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WHOI Awards Lockheed Martin $2.8 Million Contract to Design Submersible Replacement Human Occupied Vehicle

RHOV is Next Generation of Submersible that Brought Humans to the Sunken RMS Titanic

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Relations Office

media@whoi.edu

August 1, 2007

(508) 289-3340

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has awarded Lockheed Martin a $2.8 million contract for the initial design of the Replacement Human Occupied Vehicle (RHOV), a next generation three-person deep submergence vehicle (DSV) that will be used by the U.S. scientific community. The contract has an option for subsequent construction of the RHOV once the initial design is completed and the project is approved to move forward.

Funded through the National Science Foundation, the RHOV is intended to replace the DSV Alvin, the human-occupied deep submergence vehicle currently operated by WHOI.  In more than four decades of operation, Alvin has made headlines for locating a hydrogen bomb lost in the Mediterranean Sea in 1966, discovering deep-sea hydrothermal vents in the late 1970s, and exploring the sunken ocean liner Titanic in 1986.

The enhanced design of the RHOV will provide additional space in the vehicle's personnel sphere for its complement of two scientists and a pilot; the design also will accommodate greater science payload and provide improved visibility. 

RHOV will operate in depths of 6,500 meters (about 4 miles) and will be able to reach nearly 99 percent of the global ocean floor, with each dive lasting up to ten hours. By comparison, Alvin can reach 4,500 meters (almost 3 miles) giving it access to about 63 percent of the ocean floor.

The RHOV will be capable of hovering in the water column at any depth, maneuvering in rugged topography or resting on the sea floor while exploring and surveying the ocean’s geology and biology.

The RHOV will ultimately be a part of the National Deep Submergence Facility, a fleet of underwater vehicles operated by WHOI for the U.S. oceanographic community.

“For more than 75 years, WHOI has been a world leader in exploring the oceans, and the Alvin submersible has played a vital role in that effort," said Jim Luyten, WHOI President and Director. “We are very pleased to enter into this alliance with Lockheed Martin to design a more capable human occupied vehicle. It will help enable our greater understanding of ocean processes and their interaction with other parts of the global Earth system.”

“This is an exciting new program and Lockheed Martin is proud to lead the development of this new, national capability for the scientific community,” said Jim Weitzel, vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Mission and Unmanned Systems business unit in Riviera Beach.  “We look forward to delivering this system and enabling the human exploration of the ocean.”

Lockheed Martin’s Riviera Beach facility recently delivered the U.S. Navy’s first production Remote Multi-Mission Vehicle (RMMV), a semi-submersible, semi-autonomous, unmanned vehicle that tows a variable-depth sensor to detect, localize, classify, and identify undersea threats at a safe distance from friendly ships.

The RMMV is the integral mobile subsystem of the Navy’s AN/WLD-1 Remote Minehunting System (RMS), which includes the RMMV, a launch and retrieval system for the RMV, the RMV-towed sonar sensor, advanced communications equipment, and software that integrates RMS into the host ship’s combat system.  The delivery was a significant milestone in the development of the mine countermeasures capability for both Navy’s DDG 51 Arleigh Burke Class destroyers and the Littoral Combat Ship.

Lockheed Martin provides cutting-edge undersea systems for the private sector, as well as support for the nation’s defense and homeland security needs. Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin employs about 140,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration, and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products, and services.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a private, independent organization in Falmouth, Mass., dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, its primary mission is to understand the oceans and their interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the ocean's role in the changing global environment. It has operated the DSV Alvin since it was built in 1964.

Originally published: August 1, 2007