Ground-Penetrating Radar Helps Researchers Confirm 900 Year-Old California Tsunami


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Digital elevation model and aerial photograph of the study area illustrating the location of the ground-penetrating radar profiles. (Image courtesy of UCSB)

A group of UC Santa Barbara geologists and their colleagues used ground-penetrating GPR radar to determine the breadth and depth of erosion from an ancient tsunami in Northern California. GPR allowed them to search for physical evidence of a large tsunami that hit the Northern California coast near Crescent City approximately 900 years ago.

The researchers said they found a distinct signature that indicated a tsunami and confirmed the finding with independent records, and GPR allowed them to see a the damage caused by that tsunami and measure the amount of sand removed from the beach.

They discovered that the giant wave removed three to five times more sand than any historical El Niño storm across the Pacific Coast of the United States. The researchers also estimated how far inland the coast eroded.

Their findings appear in the journal Marine Geology.

Read more at the UCSB Current.

Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Meeting Begins Today


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The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is holding its 76th annual meeting at the Waterside Marriott Hotel in Norfolk, VA Oct. 16-19, 2017, and daily proceedings are available to watch via live webcast.

Beginning today and expected to conclude by Thursday, Oct. 19 at 3:00 p.m., the webinar will allow registrants to listen to deliberations and view presentations and motions as they occur, but no comments or questions will be accepted via webinar.

Visit to register.

Meeting documents with agendas and topics covered are available at these links:

Main Meeting Materials 1 (All of meeting materials for Oct. 16-17)

Main Meeting Materials 2 (All meeting materials for Oct. 18-19)

Supplemental Materials 

Visit for more information.

Rolls-Royce To Offer Marine Engines with Electric Turbocharge by 2021


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Rolls-Royce Power Systems has acquired exclusive rights to G+L innotec’s cross-charger technology, which implements electrically-assisted charging of off-highway combustion engines above 450 kW.

Through a development collaboration between G+L innotec and Rolls Royce’s MTU Friedrichshafen, the company hopes to offer the new MTU engines by 2021. The electric drive has been installed in turbochargers and component testing was performed. Now the collaboration is preparing the new system for commercial series production.

MTU explains the operating principle of the electric drive:

To provide the turbocharger with electrical assistance, a permanent magnet is installed upstream of the compressor wheel and the electrical winding is integrated into the casing of the compressor. With this arrangement, the air drawn in by the compressor is not obstructed and at the same time the electrical components are cooled by the air. The special feature of this arrangement is the large gap between the magnet and winding. This so-called media gap motor requires specially designed power electronics. This ensures that there is no aerodynamic impact on the charger and also that existing chargers can be adapted easily to enable them to make use of this technology.

Watch an animation of the G+L innotec cross charger or read the technical article in MTZ magazine.

A presentation about the technology at the 2014 MMT Tech Days by G+L innotec CEO Holger Gödeke can be accessed here.

About MTU:

MTU Friedrichshafen is the core business of Rolls-Royce Power Systems, a division of Rolls-Royce plc. Its headquarters are in Friedrichshafen, Germany. Under the MTU brand, the company develops and produces large high-speed engines and propulsion systems for ships and heavy land, rail and defense vehicles, as well as drive systems for use in the oil and gas industry and in power generation.

Deep Dive into Engineering the World’s Most Advanced ROV System: Q&A with Carl Barrett


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Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen.

In August 2017 a research group led by explorer and philanthropist Paul G. Allen used ultra-high-tech underwater equipment to locate the wreckage of the USS Indianapolis, a ship that sunk in the final days of WWII after it was struck by Japanese torpedoes. The discovery was made by Mr. Allen’s company, Vulcan Inc., using a new expedition ship it acquired for the purpose of seabed discovery—the RV Petrel.

Petrel was outfitted with cutting-edge technologies, including an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), which uses side-scan sonar to locate objects on the seabed, and a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) for further investigation and video documentation.

While AUVs and ROVs are becoming more common, the USS Indianapolis was discovered at a depth of nearly 6,000 m, and technologies suitable for robust research at great depth can be hard to find.

Carl Barrett is a project manager at the underwater engineering firm 3U Technologies LLC (Underground, Underwater and Under Ice) who worked with Vulcan to outfit an ROV that could handle extremely deep depths. Sea Technology sat down with Barrett to talk about engineering an ROV system that helped make RV Petrel one of the most advanced deep-sea expedition vessels on the planet.

Barrett told us about the process of specifying and sourcing equipment for the ROV that recorded the broadcast-quality video we saw on the PBS live-streamed tour of the USS Indianapolis ruins. He provided plenty of insight into the complexities of deep-sea expedition, and some neat ROV graphics as well.

Tour the RV Petrel ROV in HD! (See the video after interview.)

The control room inside RV Petrel where pilots steer the ROV operating 6,000 meters below the ship. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen.

ST: So Carl, tell me how you first got involved with the RV Petrel and Mr. Allen’s team?

CB: 3U Technologies started working for Vulcan in 2013. We assisted with developing upgrades for their existing ROV, the Octo ROV on Mr. Allen’s yacht Octopus. The system was outfitted with a larger umbilical for higher power capacity. It’s a hydroelectric machine, so upgrades included a larger HPU and larger thrusters. We did pretty much a full rebuild of the power system.  Due to the success of this and other projects, Vulcan tasked 3U with performing a study to develop options for design and build of a 6,000-meter ROV system.

ST: So Vulcan was originally looking at putting this new ROV on Mr. Allen’s yacht, the Octopus?

CB: Yes, the initial thinking was to perform exploration from the Octopus, the vehicle system was built for that purpose. However, a decision was made to buy the Petrel when it became available, and plans shifted over to installing the vehicle on the Petrel, which was a very good move. The Petrel was an ROV support vessel purchased from Subsea 7.

