Not everything on a research vessel always goes according to plan. Today we awoke to find out that during the night the primary CTD winch failed, leaving about 2000 meters of cable and a large instrument package over the side. Alvin cannot dive when we have a wire in the water, so this situation is going to delay today’s launch, and we may even need to scrap it altogether. Hopefully this won’t happen.
At night while Alvin is sleeping we use the CTD, which measures things like temperature, pressure and turbidity, to map the extent and intensity of hydrothermal venting above the ridge. Since Alvin can only dive during daylight hours, this is an excellent way to use the ship’s resources while we wait for the dawn. On rare occasions though there is an issue with the winch that can cause a delay.
Crew members from the engine room, the deck crew, mates, and the captain have been working through the night to move the spool from the faulty winch to a backup winch on the aft deck of the 02 level. These wire spools weigh many thousands of pounds, and it takes an extremely competent and experienced crew to change them out while the ship is rolling at sea. Thankfully, that is what we have on this ship. The crew is doing their best and doing it as fast as safely possible. Hopefully within another hour or two we’ll be winding in the CTD and preparing for a belated dive in the sub.