WHOI Official Gives Insight on Alvin’s Historic Dive

Photo Courtesy Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

WOODS HOLE – The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution submersible recently made a history-making dive with its new dive rating.

Andy Bowen, Principal Engineer at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, said Alvin recently made its deepest ever dive when it reached a depth of nearly 4 miles in the Puerto Rico Trench.

Bowen said there is an intense amount of pressure involved in travelling to such deep dives.

“The submersible and all of its associated systems have to be suitable from an engineering perspective to withstand the crushing pressures that exist at such depth,” Bowen said.

The vessel recently underwent repairs before a set of sea trials to get recertified for operations by the U.S. Navy.

“The majority of the work that was undertaken during the recent sea trials was to prove the capabilities and to ensure that all the critical systems of the submersible were suitable to undertake ongoing scientific operations,” Bowen said.

Bowen said the Navy-owned sub, which WHOI operates, has performed over 5,000 dives since it launched in 1964.

According to WHOI officials, Alvin can now reach up to 99% of sea floor with its new dive rating.

“It gives researchers capabilities to conduct science in critical areas of the ocean that used to be inaccessible,” he said.

Observers onboard Alvin conduct science that includes gathering samples, making chemical measurements, and studying geologic features.

“It’s helped to rewrite the textbook for ocean science in the areas of geology, biology, and it’s made some stunning discoveries and really have overturned our understanding of the ocean,” Bowen said.

He added he expects Alvin will continue that legacy with its new dive rating.

Although Alvin may be out at sea for the next few years, Bowen noted the importance of the submersible for the community on Cape Cod.

“It will be travelling the world’s oceans in support of science and that’s something that we’re very proud of and something that I think everyone in the area can take some pride in.”

By Brian Engles, CapeCod.com NewsCenter


About Brian Engles

Brian Engles is a longtime local of the Cape. He studied Film & TV at Boston University and in addition to his role at Cape Cod Broadcasting Media, he also works as a music instructor and records original songs.

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