Next to the Titanic, there is no more iconic shipwreck in the world than the Endurance, or a more tantalizing quest for deep sea explorers. With the leadership of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and a team of international experts and blue-ribbon media partners, the In Search of the Endurance Expedition will make the first historic attempt to locate and film the Endurance wreck where it sank in Antarctica’s Weddell Sea.
The ship is known to have settled at a depth of about ten thousand feet below the sea (2,000 feet shallower than the Titanic wreck) at 68 degrees 39.5 south and 52 degrees 26.5 west, about 1,100 miles south of Cape Horn. Modern sonar and magnetic sensors are able to identify the ships’ exact location, but at least six feet of pack ice and volatile weather present challenges. Woods Hole leads the field in filming-capable ROVs and AUVs.
Hybrid Remotely Operated Vehicle Nereus:
Exploring the oceans’ deepest depths
Scientists and engineers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution have built a new efficient, multi-purpose “hybrid” vehicle that can explore and operate in the crushing pressures of the greatest ocean depths.
On its first mission, the new vehicle, called Nereus (rhymes with “serious”), explored the deepest part of the ocean, Challenger Deep—a nearly 7-mile-deep trench east of the Marianas Islands in the western Pacific. The trench extends farther below the sea surface than Mount Everest reaches into the sky. Nereus could also be used under ice-capped polar waters.
Nereus, an unmanned vehicle, operates in two complementary modes as a hybrid ROV. It can swim freely as an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) to survey large areas of the depths, map the seafloor, and give scientists a broad overview. When Nereus locates something interesting, the vehicle’s support team can bring the vehicle back on board the ship and transforms it into a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) tethered to the ship via a micro-thin, fiber-optic cable. Through this tether, Nereus can transmit high-quality, real-time video images and receive commands from skilled pilots on the ship to collect samples or conduct experiments with a manipulator arm.