ROV IceCUBE operations
March 20, 2009
Sea temperature: 0.35°C
Air temperature: -0.4°C
The wind increased considerably today but in the lee of the iceberg, the
seas were still relatively calm, allowing sampling activities to
continue throughout the day.
During the ROV dive this afternoon, snow flurries and a cold wind
chilled the tether handlers on deck. In the biology configuration, IceCUBE’s green tether, more than 600 meters long, is managed by hand
from a reel on the deck. Tether is pulled out and rolled in continuously
throughout the dive so the team must stay outside on deck during the
entire four-hour deployment.
On deck, Kim Reisenbichler, Alana Sherman, and Ken Smith are connected
to the ship by lifelines in the “outboard” position where the side
railing is temporarily opened. Reisenbichler supervises tether
management, signaling for tether to be pulled in or out, and
communicating by radio to the bridge and control room to coordinate the
ship and ROV movements. Sherman and Smith haul the tether in and out,
attach and remove floats, and connect and detach lift lines and taglines
during deployment and recovery. This vigilance is necessary to keep the
ROV tether from getting too close to the ship’s propellers.
ROV IceCUBE is lowered into the sea on a wet, blustery day. Photo by Vivian Peng
Marine tech Jeremy Lucke leads the launch and recovery, signals the
A-frame operator, and oversees the safety of all on deck. For the
“inboard” positions, Jake Ellena, Debbie Meyer, and marine tech Mike
Lewis roll the tether wheel in and out, working together to keep it
straight on the reel and off the deck. The exercise helps warm our
bodies but by the end of the dive, our fingers and toes tingle with
cold, even with layers of liners and protective gear. Luckily tonight we
finished just in time for a hot dinner in the mess.
One advantage of our deck position is a great view of the iceberg and
birds that concentrate near it. Today we watched a chinstrap penguin
frolic near the ship and ROV tether, entertaining us as it preened and
rolled like a sea otter in the waves.
— Debbie Nail Meyer