The 2012 Ocean Gate Monterey Expedition highlighted OceanGate’s ability to call upon its team’s wide range of talents in order to create customized, comprehensive manned-submersible solutions for clients, partners, and associates. It was also a great opportunity to connect with many different stakeholders involved with ocean filmmaking and conservation, and to spread our mission of opening the oceans.
The first week of the Ocean Gate Monterey Expedition 2012 was centered around OceanGate’s multiple roles and responsibilities as a sponsor of BLUE Ocean Film Festival and Conservation Event, and as organizer of the Deep BLUE Initiative. OceanGate coordinated logistics for three manned submersible operators — Virgin Oceanic, the Waitt Institute, and Hawkes Ocean Technologies — who displayed submarines for BLUE attendees and the general public alongside OceanGate’s flagship, Antipodes.
The film festival and Deep BLUE allowed OceanGate to spread its mission of opening the oceans with manned submersibles to a large number of filmmakers, conservationists, researchers, citizen scientists, as well as the general public.
The centerpiece of BLUE was a truly historic event, the Deep BLUE Initiative, which brought together four private submarines as part of the event’s mission to promote awareness about the world’s oceans. The Deep BLUE Initiative, coordinated by former OceanGate COO Guillermo Söhnlein as part of BLUE’s manned-submersible program, brought together some of the most innovative technologies for exploring and studying the sea. OceanGate’s own flagship, Antipodes, was on display alongside the DeepFlight Super Falcon from Hawkes Ocean Technologies, DeepFlight Challenger from Virgin Oceanic, and Dual DeepWorker from the Waitt Institute. Also participating, though without their submarines, were several other manned submersible builders and operators, including: Will Kohnen of SEAmagine (USA), John Lewis of SubAviators (USA), Phil Nuytten of Nuytco (Canada), and Karl Stanley of Stanley Submarines (Honduras). The initiative proved to be an extraordinary opportunity for the ocean community and general public to have the first-hand experience of interacting with manned submersibles. The logistical management required to bring together these four submersibles was facilitated by OceanGate’s expertise in mobilizing specialized assets. OceanGate’s small team of cross-trained Sub Expeditionary Unit (SEU) members is trained in deploying containerized assets to perform field operations.
Another key facet in OceanGate’s participation in Deep BLUE was Söhnlein’s direction of a panel discussion titled, “All the World’s a Stage: Filmmakers’ Front Seat to the Ocean Depths.” Co-panelists included John Lewis of Sub Aviator Systems, Karl Stanley of the Roatan Institute of Deepsea Exploration, and Bob Talbot. The unique backgrounds and experiences of these panelists in sub design and operation enabled them to discuss how the specific capabilities of particular subs make them superior platforms for certain missions.
The OceanGate Foundation, one of the primary Ocean Gate Monterey clients, provided board members and students from California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) an opportunity to dive in Antipodes. CSUMB students of Dr. Steve Moore used the opportunity to test an underwater video camera system they’d developed. Using a small infrared sensor attached to the outside of Antipodes' dome, the students controlled the external camera with a remote device from inside the submersible while diving on the wreck of the Art Riedel Sr. This experience not only gave the students real-world experience but also gave them the thrill of seeing their handiwork in action at a depth of 300 feet.
OceanGate was also able to test a 360-degree video camera system on loan from Google. The camera, using similar technology to Google’s Street View cameras, was tested inside the submersible as the CSUMB’s students concurrently tested their IR-controlled video camera mounted to the front bar of Antipodes. A staff member of Google provided technical assistance.
Building upon the collaborative momentum developed among submersible operators during Deep BLUE, OceanGate’s second week in Monterey provided a chance to connect with a diverse group of stakeholders during several days of diving. With 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 teeming with ocean enthusiasts busy kayaking, diving and studying the bay’s inter-tidal life.
During week two of the Ocean Gate Monterey Expedition 2012, OceanGate’s 5-man submersible Antipodes made her way beyond the shelter of the near shore to explore the wreck of the Art Riedel Sr., a 235-foot barge resting in 300 feet of water. The wreck is home to a wide range of sea life at depths only reachable to the most experienced technical divers or by submersible.
The first dive allowed the team to shake the dust off Antipodes after her cross-country journey. On the second day, Antipodes dove with Super Aviator operators John Lewis and Dave Harper. Lewis, Harper, and OceanGate team members compared notes on capabilities, operational methods and the experience of their respective submersibles. Both groups gained valuable knowledge, and the complementary potential of using both vehicles (Antipodes and Super Aviator) in future missions was obvious.
The third day of diving provided an excellent opportunity to highlight Antipodes' capabilities to OceanGate’s newest board member and ocean advocate, David de Rothschild. Mr. de Rothschild’s excitement about his dive experience was clear. “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,” he said. “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.”