CB: The installation consisted of taking the [existing] vehicle system off [Petrel], which was a much bigger vehicle, although it was only a 3,000-meter system. We repurposed the winch and handling system and made a few modifications, specifically a different spooling shell and some inserts for the over-boarding sheave to fit the smaller umbilical. Otherwise, it was a really good fit, and there was certainly a lot of room on the Petrel. There’s a nice control room on the Petrel, [the team is] able to spread out with a lot of consoles and a lot of operating space.

ST: Did the Petrel and its ROV undergo field trials before it was put to the task of deep-sea discoveries?

CB: Absolutely. The Petrel and diving systems completed final outfitting in February of this year. We ran sea trial operations, called shallow-water trials, in the fjords of Norway in February and March. In the fjords, we dove to perhaps 700 meters, just testing all the systems on board, diving the AUV, finding targets. As you can imagine, the fjords of Norway are littered with a lot of boats on the bottom, so there were a lot of targets to test the system on. Once everything was operational the team went to the Mediterranean for their first set of deep-diving trials.

ST: What kind of testing is required for a new umbilical, the cable that connects the ROV to the ship?

CB: The thing to do there is to dive just the umbilical, without the vehicle. You blank-off the end of the cable with just an oil-filled junction box, a container, and find a place in the ocean deep enough to spool all the cable off the winch, let it spin out and find its happy home, and then spool it back onto the winch. You do that several times to season the cable and get the cable rotationally neutral. As you can imagine, you want to try for balanced torque on the cable so that as you tension it up it won’t want to twist. You want to get all that worked out so that it’s a rigid armored umbilical, stored on the winch under tension and without twists built in. Without that it would tend to hockle, or generate loops in the cable.

After cable seasoning was complete, the ROV was connected, and they did a series of deep diving trials which effectively resulted in finding a WWII Italian vessel, Artigliere. Then, in April the Petrel started steaming to the Pacific, going through the Suez Canal and out to the Philippine sea, with operations commencing around May. The months of May, June, July and August were spent running AUV operations, checking targets with the ROV, and searching for the USS Indianapolis. And then of course the Vulcan team found it in late August.

ST: In the beginning, what was Vulcan’s main request to you? I assume they said: “We need the ROV to do____.”

CB: Everything! Their biggest need is a good camera and video platform. They plan to use the system primarily for investigating wreck sites. It needed a lot of lighting, it needed a lot of data bandwidth and data communications capabilities to run multiple sensors, multibeam sonar systems, 4K HDTV video cameras, high megapixel stills, and to do all of this at once.

Six-thousand meters is a pretty unique depth. There are a whole range of sonar and camera systems for 3,000 meters. We had to find products that were packaged for 6,000 meters.  If anything, the depth drove a lot of the decisions. Once we had the basics there, we had a whole stack of equipment that needed to transmit data to the surface, so the next step was coming up with a MUX [multiplexer] solution to transmit all of it.

Diagram courtesy of 3U Technologies LLC and Paul G. Allen.

ST: I keep reading this is the most advanced ROV system in the world. Is the 6,000 meter depth the reason for that?

CB: Right. This would be the most powerful and advanced 6,000 meter system. There are certainly plenty of systems in the world with this level of capability at 3-4,000 meters, but there are very few systems rated for 6,000 meter operations, most of which are older designs with more limited capabilities. We investigated all the major ROV manufacturers initially, but found that most were limited by the operating voltage of their existing designs, so the power level at the ROV would be limited. Jumping from 3,000 to 4,500 volts would be a custom change for a lot of these manufacturers.

The requirements for the vehicle and power system itself were number one on the priority list: we wanted to push as much power down to the machine as we could to maximize propulsion on the vehicle. Vulcan wanted a responsive system. It needed to be able to drag around 6,000 meters of cable (the system does not use a TMS) so the umbilical needed to be small to minimize drag and support its own weight.

ST: And you said the umbilical for this project was highly specific?

CB: That was certainly a big portion of the project, sourcing the umbilical and testing it. It’s a new 17mm design. I won’t say it’s never been done before, but the combination of everything in the umbilical [was unique] because we were looking for a 4,500 volt capability in order to get power down to the [6,000 m] depth. A lot of systems still in-use operate at 3,000 volts, and there are 3,000-volt cables, but that was a significant limitation on how much power we could transmit. Cortland cable offered a solution designed for our planned 4,500-volt system and was able to offer the largest conductor size for maximum power transmission.

Another key was the ROV manufacturer, Argus Remote Systems, one of their big advantages is that they were offering an electric vehicle system, as opposed to an electro-hydraulic machine. The big advantage there is that we only need three power conductors in the umbilical to feed power distribution on the ROV as opposed to a typical electrohydraulic machine which requires five conductors: three to run the HPU and then two to run instrumentation separately. By simplifying the cable, we could maximize the size of the conductors powering everything. Additionally, details of the Argus power system allowed for a larger voltage drop (voltage regulation) range in the system, which further increased the power throughput capability.  As a result, we are able to supply up to 90 kW of electric power to the ROV, 6,000 m below Petrel.

All that power can be distributed as needed on the vehicle, and it gave us the ability to run a lot of lighting while maximizing propulsion capability. There are five kilowatts of lighting capacity on the vehicle distributed through eight switchable and dimmable lighting circuits, which typically run one or two lights, so it can be outfitted with up to 16 different LED lights, that makes for a lot of lighting down there on the machine, resulting in spectacular video.

I don’t think you’ve heard the last of Vulcan and new discoveries from them. This whole system was built for exploration, and this was just the first set of operations…

ST: How does data move from the ROV 6,000 m underwater up to the ship?

