VISIONS' 14 Expedition

Completing the construction of the Regional Scale Nodes cabled ocean observatory

For just over 12 weeks, we were out at sea on-board the R/V Thomas G. Thompson with the University of Washington (UW) for the VISIONS '14 expedition which ran from the 13th of July to October 6th, 2014. For the third year, our role was to install the secondary infrastructure of the OOI Regional Scale Nodes cabled ocean observatory with the UW Ocean Observatory Initiative (OOI) team of oceanographers and engineers. On all fronts, this expedition was a resounding success which marked the transition between RSN's construction to its operation and maintenance. As always, CSSF and its staff enjoyed the many challenges brought forward by this ambitious project.

CSSF is proud that John R. Delaney, the Director and PI for the Regional Cabled Observatory of NSF's OOI, wrote the following about the CSSF team: "I have been working with the CSSF team for several decades, and interacting with Keith Shepherd and Keith Tamburri for more than 3 decades. I have found the level of professionalism and commitment to delivery of high quality services to be exemplary. Both the leadership and the staff members of the ROPOS operations group routinely and cheerfully give more than a 100% effort at every turn. They also have a strong tradition and commitment to safety, efficiency, training that is especially gratifying to me when we have so many students with us on our off-shore research operations." We also want to acknowledge what a pleasure and privilege it has been to work with the UW OOI team and hope that this collaboration continues to strengthen in the years to come.

By the Numbers

ROPOS performance during the expedition


ROPOS availability

In 82 days at sea, ROPOS accumulated over 273 hours of unused maintenance time. During the entire expedition ROPOS was available 97.8% of the time, a remarkable claim to the vehicle's reliability.


Hours submerged

Over 91 dives, ROPOS was submerged for 650 hours during the expedition, this is just over 27 days submerged. Taking away the time it took to travel back and forth from the seafloor, 407 hours or 17 days were spent working on the seafloor.


metres of cable

During the expedition, 10 extension cables were laid with ROCLS; all were successful and every cable is operational. Over the last 2 years, CSSF installed over 38,453 metres of extension cables for RSN in 21 cable lays ranging from 500 m to 5000 m in length.


lbs of equipment

ROPOS was used to deploy and install 137 instruments on the RSN network. Over 18 junction boxes and other heavy packages were precisely positioned and oriented on the seafloor with our through-frame lift system, many others were deployed with our tool basket or belly-winch wire.

Background: The OOI RSN Project

"Launching a new era of scientific discovery and understanding of the oceans."

"The concept of a regional cabled ocean observatory--a system that would provide continuous high power and interactive real-time high-bandwidth data transfer to and from shore--began to be seriously explored by scientists at the University of Washington in the mid 1990s.

This vision carried with it solutions to some of oceanography’s most difficult challenges: how to study natural phenomena on time scales that range from seconds to decades and on spatial scales from microns to kilometers. The vision provided novel alternatives to science investigations based on limited and uncertain life spans of battery-powered instruments and on the vagaries of northeast Pacific storms that restrict ship-based expeditions to field seasons of only a few months each year.

Exciting exchanges between scientists and engineers led to a plan for a network of distributed sensors in the oceans attached to submarine fiber-optic/power cables connected to land. The fiber would provide continous power to interactive networked instrument arrays that would capture data and immediately send it to shore and onto the Internet. Such a system could encircle an entire tectonic plate and the ocean above it."

For more information, we invite you to visit the OOI RSN website: Interactive Oceans. The site contains a wealth of information on this great project as well as detailed blog entries, video highlights, and images of all of the VISIONS expeditions.

Image Credit: Interactive Oceans/UW