DSV Alvin: Difference between revisions

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[[Image:ALVIN submersible.jpg|right|thumb|''Alvin'' in 1978, a year after first exploring [[hydrothermal vent]]s.]]
 
'''''Alvin''''' ('''DSV-2''') is a 16-ton, manned deep-ocean research [[submersible]] owned by the [[United States Navy]] and operated by the [[Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution]] (WHOI) in [[Woods Hole, Massachusetts]]. The craft was built by [[General Mills]]' Electronics Group<ref>[http://www.whoi.edu/page.do?pid=10737 History of Alvin : Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution<!-- Bot generated title -->]</ref> in the same factory used to manufacture breakfast cereal-producing machinery in [[Minneapolis, Minnesota]]. Named to honor the prime mover and creative inspiration for the vehicle, [[Allyn Vine]], ''Alvin'' was commissioned on 5 June 1964.
 
The submersible is launched from the deep submergence support vessel [[R/V Atlantis (AGOR-25)|''Atlantis'']], which is also owned by the U.S. Navy and operated by WHOI. The submersible has taken 12,000 people on over 4,000 dives to observe the lifeforms that must cope with super-pressures and move about in total darkness. It is said that research conducted by ''Alvin'' has been featured in nearly 2,000 scientific papers.
 
 
''Alvin'' was designed as a replacement for [[bathyscaphe]]s and other less maneuverable [[oceanography|oceanographic]] vehicles. Its more nimble design was made possible in part by the development of [[syntactic foam]], which is buoyant and yet strong enough to serve as a structural material at great depths. The three-person vessel allows for two scientists and one pilot to dive for up to nine hours at 4500 meters (15,000 ft). The submersible features two robotic arms and can be fitted with mission-specific sampling and experimental gear. The hatch of the vessel is 0.48 meters (19 inches) in diameter and somewhat thicker than the 2 in (50 mm) thick titanium pressure hull,<ref>http://www.whoi.edu/page.do?pid=9915</ref>, and held in place by the pressure of the water above it (it is tapered, narrower inward).
 
 
== History ==
 
=== Early career ===
 
''Alvin'', first of its class of [[Deep Submergence Vehicle]] (DSV), was built to dive to 2440 meters (8000 ft). Each of the ''Alvin-class'' DSVs have different depth capabilities. However ''Alvin'' is the only one seconded to the [[National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration]] (NOAA), with the others staying with the [[United States Navy]]. On 17 March 1966, ''Alvin'' was used to locate a submerged 1.45-megaton [[hydrogen bomb]] lost in a [[United States Air Force]] [[1966 Palomares B-52 crash|midair accident]] over [[Palomares, Almería|Palomares]], [[Spain]]. The bomb, found resting nearly 910 meters (3000 ft) deep, was raised intact on 7 April.
 
 
=== Sinking ===
 
The ''Alvin'', aboard the NOAA tender ship ''Lulu'', was lost as it was being transported in October 1968. The ''Lulu'', a vessel created from a pair of decommissioned US Navy [[Pontoon (boat)|pontoon boat]]s with a support structure added on, was lowering ''Alvin'' over the side when two steel cables snapped, while ''Alvin'' had three crewmembers aboard and the hatch open. Situated between the pontoons with no deck underneath, the ''Alvin'' hit the water and rapidly started to sink. The three crewmembers managed to escape, but ''Alvin'' flooded and sank in 1500 meters (5000 ft) of water.<ref name="Salvops69">"[http://www.essmnavy.net/SALVOPS%2069.pdf Salvops 69]", "A review of significant salvage operations conducted by U.S. Navy salvage forces and other salvage activities during 1969", pp. 1-18, Department of the Navy, Naval Ship Systems Command, Washington, D.C.</ref>
 
 
Severe weather prevented the recovery of Alvin throughout late 1968, but it was photographed on the bottom in June 1969 by a sled towed by [[USNS Mizar (T-AGOR-11)|USS Mizar]]. ''Alvin'' was found to be upright and appeared intact except for damage to the stern. It was decided to attempt recovery; although no object of ''Alvin'''s size had ever been recovered from a depth of 5,000 feet, recovery was "deemed to be within the state of the art". In August 1969, the ''[[Aluminaut]]'', another DSV built by [[Reynolds Metals]] Aluminum Company, descended to ''Alvin'' but had trouble attaching the required lines, and side effects from [[Hurricane Camille]] were producing worsening weather, causing the team to return to [[Woods Hole]] to regroup. The second attempt started on August 27, and ''Aluminaut'' was able to secure a line and safety slings on the ''Alvin'', and wrapped a prefabricated nylon net around its hull, allowing it to be hauled up by the ''Mizar''. ''Alvin'' was towed, submerged at 40 feet, at a speed of 2 knots, back to [[Woods Hole]].<ref name ="Salvops69"/>
 
 
''Alvin'' was so intact that lunches left on board were soggy but edible. This incident led to a more comprehensive understanding that near-freezing temperatures and the lack of decaying bacteria at increased depths which prevented biological decay. Researchers found a cheese-sandwich which exhibited no viable signs of decomposition, and was in fact eaten. This event led researchers to examine decay at extreme environments (Smith et al 1998) . The ''Alvin'' required a major overhaul after the incident.
 
