Gulf Island finalized its contract with its Overside Handling System Single Source Vendor this week. Rapp Marine will be providing us with our stern A-Frame, portable side frame, Launch and Recovery System (LARS), main crane, traction winch, hydro-winch, and what is now a portable winch. Also provided will be the tension members (i.e. ropes, wires, and lines), the integrated controls, and the chest packs to control all this gear. If you watch our little promotional video, we have a notional sketch of a number of these things.
Here’s an artist’s rendition of the LARS with a CTD dangling from it, on an enviable calm day. We’ll see how close Rapp’s version comes to this guess.
Suffice it to say, this is an extremely important contract as this gear goes a long way to making our ship a “research ship” and not just an offshore supply vessel. Rapp has a lot of recent experience providing these types of systems to research ships around the world including R/V Sikuliaq (NSF’s most recent ship) and R/V Reuben Lasker (NOAA’s most recent ship).
There is a lot behind the overside handling systems that you might not think about. In fact UNOLS has an entire appendix to its Research Vessel Safety Standards (known colloquially only as “App A”) dedicated just to how to safely use and maintain wire rope. Many other overside handling system considerations will challenge Rapp and our engineers even insofar as the ship’s ability to stay upright is concerned. I suspect I’ll try to delve into detail on some of these challenges in a future post, or if we’re lucky, we’ll have guest post by someone who knows a lot more about it than I do.
In addition to traditional wire rope, RCRV will be able to accommodate a range of synthetic lines. This will actually be a relatively new capability for a research ship in the United States. Although research ships around the world, and in Europe in particular, have used synthetic lines for years, the U.S. research fleet has been slow to adopt. Rapp has had much experience in delivering systems with this capability so I know we’re in good hands.
There are a number of advantages to using synthetic lines rather than traditional wire rope, chief among them is strength to weight. Synthetic lines are basically neutrally buoyant whereas wire rope can weigh thousands of kilograms when in the water and deployed out thousands of meters. This can be a really big deal to scientists, particularly when grabbing sediment cores.
So Gulf Island is getting pretty close to having its team together. Only two more SSV’s to announce, the Integrated Bridge System (everything we need to drive and navigate the ships) and the Integrated Acoustic System (what we need to map the ocean floor). Hopefully we’ll be able to announce those soon. In the meantime, thanks for checking in. If you have any questions about our Overside Handling System plan, feel free to drop a comment / question below.