Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

ALTEX Arctic Cruise
October 7 - November 7, 2001
Tromso, Norway to the Arctic Circle
Crew

Click on any name to read an interview:
Douglas Andersen (SSI), Armen Bahlavouni (SSI), James Bellingham, Michael Birmann (SSI)
Ned Cokelet (PMEL), Drew Gashler, Rich Henthorn, Bill Kirkwood, Rob McEwen, DJ Osborne
Mike Pinto, Farley Shane, Mark Sibenac, Mark Talkovic, Hans Thomas, Todd Walsh, Amy West

Essential and important partners include SSI (Scientific Solutions Incorporated), Fuel Cell Technologies Limited, Pacific Marine Environmental Lab, Office of Naval Research, National Science Foundation, and the United States Coast Guard.

James Bellingham
Director of Engineering
www.mbari.org/staff/jgb


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Drew Gashler
Associate Engineer

What is your role on this cruise?
I am one of the engineers responsible for maintaining and operating the ALTEX autonomous underwater vehicle. I will be part of the team that helps to keep the vehicle running, and makes certain that the data that comes back from the vehicle is that which is needed to answer the questions that we are asking about the vehicle's performance in arctic conditions. My secondary goal is to see a polar bear.

What are your primary goals?
My primary goals are to help build an oceanographic research vehicle that can gather top notch science data anywhere in the world at any time. By attempting to gather ice thickness and water quality data in the Arctic ocean during the autumn my goal is to find out in what ways the existing system can be improved.

What do you expect to find?
I expect to find that our vehicle is in some ways very very good and in some ways not quite so good.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
My favorite part of a research cruise is going to new places, seeing new things, and helping to make oceanographic instruments work in the ocean.
My least favorite part is unpacking at the end of the cruise...

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
I decided to become an engineer after having been a high school science teacher. As a teacher I learned that the things that I liked to do and that were exciting to me were not happening inside classrooms. I decided to go back to school myself at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, where I was able to help make measurements of the ocean. After having gained experience with oceanographic instrumentation I was hired by MBARI to do the same thing, and later became involved with our effort to build a vehicle that would enable scientists to make other kinds of measurements.

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Rich Henthorn
Software Engineer
www.mbari.org/staff/henthorn

What is your role on this cruise?
My role on this cruise is to provide software support for the AUV, concentrating on the onboard scientific instruments.

What are your primary goals?

  • Providing reliable science data from all onboard instruments
  • Improving the software interfaces to the science instruments
  • Learning about and improving other aspects of the AUV software system
  • Learning as much about the operation of the vehicle as possible
  • Bringing the team and vehicle home relatively intact
  • Learning some new skills
  • Enjoying the experience and keeping things interesting

What do you expect to find?
I expect to find a rather hostile environment in which to conduct AUV operations. I expect to find every mistake magnified. I expect to make a fair amount of modifications to the AUV software to make operations smoother and data acquisition more reliable. I also expect to see a high level of teamwork developed on the cruise, with the team become pretty tight.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
My favorite part of a cruise is the opportunity to participate in something very special and unusual. My least favorite is being away from family and friends, especially during these uncertain times. Missing post-season basebal

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
I went to college not sure what I wanted to study. I liked the science and engineering subjects the most because that is where I had the most success. Also, I grew to enjoy the competitive nature of the engineering school. Before too long, I had enough credits to graduate with an engineering degree.

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Bill Kirkwood
Associate Director of Engineering
www.mbari.org/staff/kiwi

What is your role on this cruise?
Program manager, working with Principal Investigator to direct activities during testing and address project issues as they arise.

What are your primary goals?
The foremost goal of the cruise is to prove the ALTEX configuration of the new autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) design will function properly in the cold waters of the arctic. In addition, to prove the sub-systems, such as navigation and the ice penetrating buoys, work in the high-latitudes and extreme environment required for the ALTEX mission. Once the vehicle is proven to meet the design criteria the next portion of the primary goal is to prove the science equipment works properly. This is accomplished by running a series of smaller missions in a variety of conditions, imitating the various run modes expected in the full ALTEX mission coming up in spring of 2003. A secondary mission is to test the AUV as an ice measurement platform. This will be accomplished by collecting data through a purpose built Ice Profiling Sonar (IPS) and comparing the results to previous work by other systems such as the U.S. Navy’s results when executing the SCICEX experiments.

What do you expect to find?
I expect the vehicle to be fully proven out as operational and fully capable of meeting the final ALTEX mission needs. I also expect to set the program directions for navigation by collecting data from the three navigation options we are testing at high latitudes. Another find expected is the new AUV design will prove to be suitable as a science instrument and ice-profiling platform.

I also expect to find out things we haven’t considered yet, things that will effect our designs and decisions as we complete the ALTEX configured AUV and get ready to return in spring of 2003.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
The opportunity to do something that few people get to do. Getting to see the new AUV design accomplish the goals it was built for in an extreme environment and the knowledge that the team efforts have met the goals set forth a few years back. I’m looking forward to being back on a cruise with all the unknowns ahead that make it unique.

