Seeing the undersea world in 360-degree view is something that’s often been discussed but hard to execute without significant investment of time and resources. However, with recent advances in high definition cameras, the advent of other POV or on-person cameras and other compact digital recording devices, access to seeing the underwater world in full view is a reality. Working in the deep ocean requires special consideration given extreme pressure, darkness and the all-encompassing possibility of water intrusion. Thanks to the engineering and product development team at Battelle, a new high resolution 360-degree view camera has been developed and OceanGate was fortunate enough to field-test this latest equipment on its 5-man submersible Antipodes.
Stunning resolution, real-time image manipulation and easy monitoring make the Battelle HorizonVue optical lens assembly an amazing technology that can be easily adapted to a variety of applications, including a deep sea manned submersible.
Working closely with the Battelle team, OceanGate’s Erika Montague, Director of Science and Technology, helped manage the integration and adaption of the HorizonVue camera onto Antipodes with assistance and leadership support from Brad Thomas of Battelle, who flew out to Seattle from Ohio to help. Together, the two professionals developed a well thought out plan to ship the camera and get it installed on Antipodes, on an accelerated schedule.
After working out some integration issues and installing a new cable on one of the sub’s main through-hull penetrators, the camera was powered up and dry-tested in OceanGate’s operations facility before being more permanently installed and readied for salt water-testing.
The integration and installation went very well, requiring little downtime or man-hours to configure and set up. This is a huge benefit to any operator as in-field applications can be challenging, given limited resources or access required for specialty parts and equipment. Other attractive benefits of the HorizonVue camera are its compact design, low-impact footprint and efficient power management system requirements. All-important things to consider when affixing it to an advanced manned submersible!
The opportunity for Battelle to field-test the new camera on a sub was opportune as Thomas so appropriately commented, “it’s pretty challenging to find a place in Ohio to test a deep ocean underwater camera!” So true!
With the camera mounted to the conning tower on Antipodes and laptop computer connected inside the main pressure vessel, operations commenced in Puget Sound outside of Shilshole Bay Marina, conducting multiple test dives throughout the day.
The overall results and imagery were outstanding. During surface operations, the HorizonVue improved the submersible crew’s visibility of ship support operations and potential surface marine hazards. As lighting conditions changed while the submersible descended to the wreck site target, Thomas adjusted the camera’s settings and was able to test in situ optimal levels to maximize performance. Montague and Thomas then tested the camera in several scenarios during multiple dives and discussed ways to improve lighting and mounting options for future expeditions.
Together, Battelle and OceanGate will continue maximize these preferences though iterative technology testing on OceanGate’s submersibles. The HorizonVue’s extreme flexibility and depth rating (6,000 m) offer countless imaging opportunities for OceanGate’s team.
Another great day at sea! Thanks to Battelle for making this opportunity available to the team at OceanGate, Inc. Since seeing is definitely believing, the OceanGate team unanimously agreed that is one piece of equipment we want to outfit on every one of our submersibles!
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