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Major Upgrade To Scientific Equipment On RV Celtic Explorer

31st January 2015
Major Upgrade To Scientific Equipment On RV Celtic Explorer

#MarineScience - The marine research vessel Celtic Explorer is back in the water with a new suite of hydrographic and geophysical sonar systems.

According to the Marine Institute, the new instruments were installed during an extensive refit in the A&P yard in Falmouth, which began on 29 December under the supervision of P&O Maritime (Ireland) Ltd.

The main work carried out during the refit was the installation of state-of-the-art sonar systems for bathymetric mapping in deep and shallow waters, and the installation of a deepwater sub-bottom profiler.

Adjustments were also made to the hull to fit the Kongsberg EM302 multibeam system and an IXSEA Echoes sub-bottom profiler.

These systems will enhance the seabed mapping capabilities of the Celtic Explorer, with the EM302 echo sounder designed to perform mapping with high resolution and accuracy to depths of 6km. The sub-bottom profiler can operate at the same depths to examine and profile surface bedrock layers and sediments.

The vessel's drop keel has been fitted with an EM2040 multibeam system – the same as that fitted to sister vessel the Celtic Voyager last year – to carry out high resolution seabed mapping in shallower waters. The vessel's positioning and motion reference systems were also upgraded to the highest standard to allow the vessel to operate the new equipment to the required accuracy.

The two-and-a-half-yearly refit included major mechanical work such as the removal of the rudder for inspection and repair and overhaul of the stern thruster. The entire vessel was painted; cabins, laboratories and common areas were refitted; and minor repairs carried out as well as an overhaul of essential systems.

The Celtic Explorer will complete a survey in the North Sea and Baltic Sea before beginning sea trials of the new equipment in Irish waters in February. The capability of the new equipment will be tested in the deep waters off Ireland's West coast under the supervision of scientists from the Marine Institute's Advanced Mapping Services (AMS) team.

Once the new systems have been calibrated and tested, they will be used extensively this year, including on fisheries acoustic surveys where their water column capability will be used to study the aggregation morphology and vessel avoidance behaviour of pelagic fish species, as part of a new PhD study.

The new systems will also be used to map the deep Atlantic seafloor during passage to and from Canada in April-May this year, and will be key during two deepwater ROV surveys this year, one led by University College Cork studying cold water coral reefs, and another led by University College Dublin studying deepwater thermal vent sites on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

The Celtic Explorer will deliver an intensive programme of activities in 2015 with a packed schedule to 17 December.

Beyond 2015, the systems will be used extensively to map the Celtic Sea, which will provide valuable data for the sustainable development of Ireland's fisheries as well as allowing Irish scientists the opportunity to play a pivotal role in future research opportunities in the deeper waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Published in Marine Science
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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Marine Science Perhaps it is the work of the Irish research vessel RV Celtic Explorer out in the Atlantic Ocean that best highlights the essential nature of marine research, development and sustainable management, through which Ireland is developing a strong and well-deserved reputation as an emerging centre of excellence. From Wavebob Ocean energy technology to aquaculture to weather buoys and oil exploration these pages document the work of Irish marine science and how Irish scientists have secured prominent roles in many European and international marine science bodies.

 

At A Glance – Ocean Facts

  • 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by the ocean
  • The ocean is responsible for the water cycle, which affects our weather
  • The ocean absorbs 30% of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity
  • The real map of Ireland has a seabed territory ten times the size of its land area
  • The ocean is the support system of our planet.
  • Over half of the oxygen we breathe was produced in the ocean
  • The global market for seaweed is valued at approximately €5.4 billion
  • · Coral reefs are among the oldest ecosystems in the world — at 230 million years
  • 1.9 million people live within 5km of the coast in Ireland
  • Ocean waters hold nearly 20 million tons of gold. If we could mine all of the gold from the ocean, we would have enough to give every person on earth 9lbs of the precious metal!
  • Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world – Ireland is ranked 7th largest aquaculture producer in the EU
  • The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean in the world, covering 20% of the earth’s surface. Out of all the oceans, the Atlantic Ocean is the saltiest
  • The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world. It’s bigger than all the continents put together
  • Ireland is surrounded by some of the most productive fishing grounds in Europe, with Irish commercial fish landings worth around €200 million annually
  • 97% of the earth’s water is in the ocean
  • The ocean provides the greatest amount of the world’s protein consumed by humans
  • Plastic affects 700 species in the oceans from plankton to whales.
  • Only 10% of the oceans have been explored.
  • 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year, equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.
  • 12 humans have walked on the moon but only 3 humans have been to the deepest part of the ocean.

(Ref: Marine Institute)

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