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.
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.
NURTEC and its predecessor the NOAA Undersea Research Center for the North Atlantic and Great Lake (NURC-NA&GL) have supported over 4400 dives over the past 31 years utilizing a broad range of underwater technologies including SCUBA and mixed gas diving to a wide range of submersibles, several Remotely Operated Vehicles and autonomous underwater vehicles. While most of the NURC-NA&GL dives occurred within the Center’s regions of the northwest Atlantic and Great Lakes, there were also dives conducted around the world as part of the Large Lakes of the World initiative. More recently, NURTEC has supported customers with dives on the U.S. west coast, Gulf of Mexico, eastern seaboard and the Gulf of Maine.
Click here to download the map as a KMZ file for viewing in Google Earth:
The Center has endeavored to maintain a comprehensive metadata database of all of this diving activity that has recently been imported into Google Earth. You can access the KMZ file to view and explore the dives conducted by NURTEC over the years if you have Google Earth installed on your computer. Ideally this can serve as a resource for scientists, managers and educators interested in learning more about a particular dive site(s). In many cases NURTEC maintains video tapes from these areas in its video archive and DVD copies of these tapes can be provided a small recharge fee.