VideoRay recognized today the expertise of Bob Christ of SeaTrepid, who worked with Baltimore authorities over the weekend to locate the boat roof from a water taxi that capsized in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor on March 6. Christ sent the underwater robot into icy, dark waters after multiple dive teams had ended their efforts in disappointment. The recovery efforts of the final victim were completed ten days after a storm sank the water taxi.
The Baltimore City Fire Department asked Christ to bring in the 8-pound robotic video camera, which has had other successes locating and identifying underwater targets with the help of scanning sonar.
“ The VideoRay was the right tool for this delicate operation,” said Christ. He located the boat roof in less than 20 minutes after sonar showed the object on its screen. The VideoRay then visually identified the 25-feet-long by 8-feet-wide roof, capturing video of the accident scene. This kind of delicate documentation would be impossible for divers, without disruption to the silt and muck on the harbor’s bottom.
Baltimore City Fire Department Chief William Goodwin called the discovery of the roof in the water near Fort McHenry the “most significant find of the week,” as reported by the Washington Times. Christ said the discovery of a large piece of debris from the water taxi gave searchers a focus for the rest of the operation. “The significance of finding the roof is the actual spot of a debris field,” Mr. Christ said. “That’s going to be the beginning data point where we base all of our searches.”
The Mayor of Baltimore was among the first to see the videotape captured by the VideoRay. Mayor Martin O’Malley commented that the video captured by the VideoRay “looks like TV footage.” He observed the VideoRay was a “robot as big as a small dog,” to the Baltimore Sun on March 13.
Christ first arrived on the scene on Wednesday, March 10, when he ran the sonar-equipped VideoRay in a grid over suspected areas of the harbor. Thursday night, Christ met with the diving officer from the Fire Department. Friday, they caught the image of the top of the boat at the start of the debris field. The VideoRay was lowered by hand into the water, and within minutes had positively identified the boat cover and documented it on video. Also in the harbor was Tyco’s 450-foot oceangoing ship, which was locating targets with a 20,000 pound remotely operated vehicle used in deep ocean environments.
Bob Christ, recently founded SeaTrepid Inc. of Pottstown, Pa., to work on field missions with remotely operated vehicles. Four years ago, he co-founded VideoRay in Exton, PA, which has become a multi-million dollar company.