When the royal Norwegian Navy in August starts its search for Roald Amundsen's airplane Latham, which disappeared in the Barents Sea in 1928, the Hugin 1000 MR autonomous underwater vehicle will play a vital role.
The Royal Norwegian Navy will start the search in August 2009 based on directions given by the Norwegian Aviation Museum. They will explore an area close to Bear Island - the southernmost island of the Norwegian Svalbard archipelago, where the plane is assumed to have gone down and where local fishermen might previously have found parts of the airplane. The HUGIN 1000 MR will be an important tool which the navy will operate from their logistic vessel KNM Tyr.
"Hugin 1000 MR is the main search tool for this job. Covering 34 square nautical miles is not possible with a camera so we are very lucky to have this instrument. Hugin 1000 MR is a state-of-the-art AUV with the capacity to go down to 1000 metres and an operational speed of 4 knots. We can have this out at sea for 18 hours continually. If the plain is there, we are confident that we will find it," explained Captain Lieutenant Helge Stian Telle of the Royal Norwegian Navy.
Vice President of AUVs for Kongsberg Maritime, Mr. Bjørn Jalving is positive that Hugin 1000 MR an ideal tool in the search for Latham, given its new and advanced technological developments.
"We are proud to support this project. The Hugin 1000 AUV with the HISAS 1030 synthetic aperture sonar has a new level of resolution and range in acoustic imagery and is especially designed to find small, modern mines, efficiently searching large areas. It is therefore very well suited for finding the Latham airplane. Its advanced navigation system counters the fact that GPS does no work under water. Consequently, if the airplane is found, its position will be well known," commented Vice President AUV for Kongsberg Maritime, Bjørn Jalving.
An historical dream
75 years after Amundsen vanished on his mission to save the Italian general and aviation engineer Umberto Nobile, the Norwegian Aviation Museum decided to reinvestigate the disappearance. A search was carried out in 2004, but had to be called off due to bad weather. Since then, the Norwegian Aviation Museum has fought a battle to reopen the search for Latham, together with the Royal Norwegian Navy and Context TV, a Berlin-based production company specialising in documentaries related to scientific-historical expeditions and explorations with main emphasis on the underwater segment. Context TV has shown an interest in the project from the beginning. They have conducted extensive research on the disappearance of Latham and will document the search. When the search reopens later this year, all parties are well prepared with better equipment and personnel.
"Our historical dream is about to come true during this search for Amundsen and this is made possible thanks to Context-TV, Kongsberg Maritime and the Norwegian Navy," said Navigator Per Arvid Tellermann from the Norwegian Aviation Museum.