 
=== Post-sinking career ===
 
In 1973, Alvin's pressure hull was replaced by a newer titanium pressure hull. The new hull extended the submersible's maximum depth to about 4500 meters (15,000 ft).
 
 
===Black smokers===
 
In 1977, during an expedition led by [[Robert Ballard]] and sponsored by the [[National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration]] (NOAA), ''Alvin'' discovered and documented the existence of [[black smoker]]s around the [[Galapagos Islands]]. Existing at a depth of more than 2000 meters, black smokers emit a strong flow of black, smoky water, superheated to over 400&nbsp;°[[Celsius|C]] (750&nbsp;°[[Fahrenheit|F]]). Alvin was able to sample the water from a black smoker. Alvin discovered that the [[pH]] was roughly 2.8.{{Fact|date=November 2008}}
 
 
===Exploration of RMS ''Titanic''===
 
Most famously, ''Alvin'' was involved in the exploration of the wreckage of [[RMS Titanic|RMS ''Titanic'']] in 1986. Launched from her support ship [[RV Atlantis II|R/V ''Atlantis II'']], she carried Dr. [[Robert Ballard]] and two companions to the wreckage of the great liner. RMS ''Titanic'' sank in 1912 after striking an [[iceberg]] while crossing the North Atlantic Ocean on her [[maiden voyage]].
 
 
''Alvin'', accompanied by a small [[remotely operated vehicle]] (ROV) named ''[[Jason Jr.]]'', was able to conduct detailed photographic surveys and inspections of the ''Titanic's'' wreckage. Many of the photographs of the expedition have been published in the magazine of the [[National Geographic Society]] which was a major sponsor of the expedition.
 
 
Of note, the [[Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute]] team involved in the Titanic expedition also managed to locate the wreck of the [[USS Scorpion (SSN-589)]], a nuclear armed Skipjack class submarine which sank off the coast of the Azores in 1968. The ''Alvin'' was able to obtain photographic and other environmental monitoring data from the remains of the Scorpion.
 
 
===Recent overhauls===
 
Over the years, the ''Alvin'' has undergone many overhauls to improve its equipment and extend its lifetime. The most recent overhaul was during 2001 in which, among other equipment, motor controllers and computer systems were added. The current Alvin is the same as the original vessel in name and general design only. All components of the vessel including the frame and personnel sphere have been replaced at least once. Alvin is completely disassembled every three to five years for a complete inspection.<ref>http://www.whoi.edu/page.do?pid=8422 Woods Hole </ref> A new robotic arm was added in 2006.
 
 
===Current work===
 
In June 2008 construction started on a stronger and slightly larger personnel sphere which may be used to upgrade Alvin (for use from 2011), before being used in an entirely new vehicle.<ref>http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/26/science/26alvi.html Forging a new sphere</ref> The new sphere will have five view ports (instead of the current three) and is designed for depths of over 6,000 metres (Alvin = 4,500 metres).
 
 
===A possible replacement===
 
On 6 August 2004, the [[National Science Foundation]] announced the creation of a new Human Occupied Vehicle (HOV) to replace the aging ''Alvin''. The new vehicle is being designed to dive deeper up to 6500 meters (21,000 ft) as opposed to Alvin's 4500 meters and use new scientific equipment. The personnel sphere will be larger, and it is expected that the battery capacity will be greatly increased enabling longer bottom times. The new deep sea submarine is in the preliminary manufacturing phases and is expected to be completed as early as the end of 2011. Some components of the current Alvin are anticipated to be used in the new Alvin replacement vehicle. Due to export laws, the vehicle cannot be sold to parties outside of the United States. The fate of the Alvin when this new submersible arrives is unknown, but due to the limited market for sale and stripping of components for use on the new vehicle, it will likely be placed in a museum.
 
 
[[Lockheed Martin]] is designing the Alvin replacement vehicle as a nonclassified project and classing the vehicle to [[American Bureau of Shipping]] Rules.
 
