Mission 1 — Staff Training and System Checks

Mission 1 — Staff Training and System Checks

Principal Investigator: Craig Cooper, NURC/UNCW
Mission: April 19-23

This first Aquarius saturation mission for 2004 will be a combination of staff training and a “shakedown dive” for the habitat and Life Support Buoy (LSB), separated for two months this winter for buoy and mooring system refurbishment, as well as maintenance on all the topside and underwater support equipment. This major effort is carried out at least every two years, normally includes drydocking of the LSB, and culminates by mooring the LSB over the habitat, linking the systems together with the umbilical, and reinstalling and testing all the equipment that make up the complete underwater habitat system. Once all checklists and tests are performed, a short five-day saturation dive is conducted to fully test the habitat systems for the longer 10-14 day missions to follow. During these missions, hands-on training is provided in a setting that does not have the distractions of a typical science mission, with staffing made up of two senior habitat technicians and other staff “in-training.” While the center makes extensive use of manuals, there is only so much that can be learned before actual real-time experience is required. We run training missions as full saturations, but they are usually shorter duration. Full decompression is required and is an important part of the training exercise, with staff taking turns “driving the habitat” during the 16.5 hour decompression required before surfacing.

During this mission, staff will not only train on existing gas, electrical, and computer/video/electronic systems, but they will conduct outside maintenance and cleaning, work with their topside support divers to install underwater waystation umbilicals, test new telemetry and wireless networking equipment, and even conduct educational outreach sessions from the habitat. Due to extensive reconfiguration of the telemetry and networking equipment, Web cams will be unavailable during this mission.

This mission will be staffed by Dominic Landucci, Joe March, Ross Hein, James Talacek, and Craig Cooper. Topside support will be Jim Buckley, Mark Hulsbeck, Thor Dunmire, Hal Letts, Kea Foreman, Roger Garcia, and Billy Cooksey, joined by John Golden and Buddy King from the Navy’s Experimental Diving Unit in Panama City, Florida.