Dateline: Nikumaroro, 12 July 2012
Arrival at Nikumaroro
Last night at sunset I hoisted the TIGHAR banner on KOK’s starboard halyard. On the port halyard I raised the national flag of Kiribati. The swallow-tailed TIGHAR flag – technically a “burgee” – bears the old TIGHAR logo in orange on a blue background. It has flown on every TIGHAR expedition to Nikumaroro since our first trip in 1989 and is now a bit tattered. Out of respect, we only fly it now upon departures and arrivals.
11:30Z (07:30 EDT, 01:30 KOK)
KOK arrived off NW tip of Nikumaroro. Sea calm, scattered clouds, light easterly winds.
12:00Z to 17:30Z (02:00 to 07:30 KOK)
SeaBeam system collected mapping data in search box and along southern coast of atoll. Mapped all of search box except last line close to reef – to be done in daylight.
18:40 to 19:40Z (08:40 to 09:40 KOK)
Launched and ballasted AUV.
20:30Z (10:30 KOK)
SeaBeam data processed. Impressive three-dimensional maps of steep reef slope. AUV began its 4-hour initial test run.
21:15Z (11:15 KOK)
AUV test run aborted. AUV not behaving as programmed.
22:30Z (12:30 KOK)
AUV re-programmed for another test run.
23:00Z (13:00 KOK)
AUV still not working right. Keeps returning to the surface.
00:00Z (14:00 KOK)
Decision to recover AUV. Suspect problem with propulsion vectoring system. While AUV is back aboard we’ll run tests on the ROV.
By the time Ric called at 2115 EDT time the problem was diagnosed: the prop shaft was turning but the prop was not. Perfectly fixable, and while those repairs were under way they launched the ROV for tests. The ROV will be tested over the Norwich City debris field which should be extremely interesting. Our phone call had to be cut short so he could go into the cab and participate in the tests. Everyone is absorbed in problem solving and testing and there is no chatter, no idle watching of the birds; get the equipment running and get to work is the mantra.