Friday, 10 February 2012

A black day on RRS James Cook

Apologies to regular blog followers for the lack of updates over the last couple of days, but we have unfortunately been searching for one of our microstructure profilers that was deployed as part of a routine dive early yesterday. Dr John Toole, leader of the High-Resolution Profiler group on the cruise, has kindly written some words detailing our efforts to recover the profiler of the last couple of days.

On the morning of February 9, the High Resolution Profiler (HRP) was deployed on a 975-m deep dive atop the North Scotia Ridge in conjunction with CTD station number 12.  Everything about the pre-dive set up and deployment of the HRP were normal, and during the dive we received acoustic pings from the instrument consistent with a typical dive.  However, at the expected surfacing time, no radio beacon signal was detected from the HRP nor was there a visual sighting.  Winds were 25-30 knots with accompanying seas and whitecapping, making the sighting of a relatively small floating object in a big ocean rather difficult.  We occupied an initial search grid pattern immediately after realizing the instrument was overdue, and then again that night when it was hoped that the HRP strobe light would provide a greater range of visibility.  In both cases, there was no joy.  HRP is missing and presumed lost.  We will carry on now with the Rockland VMP profilers from both groups.

This is obviously a big setback for many people on the cruise who have been closely involved with the HRP project for a number of years. However, we are all determined to continue our important microstructure survey with the two remaining profilers.

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