NURTEC Recovers NOAA NMFS HabCam4

On Saturday May 15, 2016 NURTEC was contacted by scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) who were assisting NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) conduct the annual spring scallop surveys off the RV Hugh Sharpe using a towed camera sled called the HabCam4 valued at $450,000. The survey team had lost the sled by hanging it up on one of the largest known wrecks on the eastern seaboard, the Bow Mariner. The Bow Mariner was a 600-foot long chemical tanker carrying 3.19 million gallons of ethyl alcohol that caught fire and exploded in February 2004, killing 21 of the 27-member crew.

HabCam4 and K2 on deck
NOAA’s HabCam4 and UConn’s Kraken2 on the Deck of the RV Hugh Sharpe following the recovery operation

See a short video of the recovery of the HabCam4

On Monday, May 17th NOAA requested NURTEC to mobilize the K2 ROV to attempt to recover the HabCam4, and a proposal was routed through Sponsored Programs Services in a matter of hours and NOAA issued a Purchase Order by the end of the day – truly a herculean administrative effort by everyone involved. The K2 was mobilized the next day and completed setup on the Sharpe by Wednesday and commenced diving on the wreck on Thursday. The HabCam4 was hung up deep within the wreckage of the ship, but with great skill and care working amid a substantial debris field the K2 operators Kevin Joy and Dennis Arbige were able to locate and connect a recovery cable to the HabCam4 which allowed it to be rescued from the clenches of the Bow Mariner.