Dr. Edie Widder : Launch and Recovery
The primary task of getting the Eye in the Sea ready for a dive happens in the lab, where you do the programming. You also have to make sure everything is cabled up correctly. It would be terrible to send it down with a cable disconnected. Then you just get it mounted on the front of the submersible held in place by the arms. In the meantime, we get the submersible ready with all the supplies needed, the samplers used to collect the animals, that sort of thing. The launch and recovery of the Sea Link is a very impressive operation. The entire launch can be done without putting anyone in the water. The JSL is picked up off the back deck and lowered into the water by an A frame. It is then released hydraulically and then can move away from the ship to begin its dive. The most incredible part of a dive is changing air with water and having all the colors get swallowed up. It just becomes very beautiful. Then on the recovery, the ship has to maneuver so that the submersible comes up just off the starboard bow. The ship then proceeds slowly past the sub, and just when the sub passes the aft end of the starboard deck, a diver jumps in and attaches a line which is used to pull the sub around the ship. The drop lock is then lowered down, and that same diver needs to put that drop lock in place. And that is what is used to pick the submersible up, and the A frame then lowers it down and sets it onto the deck.