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Submersible Assets Operated by HURL

Human Occupied Vehicles (HOVs) vs Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs)

The decision as to which tool to use depends upon the requirements of the project, the depth, terrain, mobility of target objects or organism, type of surveys, type of collecting, and deployment or recovery of instruments.  A widespread misconception is that ROVs are in all cases superior to HOVs and will completely displace the latter in the future. In reality, different projects require different tools. ROVs are indeed superior to HOVs at deeper depths (below 2000m) since they have a continuous power source.  ROVs are also superior for projects with very long transect requirements for the same reason.  ROVs can be safely operated at night as well as day, and are essential for conducting nocturnal surveys.  ROVs are at least equal if not better than HOVs for low relief continuous substrate surveys such as over sediment where maximizing transect width is less important than it is in mixed terrain.

However, HOVs with trained experienced observers can dramatically increase survey swath widths and detection of both different species and numbers of each species.  The human eye is by far the most efficient visual survey tool currently available.  HOVs with trained observers are significantly better at surveying mobile animals repulsed by light fields and which are often not captured on video.   HOVs are far superior in extreme relief where concerns of snagging tethers are significant.  HOVs can sample on vertical and overhanging walls where many deep water corals and sponges are found and where ROV operators are rarely willing to risk their vehicles.  HOVs are superior where maneuverability is very important to the project.

Image of Pisces V Image of Pisces IV Pisces IV and Pisces V

Pisces IV and Pisces V are three-person, battery-powered, one-atmosphere submersibles with a maximum operating depth of 2000 m (6,280 ft). They offer scientists direct observation through three view ports, video cameras, instrument placement, sample collecting, and environmental monitoring. They are launched and recovered from the stern of Ka‘imikai-o-Kanaloa. The submersible in use is serviced between dives on deck and readied to dive again the next day in most cases. On any given cruise, one of the submersibles will be used to conduct science dives while the other remains in “ready” status within the hangar onboard the support ship, though both submersible can and do dive at the same time on test dives and for special projects requiring this capability. With two submersibles aboard, there is little work area on the aft deck for other activities.

Image of ROV Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV)

SOEST has taken delivery of a new 6000 meter-capable remotely operated vehicle (ROV), designed and constructed by Deep Ocean Exploration and Research (DOER). Operations will begin in late 2013.

Image of mapping Seafloor Mapping

The multibeam bathymetric sonar mapping system aboard the R/V Ka‘imikai-o-Kanaloa was upgraded to a SeaBeam 3012 phase 1 hybrid in early 2007. It is a full ocean (trench) depth capable 12 kHz wide swath bathymetric and sidescan backscatter mapping system.

Image of ship support Ship Support

The R/V Ka‘imikai-o-Kanaloa (KoK) is the 223-ft multibeam equipped support vessel for Pisces V, Pisces IV and RCV-150, whose capabilities are described more fully on the University of Hawaii Marine Center website. KoK is capable of general oceanographic work as well.

LRT in actionLRT (Launch, Recovery, and Transport) Platform

The LRT is 49 ft long and can submerge and hover with the 13-ton submersible aboard. It is a unique vessel that was specifically designed as a submersible launch platform in the late 1980s. It has been in standby status for over a decade and is now being brought back online. Its reactivation will provide HURL with a greater range of capabilities including deployment of specialized and bulky scientific equipment, heavy lift recovery operations, and an alternate launch platform for the Pisces submersibles.

LRT in actionMakai Research Pier - Test Facility

The Makai Research Pier Facility is located on the South-East corner of Oahu, near Makapu'u Point. It provides easy access to clean, sheltered, and usually fairly calm near shore waters. The seafloor around the working area of the pier is flat and sandy, with an average depth of about 4m. Individual researchers and groups from various backgrounds have started using the Makai Pier Facility as a test location for a wide range of underwater equipment. HURL strives to accommodate these requests as much as possible, working around expedition and submersible refit schedules. The activities range in complexity from simple, long-term material exposure experiments to full scale wet testing of large multi-component arrays.

Advanced Technical ‘Wet’ Diving Equipment

Advanced Technical Diving

HURL has administered extramural research funds from the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program since 2003.  Partnership with the University of Hawai‘i Dive Safety (UHDSP) program, and similar programs at other universities on a reciprocal agreement, allowed these wet diving field programs to be carried out safely and successfully.  HURL requested that major equipment items such as rebreathers and other SCUBA gear purchased on the individual grants be returned to the program for maintenance and rental to qualified personnel by the University of Hawai‘i Dive Safety Program (UHDSP).  Thus, a well-stocked dive locker capable of supporting a significant advanced diving program has resulted.  For example, CRCP funds have contributed four Inspiration rebreathers and other technical diving equipment to the inventory.  Unfortunately, once this capacity was established and repetitively employed through three proposal calls, the CRCP notified HURL that this extramural funding program was indefinitely on hold, thus no additional funds for this program have come available.  However, existing equipment in the locker is still being maintained and is available for use on a day rate basis by qualified personnel.  In addition, training in advanced diving techniques is provided for UH researchers using funds from their awarded grants.  The UHDSP is AAUS compliant.


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