Arrival and Science Preparations

The science team from Korean Polar Research Institute (KOPRI), Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) and the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) assembled in Barrow, Alaska, on August 26, and we did a quick transfer by helicopter to the RV Araon, which was anchored just offshore. Within two hours everyone was on board, and we enjoyed our first meal on ship while the last of the gear was loaded onto the vessel. Then we began to unpack and settle in. Right on schedule at noon on August 27, we lifted anchor and began our transit to Canadian waters.

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Photo 1: Two helicopters work in tandem to transfer all of the personnel and gear on to the RV Araon

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Photo 2: GSC field party awaits their helicopter transfer to the vessel.

During our transit, lots of preparations have taken place. Each day starts with a science meeting where we discuss and refine the science objectives and tasks for the day. Science equipment and computers have been unpacked and set-up.

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Photo 3: The Chief Scientist, YK Jin from KOPRI, leads the daily science meeting.

Repositioning equipment on the deck:

MBARI’s mini remote-operated vehicle (ROV) and automated underwater vehicle (AUV) equipment was loaded in Korea in early July after being used for surveys in Taiwan. There was great relief that all of the equipment transited in good condition. The miniROV and AUV were assembled and repositioned on deck for good launch and recovery.

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Photo 4: Repositioning ROV winch on Araon deck.

Practice launch and recovery of AUV:

A challenging aspect of the AUV surveys is the launch and recovery of the vehicle, and this is the first time these tasks have been undertaken from the Araon. This morning, we anchored just off Herschel Island in preparation for the arrival of the Marine Mammal Observers. The wind conditions were light at 15 knots and the sea was relatively calm, which provided an excellent opportunity for practicing both the launch and recovery of the AUV.

The AUV was lifted by the crane and carefully placed over the side of the vessel. Tether lines were expertly used to control the AUV as it was lowered into the water.

We witnessed an excellent first deployment by the KOPRI crew with this new piece of equipment. They smoothly launched their Fast Response Craft (FRC) and the AUV recovery team proceeded to practice approaching the AUV and hooking the recovery line to the top of the AUV. This is not an easy task, particularly with 25 people watching you from the deck! This practice time has allowed the crew and the science team to tweak their methods and allows for smooth operations at sea when conditions will likely be more challenging.

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Photo 5: AUV over the side of the Araon during the practice deployment.

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Photo 6: KOPRI/MBARI recovery team practicing retrieval of the AUV.

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