 
Contrary to a [[BBC]] article published in October 2004 <ref>[http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3757732.stm ''Science salutes its ocean giant''], Virginia Phillips, [[BBC News]] [[website]], 22 October 2004.</ref>, the ''Alvin'' has not yet been retired from service.
 
 
== Operation ==
 
{{Expand-section|date=June 2008}}
 
''Alvin'' uses four 208-pound steel weights (~1.7 cubic feet of steel) to provide negative buoyancy for the trip to the ocean floor. ''Alvin'' contains a ballast and trim system, but the steel weights allow deep dives to be achieved more rapidly. These weights are jettisoned on each dive and left at the bottom.<ref>[http://www.marinetech.org/nine_degrees/expedition.php?phase=log&date=942912000&base=expo942864462&picnum=0 MATE - Expedition Log<!-- Bot generated title -->]</ref><ref>[http://www.whoi.edu/oceanus/viewArticle.do?id=5599 WHOI : Oceanus : Alvin's Pilots<!-- Bot generated title -->]</ref>
 
 
[[Image:ALVIN Panorama.jpg|thumb|center|800px|The DSV ALVIN on the fantail (stern) of the [[RV Atlantis (AGOR-25)|R/V Atlantis]] following a dive. On the right side of the photograph the A-frame crane can be seen that lowers the ALVIN into the water and on the left, the ALVIN's hangar.]]
 
 
== See also ==
 
*[[Black smoker]]
 
*[[hydrothermal vent]]
 
*[[Deep submergence vehicle]]
 
*[[Oceanic ridge]]
 
 
===Alvin class DSV===
 
* [[Alvin (DSV-2)]]
 
* [[Turtle (DSV-3)]]
 
* [[Sea Cliff (DSV-4)]]
 
* [[Nemo (DSV-5)]]
 
* [[Nautile]]
 
 
===Other deep submergence vehicles===
 
*''[[Aluminaut]]''
 
*''[[Avalon (DSRV)]]''
 
*''[[Bathyscaphe Trieste|Trieste]]''
 
*''[[Bathyscaphe Trieste II|Trieste II]]''
 
*''[[DSRV-1 Mystic]]''
 
*''[[NR-1]]''
 
* [[MIR (submersible)|''MIR 1'' and ''MIR 2'']]
 
*''[[Shinkai 6500]] and [[Shinkai 2500]]''
 
 
== References ==
 
*{{cite book | title=Water Baby: The Story of Alvin | author= Kaharl, Victoria A. | date=1 October 1990 | isbn=0-19-506191-8 | publisher=Oxford University Press, USA}}
 
*{{cite book | title=The Restless Sea: Exploring the World Beneath the Waves | author=Kunzig, Robert | publisher=W. W. Norton & Company | edition=1st ed edition | date=1 March 1999 | isbn=0-393-04562-5}}
 
 
==Notes==
 
 
{{reflist}}
 
 
== External links ==
 
{{commons|Category:Alvin (DSV-2)|Alvin (DSV-2)}}
 
*[http://www.titanic-titanic.com/discovery_of_titanic.shtml Discovery of Titanic]
 
*[http://www.whoi.edu/marops/vehicles/alvin/index.html WHOI's Alvin pages]
 
*[http://www.nvr.navy.mil/nvrservicecraft/details/DSV2.htm (ex-ALVIN)]
 
* [http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov Ocean Explorer (http://www.oceanexplorer.noaa.gov)] - Public outreach site for explorations sponsored by NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration & Research.
 
* [http://www.ncddc.noaa.gov/website/google_maps/mapsOE.htm NOAA, Ocean Explorer Google Map]
 
* [http://www.oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/technology/subs/alvin/alvin.html NOAA, Ocean Explorer Technology] - Alvin Submersible
 
* [http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/gallery/gallery.html NOAA, Ocean Explorer Gallery] - A rich collection of images, video, audio and [http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/podcast/oceanexplorer_podcast.xml podcast].
 
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBf5x72Rc60 NOAA, Ocean Explorer YouTube Channel] - Deep Slope 2006: Alvin Submersible "Brine Lake Wave at 7,644 ft"
 
 
{{physical oceanography}}
 
{{WHOI-Ships}}
 
 
[[Category:Alvin class DSV|Alvin]]
 
[[Category:United States submarine accidents]]
 
[[Category:Maritime incidents in 1968|Alvin]]
 
[[Category:Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution]]
 
[[Category:Ships built in Minnesota|Alvin]]
 
 
[[de:Alvin (DSV-2)]]
 
[[eo:Alvin (submarŝipo)]]
 
[[fr:Alvin (DSV-2)]]
 
[[ja:アルビン号]]
 

Revision as of 20:39, 9 March 2010