CB: As we started into design of the system, we settled on a Focal MUX [multiplexer] for all the data transmission via fiber optic elements in the umbilical. It is a rather extensive MUX with a lot of high-speed serial data ports, 4x gigabit Ethernet channels and multiple SD and HD video transmission channels. All of the various sensors were integrated directly into the MUX as opposed to, say, a control system subsea on the vehicle.

ST: How does all this equipment work together in one vehicle?

CB: One of the key features on the system is the Greensea software and hardware. The ROV is outfitted with a full inertial navigation system (INS) including DVL (doppler velocity log) and USBL, which is an ultra-short baseline tracking system from Kongsberg. There is also a heading reference system included, a ring laser gyro with accelerometers. All these sensor systems feed into an INS processor supplied by Greensea, which provides all the system automation.

Greensea also provided what we call sensor fusion. Initially when we started looking at integrating all of this into a system we realized we had an issue.  Every sensor—whether a sonar, a pan-and-tilt connected through serial interfaces, DVL—all these pieces of equipment, each one of them has its own vendor-supplied software package to operate it. That means we would have needed something like 20 different computers operating top-side to gather up all this data and present it. It was looking unwieldy initially, until we started talking with Greensea. What they provided was a centralized, network-based solution, where they effectively emulated the vendor-supplied software on a common platform. Greensea supplied drivers for each of these pieces of hardware, although they already had a lot of these drivers in their existing Opensea inventory. That way, all of this could run on one processing system and be integrated through a surface network, combining all of this data into one platform.

As I described it to them: it’s a system for our system! What that allowed is that now we’ve got all of this information feeding into Greensea’s package, where all the data, including SD Video, is stored on a running black box hard drive.

ST: How many cameras are on the ROV and how do they work?

CB: There are a total of up to nine video cameras and capability for multiple stills on this system. Six of the cameras are just standard definition cameras used for maneuvering—a camera looking out back, one looking up at the umbilical, various other views so the pilots can look all around the ROV for maneuvering, but the SD video isn’t necessarily presented in the [PBS] show or other presentations. All of the SD video, as well as the HDTV converted to SD, is saved on a black box. The ROV features three HDTV cameras (both SDI and 3G) for presentation and broadcast purposes.  The broadcast-quality video flows to other Vulcan server systems on Petrel which are designed to handle and store high-bandwidth HDTV.  Beyond 3G capability, the ROV data circuits can support 4K video in the future, but Vulcan has yet to find a camera system that meets their needs on this system.

All the video and data information can be displayed where needed. Inside the control room, we’ve got a multitude of HD displays, and the pilots have the ability of switching any of the sensor outputs to any of the displays. They can route scanning sonar, multibeam sonar, SD cameras, or HD video, etc. to any of those various screens. And they have a lot of video feeds coming in beyond just the vehicle. There are multiple views of the winch and handling system topside, all of which the pilots can monitor.  During diving operations, the pilots can monitor the angle of the umbilical hanging from the handling system, and they can drive the winch from the pilot’s chair directly.  In fact we even tied in an automated winch control such that the winch will pay in/out automatically as the ROV depth changes, which helps to maintain a consistent level of slack at the ROV to prevent entanglement and maximize operational efficiency.

Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen.

ST: How do the pilots on-board RV Petrel drive the vehicle at the end of a 6,000 meter cable below?

CB: The ROV can be flown in a sort of standard (old school) operation mode using a joystick with the pilots directly controlling propulsion on the machine.  But it can also operate in a semi-autonomous mode, where the ROV will hold station, and the pilots operate it by movement of the joystick to move the vehicle relative to an existing position. For instance, they can command the ROV to move five meters one way or another, or move to various waypoints.  The beauty of running in this automated mode is that the computer uses the INS system for positioning reference, which operates on a very fast update rate, so ROV propulsion and positioning control is much more stable than any pilot could ever achieve.

One big feature that Greensea offers is sonar target-based tracking. Using the multibeam sonar, you can select a sonar target of interest, and the ROV will hold station and navigate relative to that target. This is a big advantage for what Vulcan does: a lot of their operations are in the vicinity of large sonar targets, large steel wreck sites, so as they mapped out the wreck site, they would have selected a large series of sonar waypoints, and they could navigate the vehicle around the site in that manner. All this automation makes the vehicle very stable as a camera platform and it helps decrease a lot of the task loading on the pilots. So rather than having to manually hold station, they can focus more on the overall mission, improving operational efficiency.

We also customized the cyber chairs [in the console] with our controls, there’s a joystick on the right-hand side and then there’s a paddle on the left hand side, which is used for vertical control.  The chairs also feature all of the required switches and dimming controls for lights, camera controls, pan-and-tilt control etc., all from the comfort of the chair itself. Each pilot then has their own small touch screen which allows them to directly access all aspects of the ROV control system and data that is coming up from the vehicle.

ST: Do you think this particular system will be involved in more deep finds like the Indianapolis?

CB: Absolutely. I don’t think you’ve heard the last of Vulcan and new discoveries from them. This whole system was built for exploration, and this was just the first set of operations, this is the first year they’ve had this capability in operation.  I can’t predict what else they have planned, but I expect more exciting news in the future!  

Interview by Amelia Jaycen


Carl Barrett has worked in the ROV and deep-diving industry since 1986. He started with Oceaneering as a divers’ tender and then worked his way up through ROV operations, ultimately joining the engineering group, Ocean Systems Engineering (OSE), in Houston, Texas. At OSE he developed tooling such as torque tools, docking buckets, tooling skids and other ROV equipment, as well as supporting new and unique offshore projects. He is an author on the first version of the API 17D standards for ROV tooling, the basis for the current ISO 13628 ROV tooling standards. He has worked at Perry Tritech, where he led multiple cable burial and oil field ROV system developments and builds. He has been a project manager at 3U since 2003. 

