ROVworld Subsea Information

SeaBotix LBV aids in WWI & WWII submarine research
Date: Tuesday, September 15, 2009 @ 14:00:00 EDT

SeaBotix LBV aids in WWI & WWII submarine researchWith the discovery of sunken wrecks comes the discovery of untold stories. Over the past few years there have been a few important Australian historical wrecks found. Use of capable MiniROVs has aided in researching the wrecks and collecting valuable data.

In 1998 one of only two WW1 Australian submarines was found off the coast of Turkey. The AE2 submarine was sunk in 1915 during WWI after successfully penetrating the Dardanelles straits and torpedoing the Turkish gunboat Peyk I Sevket. Sustaining damage from the attack the AE2 returned to sea where it's periscope was sighted. In an attempt to evade the AE2 made a rapid decent, however, mechanical problems saw the submarine surface and immediately fired upon. The crew of AE2 abandoned the submarine and were captured.

2007 saw the return of an archeological survey of the wreck to determine the condition of the submarine and its future. Lying in 75 meters of water the survey was conducted by a team of technical divers and a SeaBotix LBV. The divers were able to provide valuable insight into the condition of AE2 using video and NDT sensors. Due to the deeper depth the use of the LBV MiniROV augmented the investigation. Fitted with a Cygnus Ultrasonic Thickness Gauge and fiber optic video the LBV was able to record important metal thickness readings and crystal clear video. Surprisingly the LBV thickness data was more accurate than the diver hand held data due to the stable nature of the ROV.

A well made documentary was produced by the ABC in Australia and Australian Geographic depicting the life of the AE2 as well as the research conducted. Future expeditions to the AE2 are in the planning stages and it is expected that the submarine will not be raised.

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During WWII attacks on Sydney Harbor saw the infiltration of the Japanese Midget Submarines. Small two person submarines that could travel relatively undetected. Of the three midget submarines to invade Sydney Harbor two were destroyed almost immediately and the third that torpedoed the HMAS Kuttabul was not found until 2006.

Located outside Sydney Harbor the midget submarine rests in 54 meters of water. Since the discovery in 2006 by a local dive club there have been a few archeological surveys conducted. The two most recent surveys were done using the SeaBotix LBV. In the first instance the NSW Heritage Department, NSW Police Divers and SeaBotix surveyed the wreckage for clues on how the submarine sunk. There is a large rope (long line) wrapped around the aft section of the submarine as well as a dense cluster of fishing nets around the forward portion of the submarine.

Just this past May, 2009 a further survey was conducted in conjunction with the Australian Navy CDT. The purpose in the survey was to determine the feasibility of releasing the fishing nets caught on the submarine. Using the LBV with a cutting attachment it was found that the net was too dense and that there are few options for cutting away the nets.

Several hours were spent on site capturing video footage of the submarine for later examination. Using the LBV it was possible to get in tight areas for close up shots of the conning tower, props, battery compartment, cutting tool, bulkhead and the hatch. The wreck has become a home to thousands of fish. Since the LBV doesn't create bubbles the fish are comfortable and at times it was hard to see the wreck for the number of fish.

Following the surveys NSW Heritage's Tim Smith commented "We loved the opportunity to work with SeaBotix in this nationally important survey", "their expertise on site was invaluable. This most recent survey has given us the best footage of the wreck to date."

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