It has been a whirlwind of a year for ROV SuBastian.

The new in-house built ROV was completed in early April for its first in-water testing at Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) tank testing facility.

A formal naming announcement and press event were held with co-founder Wendy Schmidt and select media. “This is an important next step for Schmidt Ocean Institute in terms of what we can offer the world’s leading scientists aboard our research vessel Falkor,” said Wendy Schmidt. “Being able to collect scientific observations and data with our own ROV will help us better understand rarely observed oceanic processes and phenomena.”

The ROV engineering team designed the vehicle with the needs of the oceanographic community in mind. Engineers worked closely with an international group of scientific advisors including experts in marine biology, geology, ecology, and other fields to develop the vehicle design and operational requirements. As a result of this process, all major vehicle subsystems were procured to ensure the best overall vehicle performance. The ROV’s imaging system includes state-of-the-art science cameras, capable of capturing both 4K ultra high definition video and 20 megapixel still images. The ROV has also been outfitted with a suite of sensors and equipment to support data and sample collection, as well as interactive research, experimentation, and technology development.

After successful tank testing, SuBastian was shipped to Guam where it met Falkor for integration and mobilization. Engineers and Falkor crew spent 25 days over the summer testing the ROV and placing SuBastian in real-world conditions. The ROV trials included 22 dives and more than 100 hours underwater. The team used the information collected to make tweaks and improvements that were further tested during an additional six dives in November. An additional six days were spent offshore testing SuBastian’s subsystems, and conducting extensive crew training for new ROV Pilot Technicians. Observations were made by external science experts and team members bringing attention to areas of improvements, which were addressed.

SuBastian’s first science expedition was to explore the hydrothermal vents in the Mariana Back-arc region off the coast of Guam and four cruises utilizing SuBastian are planned for 2017.

Crew members Jacki Clueard and Lars Tönsfeldt prepare the umbilical floats for ROV SuBastian's sea trails off Guam