Interview has been edited for style and clarity.

Diagram courtesy of 3U Technologies LLC and Paul G. Allen.

Offshore Energy Conference Highlights Marine Energy


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The Dutch Energy from Water Association (EWA) and Dutch Marine Energy Centre (DMEC) are leading a five-hour event in Amsterdam today to discuss the marine industry’s role in providing EU electricity and to highlight advances in international marine energy projects, infrastructure, offshore safety, construction, environmental monitoring and recent research and development.

The marine energy event is part of the 2017 Offshore Energy Exhibition and Conference held in Amsterdam Oct. 9-11, the tenth annual OEEC event.

Learn more:



Australian “Ring of Steel” Seeks to Repel Seafaring Refugees


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CC Image courtesy of Shane on Flickr

Australia is carrying out an initiative to repel refugees traveling by boat and seeking asylum there. Called the “ring of steel”, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called it “the biggest ever peacetime maritime operation in Australia’s northern waters”.

Turnbull says the initiative is part of an effort to prevent any increase in human trafficking of refugees in the wake of the Australian refugee trade agreement with the U.S., which was signed by Obama and will be honored by President Trump. (Read more details in the Business Insider story.)

You can listen to Turnbull’s remarks on the “ring of steel” in a podcast on Australia’s ABC news network and view pictures of Australian war ships and surveillance planes in action in The Daily Telegraph’s image gallery.

U.S. Navy Testing a Variety of Unmanned Vehicles


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160606-N-PF515-001 BALTIC SEA (June 6, 2016) Sailors attached to Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit Two in Little Creek, Va., prepare to insert an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) into the Baltic Sea to search for underwater mines during BALTOPS 2016. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class America A. Henry/ Released)

The Unmanned Maritime Systems Program Office is testing as many unmanned vehicles as possible to gain insight into future uses of advanced marine vehicles for operations such as ship-to-shore maneuver, amphibious command and control, communications, amphibious information warfare and more.

For example, the Ship-to-Shore Maneuver Exploration and Experimentation Advanced Naval Technology Exercise held in April 2017 showcased Navy and Marine Corps advances in unmanned technology.

Some of the technologies being tested by the Navy include: the Knifefish unmanned underwater vehicle, which will detect and classify buried mines and mine in high-clutter environments; the Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle (CUSV), which will pull a minesweeper in its role as the Unmanned Influence Sweep System (UISS); the Navy’s Large Displacement UUV (LDUUV) and Extra Large UUV (XLUUV); The Snakehead LDUUV; Orca XLUUV; and the ADARO small unmanned surface vehicle being tested by Naval Surface Warfare Center Combatant Craft, which is about three feet long.

Read more at USNI.

Wind and Solar System Offers Promise for Sustainable Eco Ships


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The Aquarius Eco Ship uses the Aquarius MRE integrated wind and solar power system developed by Eco Marine Power to create a more sustainable shipping vessel with reduced fuel consumption and lower emissions. The Eco Ship concept includes an advanced integrated system of rigid sails, marine-grade solar panels, energy storage modules and marine computers that automatically position the rigid sails to make use of current weather conditions.

The concept can be applied to most ship sizes and types including bulkers, oil tankers, survey ships, passenger ferries, cruise ships, Ro-Ro ships, car carriers and unmanned surface vessels. Aquarius Eco Ship can also be fitted with other fuel saving measures such as an advanced electrical propulsion system, air lubrication, an optimized hull design and waste heat recovery technologies. Fuel cell technology could also be incorporated into the design.

Read more in the BBC feature story:
The Ships That Could Change the Seas Forever



Interdisciplinary Maritime Robotics Workshop Continues in Croatia


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Breaking the Surface (BTS) is an international interdisciplinary field workshop of maritime robotics and applications held in Biograd na moru, Croatia Oct. 1-8 and supported by the Embassy of the United States Zagreb–Croatia and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Zagreb.

The annual BtS summer workshop encourages interaction and the exchange of knowledge and experience about the maritime robotics field and its applications. The seven-day event provides first-hand knowledge about the latest in scientific research and technological achievements as well as hands-on experience in working with complex modern underwater systems.

Held each year since 2009, BTS brings together international experts, university professors, scientists, industry representatives and students from maritime robotics, marine biology, marine archaeology and maritime security. There is also a special track for marine innovation with a day-long workshop that will teach attendees how to commercialize robotics-related technologies.

The event also offers hands-on tutorial sessions concentrating on the use of tools and applications for robotic ocean science mission preparation, post-processing and statistical analysis.

For more information, view the BtS 2017 schedule, learn more on the BTS website or view the 2016 photo gallery.


First Non-Pemex Rig is Moored Off Mexico’s Coast


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InterMoor, a provider of mooring services, foundation solutions and offshore installations, has moored the first privately-operated rig in Mexico’s offshore waters since 1938.

InterMoor was contracted by Talos Energy to moor the semisubmersible ENSCO 8503 in the Bay of Campeche, offshore Mexico.  The asset is the first privately-operated (non-Pemex) rig to be moored in the area since the energy reform of 2013 opened the Mexican waters to the private sector. 

InterMoor’s involvement included providing Talos Energy with engineering services, mooring equipment, shorebase loadout services and experienced personnel to deliver the project.


Details Released on Cargo Ship That was Sunk in Hurricane Jaoquin


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Throughout the investigation, MBI relied heavily on tours and photographs of El Faro’s sister ship, El Yunque, in order to understand the internal configuration of the Ponce class vessels and operational and maintenance issues that could have had an impact. (Image from the El Faro Marine Board of Investigation Document Library)

On Sunday Oct. 1, The U.S. Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation released the details of the sinking of cargo ship El Faro, which encountered Hurricane Jaoquin while carrying cargo from Jacksonville, FL to San Juan, Puerto Rico in 2015. At that time considered the worst maritime disaster in 40 years, the sinking ship resulted in the loss of 33 lives.

