About NDSF


Since 1964, WHOI has operated deep-sea exploration vehicles for the benefit of the entire U.S. oceanographic community. The National Deep Submergence Facility (NDSF), hosted at WHOI, is a federally funded center that operates, maintains, and coordinates the use of three vital deep ocean vehicles:

  • the Human Occupied Vehicle (HOV) Alvin
  • the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Jason/Medea
  • the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) ABE/Sentry
More than half of our planet is covered by water that is at least two miles deep. The unique vehicles of the NDSF carry humans and a virtual “human presence” beneath those waters and down to the largely unexplored sea floor. Whether diving 4,500 meters (14,764 feet) or remaining submerged for several days, each vehicle offers unique tools to explore the mysteries beneath the ocean’s surface.

The NDSF is sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The operation is managed by WHOI and overseen by the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS), an organization of 62 academic institutions and national laboratories involved in marine research.