February 10, 2017

Follow DTA scientist Paul Garnham on HMNZS Otago in the Southern Ocean

DTA scientist Paul Garnham is on board the Royal New Zealand Navy’s offshore patrol vessel HMNZS Otago as part of the team that has successfully launched a moored wave buoy in the Southern Ocean about 10 miles south of Campbell Island / Motu Ihupuku.Paul Garnham from DTA on Campbell Island

Paul has been sending back regular updates about the activities on board and links showing the team’s location.

The arrival back in Bluff was a lot calmer than some of the seas we came across on the homewards trip.

HMNZS Otago escorted into Bluff by Te Matua photo courtesy of Chris Howell

HMNZS Otago escorted into Bluff by Te Matua photo courtesy of Chris Howell

Paul’s location at 13.08 February 16, 2017.

See the ship’s location as at 20:06 on February 15, 2017.

Day 10 – 16 Feb 2017

Today a party of three, Kevin Alder (Metservice), Peter McCombs (MetOcean), and myself embarked on a survey of the northern side of Perseverance Harbour for possible ISR sites.  The morning started at 0830 with a RHIB ride down to the entrance to retrieve Peter’s underwater pressure sensors.  We were then dropped off ashore and climbed to the top of the ridge line near a feature known as Moubray Castle which is at about 200m elevation.  We then continued along the ridge line towards the west until we reached Mt Lyall (400+m) before dropping off the ridge and back to the jetty arriving 1530.  Needless to say I’m totally knackered tonight!  But we got a good appreciation and photos of a number of potential sites along the way.

The end of the trek was notably for a close encounter with a seal and her pup, which involved having to leg it and scramble on our hands and knees through the under growth to get away.  Then more time on our hands and knees trying to find the track again…

Very glad of a hot shower and meal tonight.

Plan for tomorrow is to run one more SATCOM test then help pack up and stow everything and try and depart by 1600 – apparently there is bit of nasty weather between us and Bluff, so the CO is keen to get underway.

Day 9 – 15 Feb 2017

Last night the ship started dragging anchor so there was a rush to get the anchor up and the ship underway again. This meant another night at sea which also incuded two ‘safeguard’ (emergency) incidents. One for a fire alarm (burnt popcorn – much laughter from the cabins when that was announced over the main broadcast) and the other for an engine fault.

Once back in Perserverance Harbour it was another routine day; ashore at 0800, conducted some network testing and then spent the rest of the day assisting MetService and DOC. Peter McComb from MetOcean braved the weather and the seals and went for a quick swim!

It was great to get confirmation that the Scripp’s buoys are working and sending data back home.

The wind is still up tonight so there is a chance we may have to head back out, but let’s hope not.

Looking down on Perserverence Harbour

Looking down on Perserverence Harbour

Tomorrow’s plan is to retrieve MetOcean’s pressure sensors, then be dropped ashore to climb up to a feature above Perserverence Harbour to survey it for a posible ISR site.

It is confirmed we are leaving Friday evening with an expected ETA of 1000 Sunday morning in Bluff. Apparently the weather forecast is pretty horrendous for the trip home.

Day 8 – 14 Feb 2017

Today was a fairly routine day. Went ashore by Zodiac at 0800. Network testing at tne MetService site, then helping MetService with some of their tasks. More network testing, more jobs, followed by one last network tet, and back to Otago at 1600.

Network testing today has given even more variable results and we cannot see any pattern so it is frustrating.

Expect to repeat our efforts tomorrow.

Day 7 – 13 Feb 2017

This  morning, after the night at sea making fresh water, we came back into Perserverance Harbour to drop off the MetService, DOC and Navy personnel and then headed back to sea to continue making fresh water,  locate the wave buoy and deploy the Scripps disposable buoys. To see the latest location click on the following link and then scroll out.

Location at 1300 today.

At about 1200 NZDT the wave buoy was located where it was expected to be and some imagery taken. Two of the Scripps miniature wave buoys were successfully deployed before we headed further south and deployed two more.

