Isis is based at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton and maintained by the National Marine Facilities Sea Systems Deep Platforms Group. Unfortunately, during a deployment in the Southern Ocean in January 2011, Isis was damaged badly in an accident involving the ship’s propeller so for the last 6 months, Deep Platforms Group have been re-building the ROV, a task that was completed at the end of July 2012. Although Isis is capable of working to depths of 6500m, she is configured only for 2500m on this trial.
Cruise JC076T started in the dock at Southampton during the early evening of Monday 13 August when the ROV team deployed Isis successfully in a ‘wet test’ for the first time since the accident on January 19 2011.
The next morning, against a backdrop of sunshine and a blue sky, the RRS James Cook set sail for the Porcupine Abyssal Plain in the mid-east Atlantic. As we sailed past Calshot, we watched the Harbour Master from ABP Southampton collect the pilot once the James Cook was beyond Calshot Spit. This is Cowes week so there were dozens of yachts scattered about, requiring the James Cook to sound her horn occasionally, to warn of our approach.
During the first day of the Trials Cruise, the James Cook undertook some ‘handbrake turns’ to test the autopilot system. Turning the vessel at speeds of up to 11 knots, she turned neatly and smoothly, demonstrating a successful test!
The key objectives for cruise JC076T:
- Commission and train deck officers in new adaptive autopilot unit
- Test the operation and functionality of the ROV Isis following a substantial rebuild
- Finalise and confirm procedures for the safe and effective operation of the ROV Isis
- Test the operation and functionality of TOBI2 in series of medium and deep dives
- Calibrate the USBL transducer
- Launch a NOC Seaglider (Coprolite)
- Undertake familiarisation and knowledge of navigation and DP systems and contingency actions in the event of failure
- Confirm knowledge and competence of marine staff in emergency procedures through auditing.