Fishing for data

1 May 2019

It’s the end of our first week at sea and things have settled into a steady routine. In comparison to the last couple of days today has been relatively calm… the perfect time to go fishing. Not the normal kind of fishing though – we’re off catching sophisticated underwater robots!

Our goal today was to complete a comprehensive study of the area to identify all the natural and pre-existing man-made features on the seabed. Sounds easy, right? Well, it is when using our Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV), the Gavia  – or as we call her – Freya. Unlike our ROV Isis, Freya does everything on her own. The team just needs to programme in the survey route, drop her in the water and away she goes.

Away she goes: launching the AUV Gavia (or Freya as she’s affectionately known) over the side of the ship

Looking like a mini torpedo, Freya carries an impressive array of kit. Today she carried an underwater camera, a sub-bottom profiler and a SeaFET chemical sensor, all of which will provide invaluable information about the area around the experimental site. The most difficult task for us on the ship is getting the AUV back on board. Once the Gavia surfaces the team sets out on a mini “fishing trip” in the smaller speedboat to hook her up and drag her back to the ship where she can be winched back on board.

Fishing for data: the recovery team use a grapple hook from the smaller speedboat to catch the AUV once her mission is complete.

Once safely back on board the ship, we can retrieve the data and find out what she saw on the seafloor!

And for those of you who prefer action movies, here’s the AUV recovery process in high speed…


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