This evening we are back at Perserverance Harbour after picking up the shore parties.

If you would like to know more about the development of the Scripps’  buoys and their use see the article entitled Development, Testing, and Quality Control of the Scripps Miniature Wave Buoy on the JCOMM site.

Day 6 – 12 Feb 2017

Another hike today as a cruise ship was due in (but never turned up) and DOC wanted everyone out of sight. A number of us, DOC staff, MetService staff, Navy personnel, Peter McComb and myself headed off for Northeast Bay. The hike started from Tucker Cove then went up and down dale, along the ridge line looking down to Northeast Bay and then down to Homestead Bay (home to one of the World’s loneliest trees) then a boat ride back to the ship.

Paul testing the SATCOM

Paul testing the Satcom signal

I took the chance to test the Iridium network and it was reliable the entire route. I also took plenty of photos of the landscape and headlands which may be useful for any future work.

We had more wildlife encounters today. Our hiking group had to pass a large harem of seals to get to the track and the seals were not too happy about it. Once on the track it turned out there were many more seals in the low scrub at each side of the track. There were a few tense moments with grumpy seals having a go at us from very close quarters. Not something I’m keen to repeat.

Seals appearing where you'd least expect them

Seals appearing where you’d least expect them

Tonight Otago is back at sea to make fresh water. The miniature buoys from Scripps  (Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego) have been lashed to the back of the flight deck so that Scripps can turn them on. It is hoped to deploy them at 1200-1400 NZDT tomorrow.

Royal New Zealand Navy RHIB transfer in Perserverance Harbour

Royal New Zealand Navy RHIB transfer in Perserverance Harbour

Day 5 -11 Feb 2017

Went ashore with Peter McComb from MetOcean and walked the tourist boardwalk up to the ridge line to select a site for testing the SATCOM connection. Thinking that a clear view of the sky and no obstruction from hills or ridges would give us a good signal. Unfortunately the results were the worst we have had so far.

Walked back down and repeated the tests at the MetService site and the SATCOM performed brilliantly.A curious albatross watching Paul

Had some notable wildlife encounters. A male sea lion was relaxing right next to the DOC huts, fortunately he took no interest when we quietly walked by. Then while performing our tests up on the ridge line an albatross waddled out of the tussock right past us and only an arm’s length away. The albatross loafed around before taking off right in front of us, quite extraordinary.

Day 4 – 10 Feb 2017

Went ashore this morning to conduct SATCOM tests from the MetService weather station near Tucker Cove. This afternoon assisted Peter McCoomb from MetOcean to place three pressure sensors underwater at the entrance of Perserverance Harbour to measure ocean swells. This involved a very fast and wet RHIB ride from Otago to the entrance and back.

The aim is to also deploy 5 free floating buoys which will be used to transmit data on wave heights short term. This is dependant on the weather and MetOcean Solutions has been keeping DTA up to date with the weather the team can expect to face.

MetOcean Forecastsowrb20170213_0145z

Day 3 – Thursday 9 Feb 2017

Focus has been on getting Department of Conservation (DOC) and MetService personnel and their equipment ashore. Conucted some network testing from the ship and proved that INMARSAT SATCOM connectivity is possible although unable to capture consistent network metrics due to the ship swinging on its mooring.

Day 2 – Wednesday 8 Feb 2017

Arrived eastern side of Campbell Island mid afternoon and headed to the buoy deployment area. Otago conducted a depth survey to establish a suitable mooring site. Successfully deployed the moored buoy early evening. Headed to Perserverance Bay to anchor.

DTA moored wave buoy successfully deployed from HMNZS Otago in the Southern Ocean

DTA moored wave buoy successfully deployed from HMNZS Otago

Day 1 – Tuesday 7 Feb 2017

HMNZS Otago departed Dunedin at 1000. Once outside the harbour man overboard drills were held, the harbour pilot disembarked, and a private family service and spreading of ashes from the stern of Otago was conducted. Late afternoon began transit to Campbell Island.