This morning, R/V Falkor left Pascagoula heading offshore toward a study site about 140 kilometers southeast. Following the ship familiarization, the arriving group of scientists started preparations for the upcoming sample collections. Captain Heiko Volz conducted a mandatory safety drill so that everyone onboard practiced getting their life jackets and immersion suits and reporting to the designated areas. Repeated practice helps ensure that everyone does the right thing in case of a real emergency.
During the initial transit, R/V Falkor engineering team led by Chief Engineer Miroslav Mirchev saved the day by repairing the multicorer that was damaged by rocks on the final deployment of leg 1. Engineers are behind-the-scenes heroes of all ship’s life support systems—from lights, to hot water, to all of the mechanical complexities of the engines. When something breaks in a home, a plumber, or electrician, or a handyman can be called to rescue. At sea, R/V Falkor onboard engineering team must be prepared to support ship’s normal operation without external support under all circumstances. The engineers keep spare parts and raw materials on hand for repairs. They are skilled at machining replacement parts with on-board lathes and mills, welding, plubming, and all sorts of creative problem-solving to address a wide range of unforeceen technical issues that may arise at sea. The science party was very grateful for their expertise and enthusiasm while helping to repair the damaged multicorer.
The multicorer’s central shaft has been bent significantly by impact with something hard on the seafloor. Miro examined the damage and felt confident that his team could fix it. The engineers machined a new shaft from raw materials and then installed it on the multicore. To test the repairs, the instrument was deployed in a shallow water area at about 45 meters depth. Marine technician Leighton Rolley instrumented the multicorer frame with three small video cameras protected in underwater housings to help troubleshoot any remaining issues with the instrument. The footage proved valuable for fine-tuning the repairs so that the multicorer could be fully functional once again.
An underwater video from the Schmidt Ocean Institute research vessel Falkor showing the multicorer triggering and collecting mud samples from the sea floor on Nov. 20, 2012. This was a shallow water deployment to test the multicorer trigger mechanism. Video credit: Schmidt Ocean Institute marine technician Leighton Rolley.
While the ship’s engineers were repairing the multicorer, ROV Global Explorer MK3 operational team completed installation of a replacement tether between the vehicle and ROV clump weight. The tether had been damaged during recovery in strong currents on the final dive of the previous leg. The pilots also installed a customized “bio box” supplied by Chuck Fisher to protect live coral specimens from temperature changes during recovery from the depth.
The ship continued its transit toward deeper waters and the targeted research site known as VK826. Just after dinner, the multicorer was deployed to 500 meters near VK286. To a great delight of the scientists onboard, it returned with all eight core liners filled with gooey sediment samples for the science team.
Throughout the night, the ship conducted multibeam mapping surveys over VK826 to give the researchers high-quality bathymetry data that will aid their planned research in the area. The first ROV dive of this leg is planned for early morning tomorrow.