It’s News Night on Mermaid Vigilance! Tour the vessel with “Captain” Joe Litchfield as Nauticos and the Eustace Earhart Discovery Expedition team search the Central Pacific for Amelia Earhart’s lost Lockheed Electra.
A group of ocean explorers has gotten underway on an expedition to the equatorial Pacific Ocean. We intend to search a wide area of ocean floor which may be the resting place of the Amelia Earhart aircraft. This discovery would end one of the world’s greatest mysteries and locate a priceless piece of aviation history.
The group is named the Eustace Earhart Discovery Expedition, and is led by stratospheric explorer Alan Eustace. Expedition management is provided by Nauticos LLC. The oceanographic systems laboratory from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, is using the REMUS 6000 autonomous underwater vehicle for the search. The not for profit SeaWord Foundation, is providing educational opportunities and outreach programs.
In addition to the advanced technology that we’ll be using in the search, Nauticos will be extending itself to schools, youth groups and aviation and ocean enthusiasts around the world who want to share in the discovery experience. I would like to invite you to follow the expedition as well. We will be contributing news, photos and videos to the Expedition Portal, where you can also sign up for future email updates.
This portal will be updated frequently and will be the best way to keep abreast of the progress of the expedition. You are welcome to check it often. You are also welcome to share this with anyone you know who might like to follow us.
We left Honolulu February 18 and expect to be at sea for 30-45 days. I hope you enjoy sailing with us.
–Dave & the Nauticos team
Today was a very productive one, beginning with a ship move at 10AM to make way on the pier for another vessel. We moved to the same spot we departed from in 2006, just across from Aloha Tower. Bill Mills filmed the event from the pier so we had a practice departure. Once we were again tied up, the Remus AUV system was tested, a chance for us to see the launching system in operation. Alan Eustace arrived in the afternoon and came aboard to meet the team. Sallie and Marika arrived in the evening, completing the education team. Dr. Pam was unfortunately delayed and won’t arrive until tomorrow. We will spend tomorrow making final preparations and having a farewell dinner.
Mobilization is progressing apace. Several more members of the party arrived today and with the major equipment on board and in place we continued outfitting spaces, collecting supplies, and trying to be sure we have not neglected anything important.
Welders are finishing metalwork to secure the WHOI vans to the aft deck. The general workspace is coming together, which will serve as a sonar analysis station, general work area, and recreation area for meetings, reading, and movie watching. Cabins are being organized and tidied. Over the next couple of days we will be thinking about stowing everything for sea.
Carpenter Jon is working on picnic tables. Spence has promised we will barbecue for the crew from time to time. I brought a supply of Old Bay seafood seasoning for that purpose.
The radio team is building antennas, as usual.
Joe is supervising rigging of the new basketball backboard & hoop we got for the ship. He insisted that the hoop be 10 feet from the deck … “Not meters, it’s feet!” he insisted!
Monday, February 13th began mobilization in Honolulu. The vessel Mermaid Vigilance, in harbor at anchor for the last few weeks, has returned to pier side. Welders have begun installing pre-fabricated fittings designed to mate to equipment that will be brought on board. The WHOI equipment, consisting of three shipping containers holding the Remus AUV, lab space, launch recovery system, and supplies, has arrived via truck to Long Beach, California, then by container ship to Honolulu, a sea voyage that took about five days. The containers will be lifted on to the ship’s deck in pre-arranged locations. Hopefully, all will fit perfectly and the gear will be bolted down.
Meanwhile, the Nauticos team will be arriving over the next few days, with Operations Manager Spence King and his assistant Joe Litchfield already in town over the weekend. There is gear to collect from the friendly folks at the nearby University of Hawaii Marine Center who allowed us to use their address. Personal gear will be brought on board and quarters organized – no Waikiki beach hotels for this crew! Workspaces will be set up for sonar analysis, communications, media lab, and general office activities for the weeks ahead. Networks, servers, and printers will be configured.
During this time, we will be getting to know the crew and working to build a team that will function smoothly over the coming expedition. We are off to a good start with Captain Flores and his crew’s hospitality that met us at our ship check visit earlier in January.
Over the next few days, the ship will be loaded with an amazing array of equipment, ranging from state-of-the-art electronics and sensors, the latest computers and custom software, to simple hand tools. Supplies will range from technically sophisticated spare parts for sensitive electronics meant to work at massive sea pressures, to the more mundane pencils, paper clips, and sticky notes. For as much as seven weeks, our ship will be our home, office, factory, and recreation center, and we have to bring everything we need to be entirely self sufficient if at all possible. With at most five weeks of operating time on station, a week lost to retrieve a broken or forgotten item from the nearest inhabited island would be a devastating setback.
If all goes according to plan, a departure dinner will be held on the evening of the 17th, and we’ll get underway on the morning of the 18th. We’ll watch the tall buildings of Honolulu sink into the horizon, then the mountains of Oahu. Then we’ll see no more sight of land for the duration.