Gulf of Mexico 2012




“I love it when a plan...doesn’t change”

Evening on the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer.

Sunset: Evening on the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer. Click on image for larger view.


March 21

Jeremy Potter
Expedition Coordinator
NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research

Maybe I’m sleep deprived or perhaps I’m over-caffeinated by a gallon or so of thick dark coffee, but I just couldn’t resist the 80s TV show allusion.

Today was supposed to be fairly straightforward:

That should have also included time for email, meals, a 30-minute run on the treadmill, and 15 minutes outside to stare at the horizon.

Backdeck: Bobby Mohr, Tom Kok, and Jeff Williams discuss ‘the plan’ on the back deck.

Backdeck: Bobby Mohr, Tom Kok, and Jeff Williams discuss ‘the plan’ on the back deck. Click on image for larger view.


Unfortunately, it didn’t quite turn out as planned.

By 0730, we had already cancelled today's dive at our primary location on the Florida Escarpment. A combination of a two-knot surface current from the northwest and opposing wind and waves from the southeast, put too much strain on the ship's dynamic positioning (DP) system.  Since DP is required to hold the ship in a particular position during remotely operated vehicle operations, we had no choice. 

We steamed a few miles east and up onto the shelf in hopes of better conditions. When we arrived at the new location with no noticeable improvement, dive operations were called off for the day.

The Team quickly adapted and developed a plan to expand our mapping survey on the shelf. As soon as we started implementing the mapping plan, the Team – both ashore and on board - gathered the latest information about weather and oceanographic conditions. We didn’t want to lose another dive tomorrow.

Circular Ocean: Specially processed black and white image of the ocean and horizon.

Circular Ocean: Specially processed black and white image of the ocean and horizon. Click on image for larger view.


By early afternoon, we had three dive locations under consideration. At approximately 1630, after see-sawing back and forth between the options, we finalized our primary target and a contingency location if the weather didn’t cooperate again.

By 1930, we delivered the draft mapping line plan for the evening.  At 2100, we only half-jokingly discussed a back-up to the back-up dive location.

I would like to go for that run, but we’ve got to get up at 0400 to assess weather conditions and make a determination about tomorrow’s dive. If our first target doesn’t work out, we must immediately start heading for our back-up.

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