Dateline: At sea, July 5, 2012
Actual position at 1400 EDT, 16°20′ N 161°11′ W making a blistering 9.4 knots. Weather is good with a typical scattered deck of cumulus clouds at est. 1,500 feet. Seas are two to three foot swells.
The day’s business was a meeting with the Phoenix team, primary contractors, about setting up the search grid for the AUV and planning the missions. At this time they are figuring on beginning with four to six hour missions to get the feel of the environment and do micro-planning. Once the lay of the land (sea floor) is understood, they’ll go to 12 hour missions which is much more efficient. It takes the same amount of time to recover, dump, change the batteries, load the new program, and re-launch whether the mission is 2 hours or 12, so it’s a lot better to run to the end of the battery life if possible. The ship will shadow the AUV to keep track of it and make sure it’s doing what it’s supposed to do during all missions.
At this time the estimated arrival on site is about midnight July 11, but of course this is subject to change as weather, wind, sea state, and so on combine in different ways.
Because they are anticipating arriving at night, the first order of business will be to do a mapping run with the SeaBeam standing out from the island. You do not want to tangle with that reef at night (see Norwich City). Then as dawn breaks they will be able to stand in and do more runs with the SeaBeam and start setting up the AUV.