Least favorite part of the Cruise: Being away from my family for 7 weeks. Luckily I can send and receive some messages with today’s.

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
My uncle influenced me, he was an electronics engineer. He sparked an interest by getting me started with a crystal radio set when I was very young and telling me about the types of things he worked on. The how was straightforward, I kept my grades up and scored well on college entrance exams. I decided on UCLA because it was a highly ranked school in engineering at a very reasonable price for California residents.

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Rob McEwen
Controls Systems Engineer
www.mbari.org/staff/rob


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DJ Osborne
AUV pilot/technician
www.mbari.org/staff/djo

What is your role on this cruise?
My role on this cruise is to configure, maintain, operate and fly the ALTEX Autonomous Underwater Vehicle. These duties consist of preparing the vehicle for each day of operation, running the vehicle's missions during the day, assisting with the tasks of deployment and recovery and turning the vehicle around for the next days operation.My role on this cruise is to configure, maintain, operate and fly the ALTEX Autonomous Underwater Vehicle. These duties consist of preparing the vehicle for each day of operation, running the vehicle's missions during the day, assisting with the tasks of deployment and recovery and turning the vehicle around for the next days operation.

What are your primary goals?
Our primary goal is for the safety of all my teammates and all members of the Healey Crew. Our second goal is for the safe operation, deployment and recovery of our AUV. The third goal is to acquire the science and engineering data for each mission as accurately and efficiently as possible. Additionally, our underlying goal is to have fun, learn as much as we can and bring back lots of unique and interesting results.

What do you expect to find?
I believe the cold water and ice coverage will effect some AUV systems in ways that we have not yet predicted. I believe the cold weather and ice will effect some members of the crew in ways they have not yet experienced. This particular expedition has many first for all of us and we are all excited to learn as much as we can to further the ALTEX vehicle. We will discover some additional issues with our design that we do not like and we will discover some details that we do like for arctic operations. 

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
My least favorite part of a research cruise is being away from my girlfriend, my two dogs, Jesse and Bruno, my friends and from the other fun things we like to do while on land.

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
Early on fascination with taking things apart, putting them back together and figuring out how they work. How did you become one? More years of school than I care to remember - but hang in there it is well worth it.

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Mike Pinto
Comptroller/CFO

What is your role on this cruise?
My primary role will be to provide daily cruise updates to the MBARI website during the duration of the cruise. I will also be part of a team gathering CTD data.

What are your primary goals?
I hope to give readers a non-technical view of the activities required to test new technologies in an extremely harsh environment. These technologies have the potential to revolutionize data gathering opportunities in the ocean environment.

What do you expect to find?
Other than cold, and I mean cold!!!, weather conditions, I expect to observe and assist a group of dedicated engineers and technicians doing "whatever it takes" to ensure a successful test of the technology we will be demonstrating under the Arctic ice.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
Since this will be my first extended research cruise, you will have to check back later for an update. At this point my guess is that the favorite part of the cruise will be seeing the fruits of success (hopefully) after months of hard work by many people preparing for this cruise. The least favorite parts will be being away from my family for the longest period in my life (and maybe the opportunity to be seasick).

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
Well I guess you can tell from my title that I’m not a technical person. While my undergraduate degree was in biology, my career has been in accounting since soon after graduation. I was the Vice President of Finance for the Monterey Bay Aquarium for 16 years prior to joining MBARI in March of 1999. I have always felt extremely fortunate to be a small part of organizations that are helping the ocean’s environment in a meaningful way and that have allowed me to be associated with highly talented individuals.

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Farley Shane
Mechanical Engineer

What is your role on this cruise?
I am primarily responsible for support and maintenance of the AUV propulsion section. I will also work with the group doing CTD casts, and will support AUV launch and recovery operations.

What are your primary goals?
A goal presumes a conclusion. If it is a goal we are pursuing, it is to return safely WITH an intact AUV. If we are discussing my OBJECTIVES, there are several. Foremost among these is to play a cooperative and active role as part of the AUV team. I will also work to ensure that all mechanical components of the AUV function properly. Additionally, I will observe and document any operational issues and use these for future evaluation toward vehicle improvement. 

What do you expect to find?
This cruise will affirm that the time and effort we have invested in the design of this AUV has resulted in a robust operational vehicle. 

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
My favorite part of the cruise will be the new experiences in an area of our planet that I have never been. The least favorite will be the isolation from my family (and Peanut, our mini-dachshund....who could fit very easily into my duffel bag...........).

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
A question that I may be asking myself near the END of the cruise! I have always been interested in science and how things worked. When I was 14 I wrote a letter to Dr. Werner Von Braun regarding the Surveyor spacecraft that were going to map the moon. He arranged for me to tour Hughes Aircraft who were assembling the spacecraft. He also sent me a personal letter encouraging me to pursue engineering. As I finished high school I was soon "encouraged" by the Selective Service to join the Army or another service. After serving 4 years in the Air Force as a "spy" (cryptanalyst) with the National Security Agency, I started my engineering studies at the California State University at Long Beach. After graduating I was employed by Global Marine Development in their R&D division (the same division that did the "spy ship" Glomar Explorer), Eastport International (I worked for 3 months on the Space Shuttle Challenger debris recovery), MCA and Associates, and MBARI. An interesting path of experiences that continues even now...