When El Faro departed port on Sept. 29, 2015, the ship was carrying a full load of cargo containers and the storm was a tropical weather system east of the Bahamas. Once developed into Hurricane Jaoquin, the storm was difficult to track and the ship steered directly into the Hurricane. At 5:30 a.m. on the morning of Oct. 1, 2015, El Faro started taking on water and eventually lost propulsion.

Read more details on the investigation including transcripts, biographies and ship stability and structures reports at the U.S. Coast Guard’s El Faro Marine Board of Investigation.

Or read the full PDF report of the investigation with executive summary and findings.

A diagram of a flooding free surface effect, from the ship stability and structures reports of the El Faro Marine Board of Investigation Document Library.




Naval Undersea Warfare Center Offers Use of Its Virtual Submarine


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The Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Newport Division has invited industry and academic institutions to use its virtual submarine (VSUB) to advance submarine technologies in partnership with the U.S. Navy.

VSUB is described as “a set of submarine non-propulsion electronic systems including combat control, radio room, periscopes,  antennas, sonar, and other systems as well as launchers, weapons, and unmanned vehicles that are connected via a secure campus network” that facilitates emulation of any submarine platform in the U.S fleet.

VSUB supports testing, evaluation, experimentation, integration, lifecycle support and rapid prototyping of undersea warfare capabilities. NUWC’s objective is to optimize its systems and any which it supports, and it says collaboration with industry and academia on technology development is the next step toward enhancing naval fleet mission-execution capabilities.

To provide an up-close-and-personal experience with the technology, attendees at the September 19-20, 2017 National Defense Industry Association conference in Groton, Connecticut were invited to tour the VSUB laboratory at Newport and see its new addition: the Virginia Payload Tube Facility (VPTF).

There, attendees saw a Virginia-configured Block III salvo of simulated Tomahawk cruise missiles where the VSUB received mission data and tasking via tactical communications networks from a fleet node in Norfolk, Virginia into the VSUB’s radio room and combat system, where operators planned and executed an end-to-end strike of simulated missiles hosted in the VPTF.

For more information on the NUWC’s virtual submarine, interested parties may contact the U.S. Navy’s John Bowdren or James Broadmeadow or NUWC.

A Review of UK Marine Science & Technology Sectors


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The Society of Maritime Industries (SMI) published its Ninth Annual Review of the Marine Science and Technology Sector. The ninth survey, focused on UK companies operating primarily in marine science and technology activities, aims to provide an insight into current business activity in terms of market sectors, market size and business confidence both current and forecast.

Learn more and read the report at the Society of Maritime Industries webpage.

Hurricane Monitoring with Buoys as Biogeochemical Observatories


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Salinity (top) and turbidity (bottom) data captured leading up to, and during Hurricane Irma.

Sea-Bird Scientific, September 2017–The center of Hurricane Irma may have missed Florida’s eastern shore, but its effects did not. Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch operates a network of Sea-Bird Scientific Land/Ocean Biogeochemical Observatories (LOBOs) in the Indian River Lagoon that captured the edge of Irma’s wrath in real time. The peak of the storm occurred just before midnight on September 10th as the air pressure dropped to 990 mbar and wind speeds topped out over 45 mph.

In the Indian River Lagoon, Sea-Bird Water Quality Monitors (WQM) measured the increase in water level due to storm surge and increased turbidity due to winds stirring sand and sediment up from the lagoon bed. Further inland in the estuary, salinity values dropped as fresh rainwater gushed from the St. Lucie River. Interact with this data and view more of the effects of Hurricane on eastern Florida at the LOBOviz website.

Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation’s custom data chart can sort and display LOBO data on the southwest coast. Plotting yearly rain (cumulative) with turbidity and salinity for the Fort Myers location in September reflects the large rain event, resulting in high turbidity and a subsequent drop in salinity due to Irma passing through.

Maritime Boundary Between Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire Settled


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The dispute over the maritime boundary between Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire was settled on Saturday, September 23, 2017 with a decision by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

Read more about the decision on the case page.

See more images in the case photo gallery.

Image caption: The Special Chamber of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea formed to deal with the dispute concerning delimitation of the maritime boundary between Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire in the Atlantic Ocean and delivered its Order on a Request for provisional measures filed by Côte d’Ivoire. Judge Boualem Bouguetaia, President of the Special Chamber, reads the Order at a public sitting of the Chamber. The dispute was submitted, by way of special agreement concluded between the two States concerned on 3 December 2014, to a special chamber formed in application of article 15, paragraph 2, of the Statute of the Tribunal. The case was entered as No. 23 in the List of cases.

Webinar Today on DoD Funding Opportunity for Environmental Science, Technology R&D


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The Department of Defense’s (DoD) Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) is seeking to fund environmental research and development proposals.

SERDP Acting Executive Director Dr. Herb Nelson and Deputy Director Dr. Andrea Leeson will host an informational webinar about the funding opportunity today, September 25, 2017, from 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. ET. 

SERDP is DoD’s environmental science and technology program, planned and executed in partnership with DOE and EPA with participation by numerous other organizations.  The program invests across the broad spectrum of basic and applied research, as well as advanced development.

The SERDP program requests proposals is in the following areas:

Environmental Restoration — Research and technologies for the
characterization, risk assessment, remediation, and management of
contaminants in soil, sediments and water.

Resource Conservation and Resiliency — Research that advances DoD’s
management of its installation infrastructure in a sustainable way.

Weapons Systems and Platforms — Research and technologies to reduce,
control and understand the sources of waste and emissions in the
manufacturing, maintenance and use of weapons systems and platforms.

