Tuesday 6th April

Autosub6000 returned unscathed in the small hours, having covered around 120 kilometres in its first mission. It flew at around 40 metres above the sea floor for most of the journey, but dipping down to 20 metres at times, and dealing impressively with the rugged terrain throughout. Diving deeper than 4500 metres, Autosub6000's job was to map its pre-programmed survey area in fine detail.

Watching the recovery was very impressive. When the submarine is within 25 metres of the ship, one of the Autosub team shoots a compressed air line launcher, attached to a rope, across the vehicle. The hook on the end of that rope then catches the top of the sub, attaching it to a series of recovery ropes and the gantry on the ship. The pulleys on the gantry then lift the vehicle clear of the ocean, with one tonne of water draining from it in seconds.

After its recovery, the engineers checked Autosub6000 over for any obvious damage, and found none. They also sent the data collected by the vehicle to the scientists for processing, before turning in for a well-earned night's sleep.

Refreshed and able to assess how Autosub6000 managed in the deep ocean, the team are making a few minor changes before the next mission. In particular, the camera had not performed as expected in its tests - but Steve is optimistic they can improve it for the next mission.

With its batteries now on charge, we expect Autosub6000 to be launched again within the next 36 hours.

March 2010


April 2010



Find out more about the Cayman Trough, undersea volcanoes, deep-sea vents,
and the inhabitants of the abyss.
What are we investigating?


Take a tour of our research ship and our undersea vehicles, sensors and systems for exploring the ocean floor.
What are we using?


Meet the people aboard the ship: biologists and geologists, professors and students, engineers and mariners.
Who are we?