By Kelsey Archer Barnhill
We have set sail! The iMirabilis2 cruise began at 15:30 yesterday when we departed Vigo Harbour. It was an exciting morning full of preparations and reminders for people to take their travel sickness medicines. We started off the day with a safety orientation from the ship’s Chief Mate, Pablo, and another officer, Alex. They showed us some videos which were in both Spanish and English. These videos covered emergency signals, fire safety and exit routes.
After the safety briefing we practiced what to do if an abandon ship alarm went off. We each quickly walked back to our cabins to grab the immersion suit and lifejacket which are stored on top of our wardrobes. We carried these down the stairs to our muster point which is in a hanger on the main deck. Once there, we donned the immersion suits and placed the life jackets on top. Everyone managed to get into their safety gear quite quickly and we soon felt the effects of the immersion suits. As they are used to keep you warm if you end up in the water, we were all overheating by the end of our drill!
We set sail in the afternoon and we were treated with lovely weather, calm seas, and gorgeous views. Once we were far enough offshore to no longer see any land, we spotted some common dolphins playing in the waves near the ship. Everyone was happy to have an excuse to stand out in the fresh air on deck and look for more dolphins.
Nuno, who is on board as a photographer, was able to fly his drone once we were in open water to get some pictures and video of the ship in transit. I’ve never seen a drone flown off of a ship before so it was quite exciting. His footage also turned out incredible and I hope it will be made available soon!
Video below © Kelsey Archer Barnhill / UEDIN / iMirabilis2
After dinner we started preparing for a 500 meter technical ROV dive. We were given an introduction to the ROV video annotation software ‘Ocean Floor Observation Protocol’ or as it is referred to on the ship, OFOP. This program is what we use to take notes of anything interesting during the dive as well as note down the time and location when each sample is collected. All notes are also replicated on paper to have a backup in case of any issues saving the OFOP data.
The purpose for the night’s dive was to calibrate Luso’s new inertial system to help ROV navigation and allow us to collect multibeam data directly from the ROV. Our cruise leader Pedro shared the multibeam bathymetry we had previously collected of the dive site and I got in position to take some pictures and videos of the first ROV launch. I had to wear a hard hat and steel-toed shoes to be out on the deck during operations. It was very cool to see the ROV lowered into the water at night as the light from the ROV slowly disappeared as it descended and floated further back away from the ship.
Unfortunately, we had to abort the ROV dive as there were ground faults in two of the lights, causing them to fail. If this had happened during the daytime it would have been likely that we could have continued. However, as one of the lights was a back light which is key for ROV recovery, the call was made to bring the ROV back on deck. We did not reach the bottom before aborting the dive, making it a blue water dive with plenty of marine snow to look at.
We are currently on transit to the location of the first planned scientific dive in the Azores-Biscay Rise. The plan is to start the dive early tomorrow morning around 6:00. I am so eager to help out and learn more about the ROV operations during the dive tomorrow that I’m not even bothered about an early wake-up call!
Above: The ROV Luso being launched for a moonlight test dive. Both videos © Monica Albuquerque / EMEPC / iMirabilis2