Proposals are due October 19, 2017 by 2:00 p.m. ET. 

Learn more at the SERDP website:

World ECDIS Day Celebrates Advances in Digital Navigation


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World ECDIS Day will be held September 20, 2017 in Hamburg, Germany to bring together experts and maritime industries to celebrate and discuss issues and advances related to the Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS).

In 2009, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted a regulation under SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) chapter V that mandates new ships to carry ECDIS and existing ships to be fitted to include the system by 2018, citing the increased safety associated with real-time electronic charts.

The 2017 World ECDIS Day is focused on the World Wide Electronic Navigational Chart Data Base (WEND), a common worldwide network of ENC datasets established in 1992, based on International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) standards and designed specifically to meet the needs of international maritime traffic using ECDIS.

World ECDIS Day events include: cruise ship tours demonstrating live maneuvering on electronic charts; training workshops in auditing ECDIS skills; presentations on implementation and chart maintenance, cyber risk management and PSC and vetting issues; panels of speakers including regulators and industry representatives; awards for data-implementation, e-navigation influence and lifetime achievement; and an address from IHO Secretary General Dr. Mathias Jonas.

Learn more:

Aquabotix Wants to Deploy Technology to Assist with Surveying Hurricane Damage


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Aquabotix is an underwater robotics company that makes underwater drones called autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and remotely-operated vehicles (ROVs), as well as networked underwater cameras. The company has issued a statement that this kind of equipment could be useful for surveying underwater damage to infrastructure at ports, offshore drilling rigs and various submerged coastal structures.

They are launching a new initiative to form relationships with specialist distributors in Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, local and state governments, the U.S. Coast Guard and oil and gas industries to see if their tools can be helpful in recovery.

Underwater cameras and drones can be remotely operated or sent with pre-programmed instructions to follow autonomously, without humans driving. They could be useful for examining damaged infrastructure. NOAA has used ROVs to survey fisheries and, with the U.S. Coast Guard to survey the wreckage of USCG Cutter McCulloch. ROVs can be useful for inspecting not only ships sitting on the seabed but submerged bridge footings, damaged dams and more informed planning of new construction in changed coastal environments.

It will be interesting to see what other uses are found for high-tech underwater surveying equipment in the face of a long road to recovery for the Gulf Coast as cities and companies seek to rebuild infrastructure.

As Aquabotix points out, reconstruction will “involve substantial underwater work,” bringing companies like theirs, that specialize in subsea technologies, into the limelight in the aftermath of destructive storms along the coasts.



Tour USS Indianapolis: Live-Streaming from 18,000 Feet Under the Sea


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A research team led by Paul Allen used remotely operated equipment to survey the ruins of USS Indianapolis and record HD video on the floor of the North Pacific Ocean. Image:

Tonight, a remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) will shoot video 18,000 feet under the sea to take viewers on a live-streaming tour of the recently discovered USS Indianapolis.

Indianapolis sunk in the final days of World War II when it was hit by two Japanese torpedoes after delivering components of the “Little Boy” bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

The sunken battleship was discovered Aug. 18, 2017 by an expedition team led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, using a research ship equipped with state-of-the-art subsea technology.

The research vessel RV Petrel is equipped with two subsea vehicles (an AUV and ROV), side scan sonar, interferometric bathymetry, HD cameras, LED lights and underwater positioning and navigation systems.

RV Petrel crews will take viewers on a live tour of the ruins which have been resting at the bottom of the North Pacific Ocean for 72 years.

Watch the live-stream on, the PBS Facebook page, or at 10 p.m. EST or 7 p.m. PT.


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The EXPORTS conceptual diagram illustrates the links among the ocean’s biological pump and pelagic food web and our ability to sample these components from ships, satellites, and autonomous vehicles. Light blue waters are the euphotic zone (EZ), while the darker blue waters represent the twilight zone (TZ). Figure is adapted from Steinberg (in prep.) and the U.S. Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS) (

Beginning in summer 2018, twelve groups of scientists will undertake field expeditions to perform robotic sampling, optical instrumentation deployments, light scattering and more as part of a NASA project to more thoroughly understand ocean carbon flux.

The project is called EXPORTS (Export Processes in the Ocean from RemoTe Sensing). Two expeditions with investigators from a wide variety of sciences will encompass science that ranges from sinking particle chemistry to the role of phytoplankton in the carbon cycle, and from dissolved-particulate carbon flux to modeling microscale dynamics of sinking material.

They will combine technologies like satellite imagery, underwater vision profiling (UVP) and laser diffraction (LISST), along with other remote sensing techniques. Their goal: to create a complete picture of the ocean carbon cycle.

Ocean carbon flux is the interconnected cycle of movement of carbon from the air to the sea through a variety of physical and biological processes: surface mixing, wind speed, temperature, alkalinity, salinity, plant photosynthesis and animal respiration.

Project leader Dave Siegel says the project will study in-detail every single component of “the biological pump” — the name for the handy service oceans provide of sinking carbon to be stored on the ocean bed, removing it from the air via biomass.

Studying how carbon moves through the ocean food chain, in particles, processes and different kinds of dissolved organic matter will allow scientists to more accurately model the big picture of carbon and gauge the needed solutions for a return to balance between carbon sinks and sources.

Read more about the EXPORTS project:

Diagram from The EXPORTS Science Plan

Norm Nelson, Uta Passow and Dave Siegel
Photo Credit: Sonia Fernandez

Registration is Open for the Teledyne Marine Technology Workshop


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This three-day workshop held October 15-18, 2017 at Catamaran Resort in San Diego, California is preceded by a full day of networking opportunities and includes customer presentations, product and software training, field service meetings, networking opportunities and on-water demonstrations provided by Teledyne Marine’s top-tier oceanographic manufacturers.

