2012 Annual Report

Marine Operations

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)’s Marine Facilities and Operations Department was very busy in 2012 cultivating many exciting science cruises and marine projects. Scientists used a wide array of instruments, vehicles and equipment to conduct work that will enable us to learn more about the oceans and how they impact our everyday lives.

R/V’s Knorr and Atlantis conducted joint cruises mapping strong fronts in the vicinity of the Gulf Stream. R/V Knorr deployed floats and conducted tight surveys around the floats while R/V Atlantis conducted larger scale "radiator" patterns towing a free-falling CTD package. Other science conducted aboard Knorr and Atlantis this year included hydrographic surveys (part of the U.S. CLIVAR Carbon / Repeat Hydrography program), mooring recoveries, deployment of hydrophones, bathymetry of the U.S. and Canadian side of the Hague Line, rock sampling/coring and sampling of hot vents with the assistance of ROV Jason.

The HOV Alvin project continued to move forward. The titanium sphere was successfully pressure tested, which validated the sphere design and fabrication, and the safe working depth has been upgraded to 6,500m. The sphere was delivered to WHOI at the end of June,  marking the beginning an intensive reassembly phase of Alvin. Modifications and upgrades were also made to vehicle’s titanium frame, command and control system, life support system, imaging system and a host of other systems. Another major aspect of the program was the upgrade of the launch and recovery system on the R/V Atlantis, which deploys and recovers Alvin for science missions. Alvin is expected to begin sea trials in the fall of 2013 and should be back in service late in 2013. More information can be found here: Alvin Upgrade Project

Construction continued on the newest WHOI ship, the Ocean class vessel AGOR 27 (Auxiliary General Purpose Oceanographic Research). In September the Navy announced that the vessel would be named the R/V “Neil Armstrong” and that the Ocean class of vessels would now be the Neil Armstrong class. R/V Neil Armstrong is on schedule to be delivered to WHOI in late 2014 and will be in service in 2015.

The National Deep Submergence Facility (NDSF) is operated by WHOI for the national oceanographic community and includes the HOV Alvin, ROV Jason and AUV Sentry. While Alvin has been out of service and undergoing its upgrade, both Jason and Sentry have been actively assisting scientists with their work in the world’s oceans.

The Martha's Vineyard Coastal Observatory (MVCO) has maintained a cabled underwater ocean-observing facility at the island since 2001. In August, the shore side MVCO command center moved into WHOI’s newest laboratory, called LOSOS (Laboratory for Ocean Sensors and Observing Systems). The move will allow MVCO to interact with other ocean observing groups, as well as share information and ideas.

WHOI’s Access to the Sea program provides scientists and engineers a platform to submit their ideas for projects and possibly receive funding to carry out those ideas and concepts. This year Access to the Sea funded four projects totaling just over $250,000. The funded science projects included the study of molecular metabolic fingerprinting to identify drivers of phytoplankton bloom dynamics in the Southern Ocean, glider observation of the Western Arctic Boundary Current and the measurement of three-dimensional structure of stratified turbulence.

WHOI Marine Operations has been very fortunate to receive funding from The Dalio Family Foundation and Ray Dalio, enabling creation of a Special Access to the Sea program. In addition to a financial donation for research, Ray Dalio has provided access to his research vessel, M/V Alucia, enabling scientists and engineers to take their projects to sea.

Robert Munier, Vice President for Marine Facilities and Operations

Last updated: August 29, 2013