The ROV ROPOS coupled to the Science Interface Assembly as it is being lowered into the water. (photo by Allison Fundis)
After leaving the Esquimalt Graving Dock in Victoria with ROPOS aboard at midnight, we transited to an area just off of Smith Island, WA to conduct the backbone and science interface assemblies (BIA and SIA) tests. The BIA and SIA are the two components that make up each of the 7 primary nodes that will be deployed as part of the OOI-RSN primary infrastructure. These nodes will be the terminal points for the backbone cable that is currently being deployed from the cable ship Dependable.
The goal of the BIA and SIA tests was to ensure that an ROV such as ROPOS could efficiently position the SIA into the BIA. The tests involved 4 ROV ROPOS dives 1453-1456. The ROV was deployed for the first dive to scout a location for the BIA deployment. After quickly finding a suitable location, ROPOS was recovered so the BIA could be lowered off of the ship’s A-frame. Once the BIA was secure on the seafloor, it was redeployed for ~1.5 hours to recover the BIA deployment bridle. On deck, the ROV was then coupled to the SIA assembly and lowered back down. By the time ROPOS reached the seafloor, the water visibility had drastically deteriorated. However, the ROV crewmembers were still able to expertly fit the SIA into the BIA as planned. ROPOS was recovered with the SIA still coupled to it and was then redeployed with the BIA recovery bridle platform to retrieve the BIA.