Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Day 5 - Isis returns to the deep!

Today was a big day for the ROV team as they prepared to launch Isis  for the first open sea trial since the accident in January 2011. Early afternoon, the team went through final pre-dive checks. The atmosphere on deck and in the Isis  Control Van was one of tension and excitement as the culmination of months of work came to a head.

Allan, Andy and Russ 
Dave Turner gives the 'tool box' talk
Dave Turner gathered together the ROV team and ship's crew for a ‘tool- box’ talk – this is carried out before deployments. The team leader runs through the launch and recovery process, checking that everyone is aware of their responsibilities.

Moments from descending into the deep...
With the team good to go, Dave switched on the winch for launch. Steadily, Isis  was lifted off the deck and I felt an immense sense of pride in all who have worked so hard for this moment. She was manoeuvred carefully over the ocean, her iconic red and yellow livery standing out against the backdrop of an overcast rainy sky. We watched in anticipation as she hovered momentarily over the sea then descended rapidly into the deep.

James Cooper in the Control Van
In the dark of the Control Van, the team watched multiple screens linked to cameras on the robot which captured footage of shoals of brilliant silver fish darting into view as Isis  descended down to 500 m. Today’s trial enabled the team to complete testing and checks as they prepare Isis  for her next science cruise. James Cooper tested the predator manipulator arms, working them through their range of movement. We watched on the screens, each claw opening and closing, the arms moving up and down, to the side and back.

The team continued to check and test the functionality of the vehicle, her computer systems and cameras. Eventually, the decision was made to bring Isis  back to the surface as some tweaks were needed and daylight hours were beginning to fade. Although the winch proved problematic during recovery, eventually Isis  was restored on deck and lashed down for the night.

Isis is recovered to deck on the launch and recovery system
Today was a triumph for Deep Platforms Group and all who have contributed to this project. This is just the beginning of the new phase in the role of this amazing robot. Isis  is back and ready to take on the deep once again!

The first dive video of the newly rebuilt Isis  ROV