The French Oceanographic Fleet chartered the Pourquoi Pas? for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, a higher-education and research facility in the United States dedicated to the study of marine science and engineering. The ship was placed at the disposal of the institution, fully crewed by Genavir, for the purpose of undertaking the CALYPSO research cruise.
The Coherent Lagrangian Pathways from the Surface Ocean to Interior cruise (CALYPSO cruise) took place in the Alboran Sea from 27 March to 11 April 2019.
A departmental research initiative of the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the CALYPSO cruise endeavoured to observe, understand and predict the three-dimensional pathways along which the surface water of the ocean travels into the depths.
The main aim of the cruise was to discover the pathways along which the physical and biogeochemical tracers are transported vertically, because they are also transported.
On behalf of DCNS (now Naval Group), the French Oceanographic Fleet undertook a project to dock an AUV into a moving underwater docking station.
This involved adapting the AUV AsterX to carry a payload developed by DCNS to guide the submersible to a docking station fitted to the bottom of a ship. A world first, the project demonstrated the feasibility of docking an underwater drone with a moving ship. Subsequent to the validation on the simulation bench and in a dock, the project led to sea trials to demonstrate the docking concept in real conditions.
The French Oceanographic Fleet was responsible for integrating the payload, designing and deploying the special approach for the mission’s shipboard management, and analysing and mitigating the risks.
As such, the Fleet undertook the following:
The Nautilus, the research vessel of the Ocean Exploration Trust (OET, chaired by the famous explorer Bob Ballard), was fitted out with sonar scanning equipment in order to undertake standard oceanographic missions.
This equipment included a Kongsberg EM302 multibeam echo sounder (30 kHz, 1 °x1°) and a Knudsen Chirp 3260 sub-bottom profiler (3.5 & 15 kHz). The team was asked to monitor the installation, undertake the sea trials, and assess the shipboard sonar systems.
The Schmidt Ocean Institute (a US organization founded by Google) entrusted the French Oceanographic Fleet, in collaboration with New Hampshire University, with the sea trials and the performance assessment of all the acoustic sensors fitted to its deep-sea research vessel Falkor (83 m). The total cost of the project was €160,000.
The Falkor is equipped with Kongsberg EM 710 and EM 302 multibeam echo sounders, Kongsberg EA 600 and Simrad ER 60 multifrequency echo sounders, Teledyne OS75 and WH300 acoustic Doppler current profilers, a Sonardyne ultra-short baseline (USBL), a Knudsen 3260 sub-bottom profiler and a Simrad SH 90 omnidirectional sonar.
A system developed by the French Oceanographic Fleet for calibrating the echo sounders was installed and set up. The subsequent trials validated the excellent acoustic performance of the ship and its equipment. It was during these IFREMER trials that the SS Terra Nova was discovered off Greenland. Involved in polar exploration in the early twentieth century, she was the support ship on Captain Scott’s ill-fated expedition to the south pole in 1910–1913. The Terra Nova sank in 1943 off the south coast of Greenland. The IFREMER team defined and supervised the survey of the zone with a multibeam echo sounder (Kongsberg EM 71) and processed the sonar data.