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Jul 09 - Trials

Noon Position : lat 58° 19.9' N, long 006° 00.3' W

North Minch, East of the Isle of Lewis

Air temperature @ noon today : 13.6°C

Sea temperature @ noon today : 13.1°C

The Week(s) In Brief.

Last weekend found us tied up in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis mobilising the NERC remotely operated vehicle "Isis", this Sunday afternoon sees us with the vehicle in the water continuing the series of trials that make up the present cruise. At this very moment the vehicle and its umbilical are performing their underwater impression of the space shuttle and international space station as they practice their docking and undocking manoeuvres. It is now just over two weeks since we left Leith and steamed up the east coast of Scotland on our trip to Stornoway and the start of our summer science season, but more of that later.

The Other side of the James Clark Ross

Occasionally someone who knows us has the opportunity to photograph the ship from an unusual angle, so we'd like to thank Dave and Mike for the contributions below.

JCR in Leith Docks. Click to enlarge
JCR passing the Isle of May. Click to enlarge

The James Clark Ross in Leith docks from the air. Click to enlarge

Courtesy of Dave Smith

James Clark Ross passes the Isle of May on leaving the Firth of Forth. Click to enlarge.

Courtesy of Mike Gloistein

Recovery Matters!

Some of you might be wondering why it took us over a week to travel from Edinburgh and Leith around the top of Scotland to the outer Hebrides. Well, where science is concerned nothing is ever straight forward. We initially spent a day testing some of the ships equipment before dropping the shore engineers off in Aberdeen. The task then was to collect some moorings for the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research based in Bergan. There are seven moorings to be collected as part of this programme, five on this leg and then two more later in the summer when we head for the Arctic. To assist in the collection the moorings "owner" Dr Henrik Soiland came along to help us. The aim of these moorings is to act as the underwater navigation beacons to an experiment involving free floating instruments. These instruments measure the properties of subsurface currents and send the results back by satellite. The five we collected this time were in an area between Norway and Iceland to the north of the Faeroe Islands. The mooring design is fairly simple compared to some that we have dealt with. However, they do involve several hundred metres of floating line which can make retrieval a little more tricky at times. The recipe of the day was keeping a good look out and team work, some of which can be seen below. Thanks to Peter Enderlein for the photographs.

Henrik commands the mooring to return. Click to enlarge
Heave! - Click to enlarge
Henrik 'talks' to the mooring before ordering its return. Click to enlarge.

Heave! Pulling the loose line onboard.

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Instruments start to come onboard. Click to enlarge
The last of the buoys come onboard. Click to enlarge

The instruments start to appear.

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The last buoys come onboard.

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Stornoway, Isle of Lewis.

On completion of the moorings and fishing equipment trials it was Stornoway bound. This was to complete the mobilisation of the NERC deep water remotely operated vehicle (ROV) 'Isis', which had started in Leith. Some would say it started a lot sooner, as over two years work have been involved in planning and and adapting the JCR to carry 'Isis'. These things take a lot of planning and preparation both by ship's staff, but the technical team in Cambridge when the ship spends so much of its time away from home. Once the large equipment was in position the ROV team could start connecting the electrical string to make it all work. This in turn freed the ship's staff to return to maintenance tasks. The small boats had been stuck in their stands since before the ship's return to the UK, so the work boat 'Sooty' and the rescue boat were put through their paces. It also allowed a few pictures of the local area to be taken, as can be seen below.


Boat team. Click to enlarge
JCR alongside No.3 Pier Stornoway and the local ferry Isle of Lewis. Click to enlarge.
The boating team! Calum Hunter (2 Off.) and Derek Jenkins (AB). Click to enlarge.


Lews Castle. Click to enlarge
Stornoway fishing fleet. Click to enlarge.
Harbour Resident. Click to enlarge.

Lews Castle

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Stornoway fishing fleet.

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Harbour Resident checking things out. Click to enlarge.

Although slightly overcast during the boat trials the weather during our time in the Isle of Lewis was lovely; if not quite as warm as the southern parts of the UK at this time. The extra daylight up here allowed people to get out on their bikes or go for a walk in the evenings. Whether taking a stroll through the town or exploring the grounds of Lews Castle, the castle is private, but the public are free to enjoy the grounds. These are lovely, if quite extensive, encompassing a college and an eighteen hole golf course as well as woodland trails. Note to author - take a map next time! For those of you who are interested in seeing more and to know where the author will look for a map next time you can visit the Lews Castle Grounds Website.

The NERC Remotely Operated Vehicle - Isis.

We have another week at sea training and trialing with 'Isis', so I'll leave any further descriptions to next time when we should be in Glasgow for our next cruise changeover. For the moment I'll tease you with a couple of pictures from today's deck operations. However, those of you who cannot wait there is always the Isis official website.

Isis being prepared on deck. Click to enlarge

Final Preparations.

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Ready for Launch.

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The reason for trialing Isis now is because the team are due back onboard in January 2007 for an Antarctic Cruise near Rothera research Station, when I dare say the weather will be a little cooler!

Wildlife Corner

Being stationary for long periods of time does have its advantages. Particularly when a marine food supply drifts by allowing us some great wildlife views. Such conditions occured on Friday evening as we became the centre of attention for Birds, Pilot Whales, Dolphins and one big chap which is believed to have been a fin whale. Unfortunately they kept their distance from my camera to get some decent shots, so I'll have to thank Doug Willis for the contribtions below.

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