Underwater Remotely Operated Vehicles

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National Park Service Underwater Archeologist Brings to Life the Survey of USS Arizona with 8-Pound ROV

The adventure of the tiny, swimming VideoRay robot inside the sunken USS Arizona battleship is documented in a new book by Daniel Lenihan, entitled Submerged: Adventures of America’s Most Elite Underwater Archeology Team. Among other missions of surveying, mapping, investigating, and protecting the shipwrecks and sites that constitute America’s sunken heritage, Submerged documents missions through the USS Arizona. On this mission, the tiny, remote-control VideoRay was identified as the only piece of equipment small enough to penetrate places divers dare not go while not disturbing the archeological integrity of the wreck.

Sized slightly larger than a shoe box, VideoRay sneaked through portholes, air ducts, manholes, and holes created by bomb blasts. With its video eye, the VideoRay captured incredible details of ship life and entered cabins unseen by human eyes since 1943. Bob Christ, vice president of VideoRay, was the ROV pilot for the mission. In the chapter entitled “Pearl 2001: The Adventure Continues,” Lenihan recounts an exploration with the VideoRay into the second deck:

Suddenly, while moving methodically from compartment to compartment, with its little mechanical claw full of sensors, the ROV has stopped dead, the operator seemingly paralyzed by the image clearly displayed on the monitor. It’s an ordinary enough scene on the surface but here it makes the hair stand up on my neck. The VideoRay has entered a closet, or “hanging locker,” in Navy parlance. It is sending back a signal that reconstitutes on the screen as an officer’s dress jacket, still neatly arranged on its hanger where it was placed sixty years earlier, probably on the night of December 6, 1941.

One of the world’s leading underwater archeologists, Lenihan recounts experiences from his 24 years as founder and head of the Submerged Cultural Resources Unit (SCRU) team of the National Park Service. On the mission inside the USS Arizona, Lenihan helped execute the largest mapping project ever conducted underwater. He shares his personal journey to explore and video the entire ship. In Lenihan’s presentations and book signings around the U.S., he displays a picture of two VideoRays on their way into the Arizona. During interviews, he often talks about the VideoRay as the latest interior imaging technology.

A delight for anyone interested in diving, archeology, American history, adventure, and rescue missions, this fast-paced book brings an entirely new perspective to the marvels of America’s underwater treasures.

SUBMERGED: ADVENTURES OF AMERICA’S MOST ELITE UNDERWATER ARCHEOLOGY TEAM (Newmarket Press, $25.95 hardcover, 6” x 9”, 304 pp., Pub Date: March 4, 2002).

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