Its Wonderful to Be at Sea Again

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Today the R/V Revelle left Newport at 1000 to begin the National Science Foundations’ Ocean Observatories Initiative annual Cabled Array expedition. The UW Cabled Array Team has been working the past year in preparation for this event. We have >100 instruments to recover and return to the seafloor, several moorings and mooring platforms to turn, and several new instruments to install. Over 200,000 lbs of equipment and gear were shipped to Newport, all loaded onto the ship, stored and safely secured over this past 5 days. The 36-member science team includes 26 scientists, engineers, and students and 10 Jason crew who will all work together to complete the tasks planned for this part of the cruise.

On Leg 1 of 4 of this journey, we are especially pleased to have 10 undergraduate and graduate students from the University of Washington working in the Jason control van, helping with documentation, taking images etc, and developing outreach and science projects.

The first day at sea is always a bit hectic and this one was no exception. The ship left port under beautiful blue skies and calm seas – a whale was spouting just north of the breakwater, putting on a show for us as we transited out the channel. Transiting at 13 knots, we made very good speed to our first stop at the Slope Base site, arriving at ~1445. During the transit we had our first fire and boat drill, got all the logging systems set up to document cruise operations, worked on instrumentation to be installed on follow-on dives, and began to get used to the gentle, sleep-inducing rocking of the ship. There are hundreds of details to be worked out…and we made a very good start on working through these the past few days.

The day is going well – the remotely operated vehicle Jason is now diving on its first dive of the series at Slope Base (Dive 1043): here, the seafloor is nearly 10,000 feet beneath the vehicle. The Shallow Profiler Mooring is now in view of Jason and the vehicle is preparing to recover the static instrumented platform called the Platform Interface Assembly (PIA). The large 12 foot-across, 7,000 lb mooring platform, which hosts the PIA, was installed in 2014. It is now home to numerous animals that have colonized the mooring platform. There will be a total of three dives on the platform to complete turning of both the PIA and the winched Science Pod that conducts 9 profiles a day through the water column. In total, the three winched Science Pods installed on the Cabled Array have made >27,000 profiles since 2015.  Operations will now run 24/7 as we work towards completing all of our tasks for this Leg.