Diving Equipment

NR-1

Length: 145ft (44,2m)  Beam: N/A  Height: N/A Weight: 400 tons

Payload: N/A Max. speed: 5 knots Max. depth: 3.000ft (914,4m)

  The NR-1 is a  nuclear submarine of the U.S Navy. Launched on January 25,1969 and conceived as a bottom-exploring submarine. It can remain in continuous operation for up to 30 days, hosting a crew of 11. Power is produced by two 50HP propulsion motors and 4 ducted thrusters enable the submarine to move in every direction with extreme precision.

  This submarine is ideal for underwater explorations because it has some unique features like viewing ports for external observation, exterior light sources (supporting TV cameras), an object recovery claw, a manipulator arm for various gripping and cutting tools and a basket to place objects recovered from the sea bottom.2 retractable bottoming wheels give the vessel a special crawling capability. Due to its size and  slow surface speed, the NR-1 is usually towed by its support vessel, the SSVCarolyn Chouest(a civilian ship).

 

 

Left: The NR-1 and the Carolyn Chouest. Right: The control station inside the NR-1.

 The control station of the NR-1 is very similar to a plane's cockpit and from there the crew can video monitor the sea bottom and the submarine's system status. The photo/video equipment of the NR-1 consists of  low light B/W video cameras, a color camera, a digital electronic still camera and 2 underwater 35mm still cameras. Advanced electronic equipment is also used for navigation (target location, data management, Obstacle Avoidance Sonar).

  Although NR-1 has been used for military and scientific missions over the last 30 years, it gained unexpected popularity from Dr. Ballard's expeditions to the Titanic. Dr. Ballard operates the submarine in tandem with JASON, the ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle) of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.NR-1 was used for Dr. Ballard's exploration of the Britannic in 1995 but operating with another ROV, the Voyager, which carried a 3D video camera system developed by NASA.

 

Sources:

"NR-1 within Visual Sight of the Bottom" by Lt. Doug Perry, USN (Executive Officer of NR-1) -  UNDERSEA WARFARE (Vol. 1, No4, Summer 1999)

Simon Mills -"Britannic-The Last Titan"

 

 

Deep Rover - DR1002

Length: 10,3ft (3,3m)  Beam: 7,8ft (2,5m)  Height: 10,5ft (3,5m) Weight: 5 tons

Payload: 280kg Max. speed: N/A Max. depth: 3.128ft (1000m)

  The DR1002 is a two-person mini submersible. An acrylic sphere hosts the control panel and enables the operators to have a very comfortable accommodation and an almost 360° view, something very important in underwater exploration. It's also equipped with a pair of  manipulators with audio tactile sensors. Video/photo cameras and lighting can also be added for  broadcasting high quality images from the sea bottom.

The DR1002 before a dive.

 Two of these subs were deployed for the exploration of the Britannic (during Dr. Ballard's expedition) allowing Dr. Paul Matthias to test his side-scan sonar before using it on the Titanic in order to detect the real entity of the damage caused by the collision with the iceberg. A DR1002 transported the device over Britannic's wreck.

 

Source:

DeepOcean Engineering Website

 

 

Diving Saucer (SP-350): "Denise"

Length: 9,5ft  Beam: 9,5ft  Height: 5,5ft  Weight: 3,5 tons  

Payload: 135kgMax. speed:1 knot Max. depth: 1.148ft (350m)

 

  The "diving saucer" was one of the most successful manned submersibles ever used for the exploration of the seas. It was built by Westinghouse for O.F.R.S (Office Francais de Recherches Sous-Marine) and Jacques Yves Cousteau, after a design of the French oceanographer. The first drawings were made in 1955.The first test with the pressure hull took place in 1957 but the prototype (named SP-300)  broke its ropes and sunk to 3280ft (1000m) without damage. After this loss, a second pressure hull was built (later renamed SP-350 or Denise). The first test of the SP-350 took place in 1959 and the first operational trials began in 1960. From 1959 up to 1970 the SP-350 made about 750 dives (2000 dive hours).

 The pressure hull was made of mild steel and it was 10,75 in (19 mm) thick, with a  maximum diameter of 6,5 ft and a minimum diameter of 4,9 ft. There  were three 128mm windows and a 15,75 in. hatch. The submersible could host two crew members in prone position for 4 hours (max. 24hours).The SP-350 was powered by a centrifugal water pump of 1-2 HP and a maneuvering control was taken by two  jets which could be rotated up to 270 degrees. Buoyancy control was achieved by an internal ballast tank of 55lt and a mercury trim system. The emergency features consisted of 300 lbs of releasable mercury,400 lbs of releasable emergency weight and an  inflatable conning tower. Electrical power was produced by six lead-acid batteries (105 amp/hr each).

 

Left: The diving saucer during tests at the Naval Ocean Systems Center (NOSC) of the US Navy.

     Right: An underwater shot of the SP-350.

 During the first expedition tothe Britannic in 1976, Jacques Cousteau used the SP-350 for the exploration of the debris field. There were some "special"  passengers who also took a dive with the submersible in order  to see the sunken liner:William Tantum (then president of the Titanic Historical Society), Sheila Macbeth Mitchell(a survivor who had served as a nurse on the ship) and  Mikis Theodorakis  (a famous Greek composer).

 

Sources:

Mailing list archives at www.psubs.org

Naval Ocean Systems Center (NOSC) website (left photo)

Encyclopedia Cousteau - 1983 (right foto)

 

 

Remora 2000: "Thetis"

Length: N/A  Beam: N/A  Height: N/A  Weight: N/A  

Payload: 300kgMax. speed: N/A Max. depth: 610m

 

 This twin-seat submersible was built by the French company COMEX for the Greek National Centre of Marine Research (NCMR). It is quite similar to the DR1002 with a large acrylic sphere hosting the pilot and an observer. The Remora 2000 is also described as a "sub-sea helicopter" due to the exceptional performance of her five thrusters (hosted in 450 mm diameter nozzles) and to her computer-controlled hydraulic propulsion system. The latter is an evolved electronic system which controls all the parameters of navigation and is also responsible for the energy management. The submersible has a very user-friendly piloting system, through the use of a simple joystick, which enables a single-hand control of all the important functions needed for diving. Safety features include a 105kg drop weight and two inflatable "buoyancy collars" that make the submersible unsinkable, even if the sphere is filled with water. External lighting consists of four quartz halogen searchlights and two high-power searchlights. The Remora 2000 is also fitted with a remote-controlled arm and a complex system of TV cameras and sonar:

bullet high resolution 725 kHz scanning sonar
bulletscanning profiler 
bullethigh resolution and sensitivity color video camera
bulletvery high sensitivity B/W camera
bulletrear-view color video camera for increased safety during the exploration of wrecks
bulletvideo recorder

 

Left: The research vessel Aegaeo. Right: The Thetis just before the dive to the Britannic.

 

The submersible owned by the NCMR is named Thetis and operates in tandem with the Centre's research vessel Aegaeo (778tons, 12knots). She hosts 18 scientists and 22 crew and is fitted with modern scientific equipment. The Thetis dived to the Britannic in 2001 under the command of Kostas Thoctarides, a well-known commercial diver. The observer was Giorgos Avgeropoulos , a TV-reporter from the Greek channel ALPHA. The purpose of the dive was mainly to test some new equipment installed on the submersible but Avgeropoulos found the chance to film many parts of the wreck. The footage was broadcasted  by ALPHA some days later.

 

Sources:

COMEX official website

NCMR official website