched and recovered the 22-ton Jiaolong manned submersible. The hydraulically operated A-frame lifted and pivoted to position the Jiaolong above the water before lowering it; a process that was reversed during recovery. In addition to winches to lower and raise the submersible, Caley supplied two bespoke oceanographic winches for handling scientific instruments for ocean-bed research, also deployed using the Caley A-frame.

The Jiaolong successfully completed its program of deep-sea dives in the Pacific Ocean at the end of June.

Caley Ocean Systems is also upgrading the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution's RV Atlantis' A-frame for the launch and recovery of the Alvin deep submergence vehicle.


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