OR&R, NOAA Provide Mission Support for Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute Underwater Vehicle Mission
FEB. 7, 2022 — Staff across several NOAA offices, including OR&R, recently supported scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) who remotely piloted a Long-Range Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (LRAUV) to a leaking shipwreck for further study.
Researchers from WHOI and MBARI contacted NOAA seeking information on the leaking frequency from Wreck 1487, a shipwreck about 70 nm south of Nantucket. Wreck 1487 may be the bow portion of the shipwreck Norness, and is part of NOAA’s Remediation of Underwater Legacy Environmental Threats program.
NOAA National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) shared historic and current satellite imagery of the leaking wreck site, and the Ocean Prediction Center of NOAA’s National Weather Service provided offshore weather forecasts before and during the mission. Staff from OR&R and the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries Program helped coordinate planning meetings, provided historical information on the wreck, and offshore current information. There was also significant interest from the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG).
The LRAUV Polaris was launched on January 20 from a USCG vessel just west of Martha’s Vineyard and transited for several days to the wreck. Upon arriving on scene, the vessel spent a few days transiting the area, “sniffing” for oil, and gathering additional environmental information. Much of the focus of the trip was testing new payload capabilities for long-range transits, vehicle agility, and satellite-based data transfers. Because of the recent nor'easter that brought significant winds and wave heights, the mission ended a bit early to ensure the LRAUV could be retrieved safely.