Products include ADCPs, CTDs, DVLs, imaging and mapping sonar and software, motion sensors, navigation systems, AUVs, ROVs, lights, cameras, modems, gliders, surface vehicles, interconnect solutions and other marine technologies.

Morning sessions are comprised of four concurrent tracks dedicated to presentations given by Teledyne users from around the globe sharing their experiences, challenges and solutions using Teledyne products in a wide array of application areas including offshore energy, oceanographic research, hydrography, security and defense, civil engineering, river and stream monitoring and aquaculture and fisheries.

Learn more and register for the event online:

Read Teledyne’s “13 Reasons Why You Should Attend the Teledyne Marine Technology Workshop.”



New Ocean Technology Group Promises a Fresh Voice on Capitol Hill


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The International Ocean Science and Technology Industry Association (IOSTIA) officially launched Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. Located in Washington, D.C., IOSTIA is geared toward providing a trade organization for marine companies who don’t fit into existing associations, which are often geared toward offshore oil and gas industries.

A 501(c)(6) organization, IOSTIA has the ability to lobby on Capitol Hill, and its leaders hope to provide members a unified voice on issues and broaden the conversation on marine science and technology.

IOSTIA is geared toward the following technology service sectors: renewable ocean energy; environmental monitoring protection; fisheries and aquaculture; marine science; maritime security; ocean mining; marine telecommunications; autonomous vehicles; offshore wind energy; oceanography; subsea mining; sensors; arctic change; marine archaeology; ocean observations; hydrography; ports and infrastructure; diving and manned exploration.

An ocean technology company, with no serious connection with oil and gas, may find itself uncomfortably jammed into a petroleum-related association because it is the closest option. Companies like this shouldn’t have to settle… IOSTIA fits that need.

—CEO Rich Lawson

As an international organization, IOSTIA appeals to global “blue-tech” companies and plans to engage with foreign embassies in Washington D.C. and assist international companies who are entering the U.S. market. IOSTIA CEO Richard Lawson says the organization is open to companies of all sizes, from one-man consultancies to multi-national corporations.

The organization also offers forums where members can engage with topics such as emerging technologies, grants and contracting, international business and development for young professionals. There is also a commercial service program and business savings program.

IOSTIA plans to put marine technologies in front of members of congress through fairs on capitol hill (the first to be held June 4, 2018) as well as bringing companies into contact with agencies like DOE, NOAA and NASA, says IOSTIA Public Policy VP Jeffrey Taylor, “so that they are always up-to-speed on the cutting edge in the areas of ocean science, technology and energy.”

Watch a Maritime TV interview with Taylor and IOSTIA CEO Rich Lawson about the launch or learn more about the organization at

USGS Installs Sensors to Gain Data from Irma


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Along the northeast coast of Puerto Rico, USGS hydrologic technician Francisco Almanzar surveys reference elevation points to ensure the accuracy of water level data. (USGS)

The U.S. Geological Survey is installing storm-tide sensors today in the Florida Keys to assist with data collection as Hurricane Irma approaches. Nine other sensors were installed in Puerto Rico on Labor Day, Sept. 4, and USGS plans to make further installations on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of Florida Thursday and Friday.

Crews stand ready to install as many as 100 additional sensors in Florida. The sensors can collect data on the height and intensity of the storm surge before high winds and water arrive.

USGS says the new measurements of storm surge will help with forecasting surge-related flooding, help engineers design better storm-resistant structures and increase the efficacy and safety of emergency responders. To monitor water levels of inland rivers and streams, USGS will use instruments called streamgages to forecast flooding.

USGS maintains a Streamgaging Network of operating sensors to record water levels on inland streams and rivers throughout the U.S., which provides real-time data to the National Weather Service, FEMA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and others. Normally used for non-emergency activities like managing water supplies and planning roads, bridges and recreational activities, during a storm threat the nation-wide network helps inform evacuation decisions and emergency response, as well as capturing landfall, time, depth, duration and retreat of storm-surge.

Crews are also preparing to forecast coastal change—the overwashing of dunes by high waters that relocates shorelines and changes the shape of islands—both at the local level and along the entire coastal zone in the hurricane’s path. Forty-eight hours after the storm, the USGS Coastal Change Hazards Portal will contain information about forecasted coastal change.

Those potentially in the path of the storm can visit (English) or (Spanish) for information on creating emergency plans and further information.

Further information on the storm can be found at he National Hurricane Center.

Storm Data:

USGS Flood Event Viewer

USGS Event Support—IRMA

This U.S. Geological Survey Storm-Tide Sensor was one of nine sensors deployed around Puerto Rico prior to Hurricane Irma. (USGS)

Hurricane Watch: Irma Approaching Virgin Islands


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The National Hurricane Center has issued a public advisory stating that Hurricane Irma will move over portions of the Virgin Islands soon, pass near or north of Puerto Rico this afternoon or tonight, pass near or north of the Dominican Republic Thursday and be near the Turks and Caicos and southeastern Bahamas late Thursday.

Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued in several counties in Florida, with further evacuation orders expected throughout today. Non-essential personnel and their families at the Naval Air Station Key West have been ordered to evacuate, while the Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba will remain open (Military Times).

Florida governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency Monday, and 7,000 national guard have been called to report by Friday, with all Florida members who reported to Texas to return to Florida (

Irma is a potentially catastrophic Category 5 storm with hurricane-force winds that extend outward up to 50 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds that extend outward up to 185 miles, with storm surge of up to 20 feet expected in some areas.

U.S. Coast Guard has set port condition Whiskey for Puerto Rico and Virgin Island ports including Port Miami, Miami River, Port Everglades, Port of Palm Beach and the Port of Fort Pierce.

