A well-oiled machine

May 13, 2015

Susan von Thun writes: Over the last 10 days, we got into a very efficient groove that required coordination of everyone onboard the Western Flyer. We conducted two ROV dives each day, collecting as many cores as we can, given the time we have on the seafloor. This means that after the morning dive, the crew and ROV pilots recover the vehicle, eat lunch, and then get ready to redeploy. The recoveries and deployments require crew and pilots to work together to do the job safely and efficiently, communicating via headsets. From captain to crane operator to pilots on deck and in the control room, everyone has to be on the same page.

Crew on deck pull up the ROV tether, removing the floats, as it approaches the moon pool.

Crew on deck pull up the ROV tether, removing the floats, as it approaches the moon pool.


ROV Pilots Knute Brekke and Bryan Touryan-Schaefer watch as the ROV comes up through the moon pool.

ROV Pilots Knute Brekke and Bryan Touryan-Schaefer watch as the ROV comes up through the moon pool.


Relief Captain George Gunther and Electronics Officer Dan Chamberlain on the bridge.

Relief Captain George Gunther and Electronics Officer Dan Chamberlain on the bridge.

When the science team gets the “go ahead” from the pilots, we quickly remove the cores from the vehicle and start to process them. Each person has found a niche to fill—from slicing, photographing, or describing the core samples, to washing all of the muddy cores and returning them to the ROV for the next dive. We have become a well-oiled machine!

Second Mate Trevor Daviscourt uses the crane to lightly land the ROV once the mool pool doors have closed.

Second Mate Trevor Daviscourt uses the crane to lightly land the ROV once the mool pool doors have closed.


The moon pool is as busy as a bee hive after recovery!

The moon pool is as busy as a bee hive after recovery!

For the science team, it’s been a great 10 days, but for the crew and pilots, it’s been three months. They are eager to go home to their families and we appreciate their hard work. It is a testament to their dedication and diligence that we have had such a productive last leg of the expedition. Though they may be tired of this ship and ready to go home, they do their jobs thoroughly and even with a smile. Thanks guys for another successful Gulf of California expedition!

A long expedition like this one is expensive and requires a huge amount of planning. Countless MBARI staff members have been working for over a year planning the logistics and science of this expedition. The discoveries made on this trip have been stunning in many ways. Our scientists will work hard to make every sample worth the effort.

This team of scientists had a successful and productive cruise and you can tell by the smiles on our faces! Clockwise from top left: Katie Maier, Lauren Shumaker, Roberto Gwiazda, Juan Carlos Herguera, Susan von Thun, Eve Lundsten, Charlie Paull, Aaron Micallef, Brian Edwards, Mary McGann, and Vanesa Papiol.

This team of scientists had a successful and productive cruise and you can tell by the smiles on our faces! Clockwise from top left: Katie Maier, Lauren Shumaker, Roberto Gwiazda, Juan Carlos Herguera, Susan von Thun, Eve Lundsten, Charlie Paull, Aaron Micallef, Brian Edwards, Mary McGann, and Vanesa Papiol.


The Western Flyer at sunset in the Gulf of California, March 2015. This photo was taken by a drone flown by Andrew McKee and Ben Erwin.

The Western Flyer at sunset in the Gulf of California, March 2015. This photo was taken by a drone flown by Andrew McKee and Ben Erwin.

—Susan von Thun