Leg 1 Coming to a Close

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Somehow in the past few days, time has sped up. It seems amazing that we will be in port on Monday. Time out here is different. For those of us who have spent much of our time on the R/V Thompson, its sister ship the R/V Revelle seemed like our old home, comfortable and welcoming. However, because of this and because we immediately started to work within 4 hours of leaving the dock, the first few days felt like we had already been on the ship for a month. Then we got “into the zone” where days of the week no longer mattered; each day seems like a long work day, but at the end of the day it feels like it sped by. Most of us are delighted to be away from world news, meetings, and just focus on the tasks of the day, the weather, and watching the seas change daily.

Yesterday was a very busy day with the completion of work at the Shallow Profiler Mooring at Slope Base. The day before the seas were defined by short-period large swells that made vehicle recovery problematic. However, over the next 24 hrs they calmed and yesterday morning the instrumented winched Shallow Profiler platform was installed on the mooring, completing that job. The Applied Physics Lab engineers, in the UW Operations Center, immediately set about following the careful procedures to power up and start “talking” to the mooring platform and the winched profiler just installed. It is hard to imagine all the testing, retesting, and considerations that go into these state-of-the-art moorings. The initial power up and first few profiles went off without a hitch – All three Shallow Winched Profilers are operational and conducting their preplanned missions!

Last night and into the morning, Jason worked on righting a junction box that had been tipped over in 2015, but which has been working just fine on its side. However, a couple wet-mate connectors and cables that we needed access to where buried in the soft sediment. At the Oregon Offshore site, located ~ 600 m beneath the oceans’ surface, the sediment is clay-like and “sticky” so it was difficult to right the junction box. Jason used its “underbelly” winch, similar to what you might see on an off-road jeep to right the junction box. They pulled out a very strong AmSteel line (similar to Kevlar) with a j-hook on the end of it from beneath the vehicle and attached it into a latching ring on the central portion of the junction box. They pulled and pulled using the strength of Jasons’ fiber and eventually the junction box righted itself. Installation of the new junction box and recovery of the one installed in 2014 went well. Turning of a digital still camera followed on the next dive. During the entire dive, a large school of black cod continued to circle the site, swimming gently past the front of the ROV and around the junction boxes probably wondering what the large lit beast was that was working in their world.

Today we will try another new operation – installing and recovering an instrumented vehicle on the Deep Profiler using a recovery platform on the front of Jason. Should be an interesting dive so tune into the live feed.