Monterey Expedition 2012: Week 2

Building upon the collaborative momentum among submersible operators started at the 2012 DeepBLUE Initiative, OceanGate’s second week in Monterey provided a chance to connect with a diverse group of stakeholders during a week of diving. The week included outreach services to OceanGate Foundation, collaboration with partners, testing innovative camera systems and a dive with OceanGate’s newest Board Member.

Home to a rich history of ocean-related activity, the Monterey Bay coastline, once an epicenter of the largest sardine canning plants in the United States, is now dotted with ocean enthusiasts kayaking, diving and inspecting the busy work of inter-tidal life. During week two of the Monterey Expedition 2012, OceanGate’s 5-man submersible, Antipodes, made her way beyond the shelter of the shore to explore the Art Riedel, Sr. wreck, a 235-foot barge resting in 300 feet of water. The Art Riedel, Sr. is home to a wide range of sea life at depths only reachable to humans by submersible and the most experienced technical divers.

Our first dive of the expedition allowed us to shake the dust off Antipodes after a her cross-country journey and set up for a week of dives with ExploreOcean, students and equipment tests. On the second day, Antipodes was prepared for a dive at the Art Riedel, Sr. wreck to 300 feet with Super Aviator operators John Lewis and Dave Harper. Sub Aviator Systems and OceanGate team members compared notes oncapabilities, operational methods and the experience of their respective submersibles. Both groups gained valuable knowledge, as it was evident the complementary potential to using both vehicles (Antipodes and Super Aviator) in future missions. For example, the filming of a bait ball sequence would benefit from the use of both subs as camera platforms with Antipodes’s station-keeping abilities to film up-close shots and Super Aviator’s speed to follow large predators.

Close up views through Antipodes's viewing dome of the wreck of the Art Riedel, Sr.

The third day of diving was an excellent opportunity to highlight Antipode’s capabilities to OceanGate’s newest board member and ocean advocate, David de Rothschild. Mr. de Rothschild’s excitement from his dive experience and the technology was clear and he produced this statement shortly after his return: “We’re at a time when businesses need to think beyond the boundaries of traditional thinking and explore ways to not only grow financially but also manage and integrate a clear and responsible social and environmental vision. In my opinion, OceanGate optimizes this ethos throughout. That’s why I am proud and excited to join their board on their epic adventure to become a world leader in ocean exploration and research.”

David de Rothschild enjoys seeing the underwater world in a whole new way during his first manned submersible dive.

ExploreOcean, one of OceanGate’s primary clients while in Monterey, provided board members and students from California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) an opportunity to dive in Antipodes. Students from CSUMB and Dr. Steve Moore’s class built and tested their underwater video camera system at the Art Riedel, Sr. dive site. Using a small IR sensor attached to the outside of Antipodes dome, the students controlled the external camera with a remote device from inside of the submersible. This experience not only gave the students real-world experience but also the thrill of watching their hard work in action at 300-feet deep!

OceanGate was excited to test out our own technological interests in the sub this week. Google generously loaned us a 360-degree video camera system with similar technology to Google’s Street View cameras, which was initially tested inside the submersible during Mr. de Rothschild’s dive. One of Google’s technical members joined us to provide advice and optimization of the 360-degree camera during ExploreOcean’s dives. This was especially exciting for the CSUMB’s students who were concurrently testing their IR-controlled video camera mounted to the front bar of Antipodes during these dives.

OceanGate’s time in Monterey was a huge success. We proved our capabilities as a leading submersible service provider while expanding on our technical capacity and outreach interests.