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After Three and One-Half-Years, R/V Atlantis and DSV Alvin Return Home December 15, 2000

December 12, 2000

Research Vessel ATLANTIS and the Deep-Diving Submersible ALVIN will return home to Woods Hole December 15 after a record three and one-half year voyage of exploration and discovery. The ship and sub left Woods Hole June 2, 1997 for an extended voyage in the Atlantic and Pacific. Since then the ship has made 60 legs or separate cruises on Voyage #3 in the North Atlantic, North Pacific, and South Pacific as far south as Easter Island. ALVIN, which carries three people nearly 15,000 feet into the ocean and is the nation’s only deep-diving human occupied submersible, made its first dive south of the Equator during the voyage. The sub will be lifted off the ATLANTIS December 19 and begin a scheduled overhaul, which happens every three years, in dock facilities. R/V ATLANTIS will depart Woods Hole December 27 for a Tampa, FL, shipyard for scheduled maintenance before returning to general oceanographic research cruises in early 2001.

During the current leg of this voyage, scientists aboard the ATLANTIS discovered a new hydrothermal vent field near the Atlantis Fracture Zone at 30°N, 45° West on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge using the Institution’s towed sensing system ARGO, . Structures more than 180 feet above the seafloor, the largest hydrothermal vent chimneys ever seen, have been found at the site, dubbed “The Lost City”. The Atlantis Fracture Zone is named for the Institution’s first research vessel, a 142-foot ketch, and namesake of the current 274-foot ship which was launched in 1996. ALVIN is scheduled to make 14 dives at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge site before returning to Woods Hole. For more information on this recent vent discovery go to:the National Science Foundation Press Release.

WHEN:   Friday, December 15, 2000 at 1:00 p.m.
(arrival time subject to change)

WHERE:   Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution dock
86 Water Street
Woods Hole, MA

CONTACT:    Media Relations Office 508-289-3340
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