During their transit to the Middle East in November and December 2014, the crew of HMAS Success assisted the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation with their global Argo program. This innovative project aims to gather up ocean data using robotic floats.
Success supported this venture by deploying 8 Argo floats at specified drop points in the Indian Ocean between Western Australia and the Gulf of Oman. The global Argo program relies on over 3000 autonomous drifting sensors from around the world routinely collecting sub-surface observations from the earth’s open ice-free oceans. Around 800 floats need to be deployed each year to maintain coverage and replace those with exhausted batteries.
The 1.5 metre profilers drift between 1 to 2 kilometres in depth once deployed. Every 10 days they descend to a depth of 2000 metres and measure water temperature and salinity as they rise back to drifting depth. They repeat this cycle for approximately 4 years, the Australian Department of Defence said.
The information collected is transmitted to satellites and relayed to data centres around the world. Argo data compliments other observations collected from ships, moored instruments and earth-observing satellites.
Success Officer of the Watch, Sub Lieutenant Rhian Campbell-McBride was involved in coordinating the Argo float drops along the transit. “It is satisfying to think that we are contributing to research for climate change, as that is a significant global concern at the current time,” she said.
Australia is a founding contributor to Argo, deploying the first 10 floats in 1999. Since then Australia has deployed over 500 floats on transits similar to this.