Alvin Observer Information
It is conceivable that during the course of a dive the Pilot
could become incapacitated due to injury or illness to an extent
preventing operation of the submersible. In such an event, the
observers or passengers must have sufficient information to
act on their own in surfacing the vessel. The purpose of this
section is to provide step by step instructions for such a contingency.
Before the commencement of a dive, the Pilot must assure himself
that each of the observers understands these instructions and
has adequate familiarity with the submersible controls to carry
them out if necessary.
First, using the UQC, attempt to contact the surface for instructions.
Under most circumstances the submersible can be surfaced with normal
power which is already available to the service releases and main
ballast blow systems. If, however, normal power is lost, or if the
emergency jettisons are needed, special procedures are required to
provide power. Without normal power, the only interior light will be an
automatically activated battery-powered cabin light and flashlights.
If normal power is not available, locate the “GREEN Bus” power switch on the emergency battery panel (upper port side) and check that this switch is in the ON position. Locate the service bus switches (top row on port panel) and turn off the CO2 scrubber to conserve power. Locate the "service selector" switch on the power panel (forward port side upper) and place the switch to “GREEN”. Locate the "service release" breaker below the service selector and ensure that it is on. The entire service bus is now powered by the green battery and individual switches may be operated in the normal manner. This includes service releases, main ballast system blow and vent, underwater telephone (UQC), navigation system that includes a tracking pinger and the carbon dioxide scrubber. The green bus voltmeter (on the emergency battery panel) will indicate the voltage available to the bus and the service bus ammeter (above the service selector switch) will indicate the power being drawn. Each battery can supply 1 amp for 3-5 hours.
Emergency Jettison Power
The red-bordered emergency release switches on the dump panel (top center) are powered by the emergency battery red bus. These include battery tank releases and manipulator releases. The only operation necessary to release one of these items is to lift the red cover on the emergency battery panel (you must cut the safety wire with tools in drawer at bottom of science rack), place the switch to the ON position, and operate the appropriate switch on the dump panel.
The green battery and the two emergency red batteries carried in the sphere are identical and are interchangeable by physically moving the batteries from one slot to another
First, using the UQC, attempt to contact the surface for instructions.
If you do not contact the surface at the scheduled time, the Surface Controller will attempt to contact you. If an additional 30 minutes passes without successful communications, the Surface Controller will assume you have left the bottom and are on your way to the surface.
If communication with the surface is not possible, proceed as follows. Any of the following steps will surface the submersible in normal trim. Perform only the minimum number of steps in the order listed below to get the submersible moving toward the surface: 1. Be sure the SERVICE RELEASE switch on the service bus (portside) is in the up position. Operate the service release(s) (forward top center panel) by holding the ENABLE switch in the down position and pushing up on each momentary switch for a minimum of one second. This will release the remaining ascent/descent/ballast weights. These weights are normally 250 pounds each and four are carried on most dives. Two are normally dropped during descent, just before reaching the bottom.
2. Blow main ballast tanks at depths above 1000 meters ONLY. Switches are located on the forward lower part of the port distribution panel. Blow aft and forward tanks alternately for short periods of time by pushing the switches down. Make certain main ballast vents are shut (vent switches down, lights extinguished). Put no more air in the tanks than what is required to begin ascent. At deep depths, little immediate effect will be noted, but the speed of ascent will increase with decreasing depth. CAUTION: Vent forward tanks with VENT switch (vent switch up and push button) for periods of from 1 to 2 seconds at about 300 meters depth and continue periodic venting until reaching the surface. This is a precaution which will help prevent damaging the ballast tanks due to rapidly expanding air as the depth decreases.
3. Release sample basket. Weight will depend on loading and varies from dive to dive. Procedure is the same as for the service weight releases except there is a red cover on the sample basket release switch which must be raised.
If the submersible has not started toward the surface after execution of steps 1, 2 and 3, check that the red emergency bus is energized (see section on emergency jettison power, item B.2. above) and proceed with the following emergency releases. All switches are located on the upper edge of the top center panel and are bordered in red.
4. De-energize the “A” main battery (closest to Alvin’s center of gravity) by pushing down the 120 volt contactor switch located on the forward top center panel, under the emergency release switches. Locate red “Emergency Release” switches, top center panel. Operate either of the two battery “A” drop switches. This will release the battery from the submersible. If it fails to drop (no ascent) try the other “A” battery drop switch.
If positive buoyancy still has not been obtained, proceed to drop the “B” battery in the same manner. CAUTION: Drop “B” at this time only if battery “C” is installed. Remember to deenergize batteries before dropping by pushing down the appropriate 120A, 120B or 120C contactor switches.
5. If it becomes necessary, release the starboard manipulator by operating the “STBD Arm Cut” and “STBD Arm Drop” switches on the emergency dump panel in that order.
6. Release the port manipulator by operating the “Port Arm Drop” switch.
7. Drop battery “C” (or “B” if only two batteries were installed) in the same manner as above. Prior to dropping this battery, shift the “Service Selector” switch to “green”. The normal interior lights will go out.
8. As a last resort, and only if none of the above steps has succeeded in making the submersible positively buoyant, prepare to release the sphere and forebody assembly. The release mechanism is located at the bottom of the sphere under the middle plate in the deck. The required T-handled wrench is located on the port side, at the bottom of the science instrument rack. It is necessary to lift the plate and remove the pin in the top of the release shaft. Replace the plate before inserting the T-wrench in the socket, securing the plate with the screws stored in the underside of the plate screw holes. Before releasing the forebody, make certain all loose gear in the sphere is secured. The forebody is about 2750 pounds buoyant.
Normal life support should be adequate until you arrive back on the surface. The carbon dioxide scrubber is powered from the service bus and therefore can use either normal or emergency battery power. NOTE: if on emergency power, the scrubber should be turned off at frequent intervals to conserve battery power. CO2 can be detected by monitoring the installed monitoring device. Oxygen flow has been preset and should require no adjustment. Oxygen can also be constantly monitored with installed instruments.
On the Surface
After surfacing, attempt to communicate with the Surface Controller by
radio. Turn the radio switch on, select Channel 16 and identify
yourself as “Alvin”.
Check sound powered phones to see if a swimmer is aboard. Do not open the hatch until told to do so either by a swimmer on the sound powered phone, or by the Surface Controller by radio.
All observers preparing to make a dive aboard Alvin are given a briefing by the Alvin
Operations team to familiarize them with certain procedures and
information. The following topics are covered during the briefing:
Normal Dive Procedures
- Medical considerations
- Life support
- Hatch ingress
- Viewport cautions
- Tool kit
- Waste elimination bottles
- Sea sickness bags
- No flammable or toxic materials
- No makeup, lip balm, etc.
- VHF radio
- Sound-powered phone
- UQC (underwater telephone)
- External lights
- Cameras & strobes
- Cassette recorders
- Data displays
- Video system
- Data collector
- First aid kit
- Food & water
- Lithium hydroxide canisters
- Sleeping bags
- Fire extinguishers
- Dräger air sampling kit
- Hull release tools
- Life jackets
- Personal camera prep
- Blue box loading
- Pick up belongings
- Empty waste bottle
- Emergency procedures
There are no restrictions on clothing type or material. The temperature in the sphere can range from ~95°F on the surface to ~60°F on the bottom. Layered clothing is recommended to allow for these changes in temperature. Although a fire in Alvin is very unlikely, you should know that wool or cotton are preferred to most synthetics for flammability resistance and personal protection.
Last updated: February 19, 2007