Antipodes Special Survey Underway

Over the next few months OceanGate’s flagship submersible Antipodes will undergo a comprehensive special survey under the guidance of VP of Operations Chris Hartman. This survey, a standard practice every three years for submersibles, is required by the American Bureau of Shipping rules in order to maintain ABS classification. Antipodes, which is classed ✠A1 by ABS, last underwent a special survey in 2010 and has since undergone two required annual ABS surveys. The special survey, now ongoing at OceanGate’s headquarters in Woodinville, Washington, demonstrates our company’s commitment to safety and evidences the preparedness and expertise of our team.

While the annual ABS survey primarily involves an external examination of the submersible, the special involves a much more comprehensive battery of tests.  To prepare for these tests, the first task for our operations team was to erect a custom plastic tent around Antipodes. This was necessary to create a sealed environment to prevent the possibility of oxygen components being contaminated during reassembly, as well as to create an environment of positive pressure around the vessel.  Ample macro and micro lighting elements were assembled within the clean room to provide for improved visual inspection.

Tent enclosure constructed to prevent contamination during the special survey.

Among the comprehensive tests required during the special survey is a non-destructive testing of the hull surface. This test uses a dye penetrant to measure the structural integrity of the metal.

Close up view of dye applied to lifting point.

Another major component of the survey is the removal, inspection, and cleaning of Antipodes’ twin 58-inch hemispherical acrylic domes. Removing the domes, each of which weighs 450 pounds, requires placing industrial suction cups on them and using a crane to carefully support and move them. 

Suction cups and crane used to remove Antipodes' 58" diameter viewing dome.

Once Antipodes is fully disassembled and inspected, the “dry” reassembly portion of the special survey, primarily consisting of the reassembly of components, will take four to six weeks.  Following that, the “wet” portion of the special will occur over three to five days. This will involve determining that all systems are fully functional in dive mode, and will culminate with a dive to Antipodes' full depth rating, 305 meters (1,000 feet), with an ABS inspector on board.  Antipodes will then be ready for a full year of diving until her next annual survey.

Our approach in this endeavor is to meet or exceed every requirement of the survey so that our professionals are ready in the upcoming year to provide customized solutions for each of our clients. During the next few months we’ll be working to strengthen our network of top-tier technology and engineering partnerships so that we are able to leverage our core competencies in a way that guarantees the achievement of our clients’ business and scientific objectives. Antipodes and OceanGate will emerge from the survey more prepared than ever to deliver our comprehensive and cost-effective ocean expertise.