Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Dave Conlin studied
anthropology and archeology as an undergraduate at Reed College in
Portland Oregon and continued his graduate studies in archeology at
Oxford University in England and at Brown University in Providence, Rhode
Island. He was the field director for the recovery of the Confederate submarine
H. L. Hunley in 2000, the
Ellis Island Ferry in 2002 and the
Lake Mead B-29 in 2002 and 2003.
Brain Salad Surgery
Jenni Burbank tends the VideoRay for
Tuesday's operation. NPS photo by Brett Seymour.
Today dawned a little clearer and less windy
than yesterday and we all headed to the park with a mixture of hope and
a lingering queasy feeling in the bottom of our stomachs. The
VideoRay ROV had spent the night splayed
out in pieces on one of our Pelican shipping cases like a Transformer
toy that had been through a blender. After dismantling our little
flooded robot yesterday and borrowing a dome port from the Navy (thanks
again Chief Petty Officer Keller and Petty Officer Ohalek from the
Regional Dive Locker, Pearl
Harbor), we decided to leave the sub open overnight to dry some more.
Our first task was to put the sub back together like it had been before
with our spare motherboard and the new dome. It took a little
figuring but we managed to connect all the right wires to all the right
places on the board and then get the sub ready for diving operations.
Marcus Kolb at VideoRay had been amazingly quick off the mark and our
replacement dome ports and spare ROV were winging their way across the
Pacific as we set up. Even so, if we couldn't get things operational on
our own, we'd be down until 4 or 4:30 in the afternoon at the earliest.
Fortunately, our ROV worked with its new brain and we were geared up and
ready to go.
The VideoRay carries the YSI in the Flag
Secretary's Stateroom. NPS photo by Brett Seymour.
The ROV operation has evolved into an extremely complex series of tasks
using complicated systems and sub-systems to get us what we want and
where we want to get it. Brett Seymour needs the Hydroflex lights to
shine through the porthole and let us see what's in the cabin and allow
us to document the data collection process. We need hard-wired
communications between the divers and the topside part of the team. We
have the VideoRay ROV, a GIS database of the different deck levels and
the YSI environmental sonde collection and calibration software. Brett
has digital, still and video cameras along with their lights and
associated parts and all of this is going on both topside and
The VideoRay investigates a desk in
the Marine Division Office collecting data with the YSI environmental
sonde. NPS photo by Brett Seymour.
Once we got everyone in the water with what they needed to operate
(Brett on camera, John Wehrle on light, Jenni Burbank on tether
management for the ROV, Art Ireland tending cables from the dock), we
headed aft to revisit some of the second deck cabins we had been in last
year. Our goal was to shake out the ROV and to get some longitudinal
data on the water chemistry inside the wreck. I was the ROV pilot, a
position where if you do your job well you might get a pat on the back
but if you do your job badly, you've got a $15,000 snag somewhere deep
in the bowels of a ship we won't enter. We started in the Marine
Division office, and then moved to the Flag Secretary's stateroom.
Everything went well until I snagged the ROV tether between the top of a
partly opened door and a bulkhead in the Flag Secretary's stateroom.
As Jenni alternately pushed and pulled lightly on the tether from
outside, I jiggled back and forth with the ROV and used my best body
English to get the tether out of the snag. After a few tense moments, we
finally got free. Does a resurrected ROV get nine lives or just
one? Let's hope the former. As we closed down operations for the day,
our new dome ports and spare ROV showed up in Hawaii as promised.
VideoRay and UPS -- what a team!
Dave Conlin (r.) flies the VideoRay on the
second deck while Matt Russell monitors the data and tracks the progress
with the GIS. Photo by Kelly Gleason.