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Mark Sibenac
Electrical Engineer

What is your role on this cruise?
Lead EE and AUV pilot.

What are your primary goals?
To test all subsystems of AUV (navigation, motion control, depth sensing, etc.) in Arctic ice conditions.

What do you expect to find?
I expect to find logistical hardships with operating in Arctic conditions (no sunlight, high winds, cold temps, polar bears, etc.). I want to see how the high latitudes affect the compasses and inertial navigation sensors.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
Being away from my friends. Favorite part is being able to see the extreme regions of the earth.

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
I became an engineer so I could build autonomous robots. At MBARI I work on the AUVs. At other research facilities, I worked on planetary rovers. Maybe in the future I will get into aerial vehicles. Being a student at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA, brought me together with other interested students and professors in building robots. I spent about 7 years there working on various projects and received a BS and an MS in Electrical and Computer Engineering.

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Mark Talkovic
ROV pilot/technician
www.mbari.org/staff/talkovic

What is your role on this cruise?
ROV Pilot for potential emergency recovery of the AUV should it surface beneath the sea ice. Provide high latitude experience in support of ice operations off of the research ice breaker Healy.

What are your primary goals?
Keep all my fingers and toes and help assure that others in the science party do the same.

What do you expect to find?
With any luck... Polar bears, Belugas, Walrus, Narwhals and the Aurora Borealis.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
The awesome isolation and beauty of working in one of the harshest and most remote areas on the globe.

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
I have always been fascinated by the ocean. After finishing my degree in Marine Biology, I worked on a wide variety of research projects, most which were either shipboard or in remote field locations.

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Todd Walsh
Audio Visual Technician and Videographer
www.mbari.org/staff/todd

What is your role on this cruise?
Video and photographic documentation of the expedition.

What are your primary goals?
To tell the story of the cruise in still and moving images.

What do you expect to find?
Challenging operating environment. Ice.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
It's my first cruise!

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
Gained technical skills w/electronics by working with production of live music. Received specialized training in video camera operations while at MBARI. Still photography has been a long-time hobby of mine, and lowered the learning curve for me in the area of video production

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Amy West
Intern

What is your role on this cruise?
Interface with AUV group to download science data from vehicle; Interface with Ned Cokelet to deliver raw and 'processed' data to him; for further study; Support collection, storage, processing of samples collected by CTD rosette on ship; Support CTD casts and follow-up data storage and logging; Collect and properly store nutrient samples; Collect and process dissolved oxygen samples; Collect and process salinity samples; Oversee CTD casts/logging; Process AUV science data ; Pre-process CTD cast data; Archive data
Pre-cruise: Learn how Matlab processing code works; Learn how to generate data streams

What are your primary goals?
To successfully do oxygen titrations and NOT break any glassware. I would like to also become very familiar with AUV operations. If I can keep the CTD and AUV science data organized in a way that is clear- then I will have attained some much needed organizational skills. I would most love to be part of the paper that is going to be published on the science. Most importantly I just want to gain some real insight into an operation of this magnitude- tips on what it involves and how it should be carried out. I would love a chance to go out on the ice- especially if a vehicle recovery is required. Depending on how I deal with the cold, I may prefer to ride in the helicopter when it does a flyover. Mainly I want to enjoy every minute of this opportunity

What do you expect to find?
A narwhal, a polar bear, and some very cold and dark days. no really- maybe a real change in where the ice usually is. Since I am not looking for something specific per say- I think that the data we get, will show slight changes in salinity from previous years. I say that only because if the seas are warming up, and there is less ice- there will be less freshwater trapped in the ice therefore decreasing the salinity

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
LEAST FAVORITE: Most likely the three am grueling wake-ups to start the CTD casts. I think being off my sleep schedule and eating schedule is the hardest part. If the research vessel has no means for exercise, then although running laps around the captain might be frowned on, I think it helps from going stir-crazy. When it is really rough- it makes it hard to stand up in the shower.:)

FAVORITE PART: The fact that I am in the middle of the ocean, with only some steel (wood or fiberglass) between me and hundreds of meters of water. It is humbling and exciting. I also enjoy the exposure to the different jobs aboard the ship- be it science, engineer or operations related. Opportunities arise to be part of something that I would not normally get the chance to see or do. And of course there is always the possibility of seeing some large or rare creature in the water....

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
It involves adventure and exploration. Marine science is a realm that is mostly under-researched when compared to other science fields. It is the only thing that has enough mystery for me. It normally involves field work which means one is not always tied to the computer or office cubicle. It involves much variety since the work conditions change with the seasons and from year to year- so there is nothing predictable about it!! I became one by a lot of hard work and dedication to one field of study- although within that field I have tried to gain experience in all its facets. It also took being in the right place at the right time, and being persistent in following exactly what I wanted to do. In this case for the Arctic cruise, I am gaining skills in a specific area, while exploring a very unique environment. Learning and traveling go hand in hand with this field. What more could you ask for??

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