For more information, visit the National Hurricane Center’s hurricane advisories, the NHC Marine Forecasts or the U.S. Coast Guard Storm Center.

Image: Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Update: Offshore Oil and Port Infrastructure

The U.S. Coast Guard reported ships entering and exiting the Houston Ship Channel on Labor Day and the Port of Houston is open just past the ExxonMobil Baytown facility for vessels up to a 40’ draft. Nearly a dozen other area ports are closed or open with restrictions.

According to the latest report from the offshore resources organization Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, 6.94% of offshore oil and 8.05% of natural gas production remains shut-in.

Fourteen of the total 737 offshore manned platforms in the Gulf of Mexico remain evacuated, while personnel have returned to the five previously evacuated drilling rigs including offshore drilling jackup rigs, platform rigs, submersibles and moored semisubmersibles.

You can follow offshore shut-ins and updates at the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

The Port of Houston reported no visible damage to containers, cranes or other terminal equipment, but eight refineries in the Gulf Coast region are still shut down, equal to 11.4% of total U.S. refining capacity. (See DOE’s Infrastructure Security and Energy Restoration situation reports for more information on infrastructure affected by the storm.)

Image: Hurricane Harvey headed for area with significant oil, natural gas infrastructure

International Ocean Film Festival Submissions Open


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The 15th Annual International Ocean Film Festival (IOFF) is now accepting film submissions. IOFF is the biggest festival of its kind in North America, featuring dozens of ocean-themed films by independent filmmakers from around the world.

Films can be be documentaries, narratives, shorts, animation or full-length films on topics including but not limited to marine wildlife, conservation, ocean environments, coastal cultures, ocean sports and exploration, ocean heroes and innovative technology designed to help protect the ocean.

The festival is held March 8-11, 2018 at Cowell Theater in Fort Mason, along the northern waterfront of San Francisco.

Student submissions opened today, and the early submission deadline for all films is October 1, 2017. Learn more.


More Rain to Come as Hurricane Harvey Returns to Land


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GOES-16 satellite captures images of Harvey moving east Tuesday, Aug. 29.

The fourth largest city in the U.S., Houston, Texas is experiencing disastrous rains from category 4 hurricane Harvey, which made landfall Friday Aug. 25, stalled over the city, and has poured unprecedented amounts of rain throughout the weekend.

With over 40 inches of rain in some areas, the total could rise to more than 50 inches before the storm subsides. The U.S. Coast Guard urges anyone in need of rescue to call the numbers listed on its Twitter page:

The Coast Guard has rescued at least 3,600 people, and at least ten people are dead, but accurate totals are impossible to gauge at this point. Further rain is expected throughout the week as Harvey returns to an already inundated Houston area, and at least one foot of water is expected to accumulate and cause some flooding on the Louisiana coast as the storm moves east.

Early this morning the storm intensity was estimated at 40 kt, but it is not expected to strengthen again before making its second landfall within the next two days. NOAA predicts “ongoing catastrophic and life-threatening flooding will continue across southeastern Texas.”

Coast Guard non-stop rescue operations continue with 20 helicopters and other teams from around the country including Florida and the Pacific Northwest, sending more members to the area.

See the latest forecasts at the National Hurricane Center:

Complicated Web of Technology, Human Error and Funding Questions May Be to Blame for USS McCain Collision


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(U.S. Navy photo by Master Chief Joshua Dumke/Released)

Ten sailors lost their lives last week when USS John S. McCain collided with a Liberian chemical tanker near Singapore. Early reports blamed a possible steering failure in the McCain vessel, and the question of cyber attack is still under investigation by the Navy.

While the problem may have been related to the ship’s integrated bridge navigation system (IBNS), the recipe for disastrous collisions at sea is more complicated than a single technological failure.

As Ars Technica reports, human error or a lack of “situational awareness” may be equally at fault: Extreme traffic congestion on marine highways like the Strait of Malacca where the collision occurred makes it hard to maintain comprehensive awareness, while complicated navigation and propulsion systems—often a mix of digital, analog and human effort—make quick adjustments difficult to execute when a navigational threat arises.

Questions are also surfacing about fatigue in sailors who work long hours under the pressure of steering in crowded waters in the employ of an American military dealing with funding uncertainty. Another stop-gap budget measure may be on the table this fall, and naval experts are asking if defense spending might be to blame for a summer of disaster on the water (see the Washington Examiner article: Deadly military crashes, collisions raise fears ahead of possible stop-gap budget).

Image: 170823-N-OU129-002 SINGAPORE (Aug. 23, 2017) U.S. Navy and Marine Corps divers provide support to the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) at Changi Naval Base in Singapore Aug. 23, 2017. John S. McCain sustained significant damage following a collision with the merchant vessel Alnic MC while underway east of the Strait of Malacca and Singapore on Aug. 21, 2017. 

USS Indianapolis Ruins Discovered in North Pacific


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The Portland-class heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis (CA 35) underway in Pearl Harbor in 1937. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

On Aug. 18, 2017 an expedition crew aboard RV Petrel, a research vessel owned by Paul Allen, located the remains of USS Indianapolis at a depth of 5,500 m in the North Pacific Ocean.

Indianapolis suffered an attack by Japanese submarine torpedoes in the final days of World War II after making a secret delivery to the island of Tinian with components of the nuclear weapons the U.S. dropped on Japan. The ship sunk within 12 minutes in the Philippine Sea on Jul. 30, 1945. Only 316 of the 1,196 men on board survived, including Captain Charles Butler McVay III.

The ship’s discovery this August follows a number of previous unsuccessful efforts in the decades since the war. Successful discovery was aided by information from a naval landing craft sighting on the night the ship sank, information gained from a Naval History and Heritage Command historian last year, and the use of RV Petrel’s subsea equipment capable of diving to 6,000 m.