2013 Annual Report

Marine Operations

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s (WHOI’s) Marine Facilities and Operations Department had a very active year in 2013 which included fascinating science cruises, the certification of upgraded HOV Alvin and the continued construction of R/V Neil Armstrong.

R/V Atlantis began its year in Woods Hole and ended the year working in the Pacific Ocean conducting several science cruises with the aid of ROV Jason and AUV Sentry. The upgraded Alvin certification cruises and sea trials were conducted successfully from Atlantis while in the Pacific Ocean. While Atlantis spent its time on the West Coast, ending the year in Costa Rica, R/V Knorr travelled the world beginning in Cape Town, South Africa and ending its year in Woods Hole. In between, Knorr assisted with many science cruises, some of which also included the use of AUV Sentry. The final cruise of the year represented the initial infrastructure deployment for the Pioneer Array of the National Science Foundation’s Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI), which was carried out successfully. 

HOV Alvin’s upgrade was completed this year; both the certification and sea trials were successfully conducted leading the way for Alvin science cruises in 2014. Upgrades included installation of a new, larger personnel sphere with an ergonomic interior; five viewports to improve visibility and provide overlapping fields of view; new lighting and high-definition imaging systems; new syntactic foam providing buoyancy; and an improved command-and-control system. For further information on Alvin, please look here.

R/V Neil Armstrong construction continued vigorously at Dakota Creek Industries in Anacortes, WA throughout 2013. In December the ship was being readied for Synchro-lift, launch and christening, all to take place early 2014. More information regarding R/V Neil Armstrong may be found here.

The goals of WHOI’s Access to the Sea endowment are to provide the resources to maintain state-of-the-art seagoing platforms, develop new technology to observe and sample the ocean, and provide the freedom and flexibility needed to utilize this technology to develop new approaches to study the oceans. The 2013 call for proposals attracted 15 submissions, with seven being funded for a total of $298,000. Studies will include climate change, coral reef health, measuring biodiversity and the monitoring of phytoplankton blooms over an annual cycle.

WHOI operates a fleet of deep sea vehicles in the National Deep Submergence Facility for the national oceanographic community. During the HOV Alvin upgrade, both ROV Jason and AUV Sentry assisted scientists with their important work.

Again in 2013, WHOI was the recipient of generous funding from The Dalio Family Foundation and Ray Dalio. Projects included sperm whale physiology off Kaikoura, New Zealand, and development and testing of a prototype ROV. The Dalio Explore Fund was established and several new projects were funded, including studies of the Hannibal Seamount off Panama, the geology of the Galápagos, the coral reefs of Cuba and Adélie penguin population studies in Antarctica. The field programs for these projects will be performed in 2015. WHOI continues to provide support to the operation of the M/V Alucia.

Robert Munier, Vice President for Marine Facilities and Operations

Last updated: October 10, 2014