Rocky Seas Didn’t Deter Endurance 15’s Success

In spite of rocking seas, a generator in need of repair, and a medical delay, the Coastal Endurance Array team successfully completed its mission to turn the array for the 15th time, achieving all of its science objectives.

Weather conditions in the northern Pacific were less-than-ideal for two of the three legs of the two-week expedition.  At one point, winds speeds of 25-30 knots, with accompanying waves of up to 10 feet, caused a weather delay in operations and subsequent alterations in cruise plans.

“While it was comfortable to be aboard the R/V Thomas G. Thompson even in such conditions, sea conditions were borderline for entering or exiting Newport and deploying or recovering most platforms, “explained Chief Scientist Jonathan Fram, who led the 10-member science party. “Fortunately, we had good weather during the first leg of the cruise, which gave us some leeway to address weather-related downtime and other delays during latter legs of the cruise.  We were able to switch the order of some activities, delay some deployments, and ultimately got most everything in and out of the water as planned during our time at sea.”

When seas were calm, the team was able to deploy moorings like this one. After deployment, they headed back to port with a deck full of recovered equipment.

The team successfully deployed and recovered six surface moorings, four gliders, and two profilers. They also recovered two additional profilers and an anchor from 2020.  In addition, the team conducted CTD water sampling and also conducted sampling for researchers with instruments on Endurance Array moorings.  The team succeeded in collecting fouling communities growing on buoy panels for researcher Linsey Haram of the Smithsonian Institution and organisms on devices attached to two multi-function nodes for Oklahoma State researcher Ashley Burkett.

While in the roaring sea, the team tested potential instrument replacements and new sampling strategies. They also assessed first-time implementation of technical improvements including a new solar panel frame to prevent sea lions from unplugging the panels, an underwater camera constructed with off-the-shelf replacement parts to ensure longevity and resilience, and a stretch hose from a new manufacturer with a slightly different design than previous versions.

“In spite of having to repeatedly change our plans,” adds Fram, “we were pleased to be able to meet all of the cruise objectives.  The ocean in the Pacific Northwest is too harsh for scientists to go to sea often in fall and winter, so it is important to refresh this array of autonomous platforms that will keep recording and delivering data during rough times.”