Getting to the Core of the Matter

We're back in Japan, assisting with another world-leading geophysical project. This work involved deployment of a sophisticated, remotely operated seafloor drill. The drill, owned by Fukada Salvage, is a product of the fertile minds at Cellula Robotics, a world leader in automated robotic systems - above and below the water.

While it's generically referred to as a 'drill', the CRD100 recovers core samples - 70m core samples on this trip - starting at depths over 1500m below the surface.

Subsea Geoservices Inc. (SGSI) provided two teams of skilled operators to allow operation, maintenance and technical support 24/7 for the drill and related systems.

The drill was deployed aboard the Fukada Salvage vessel Shin Chou Maru.
ShinChouMaru-1
Drill Gojira
Affectionately known as 'Gojira', the drill is something of a beast - albeit a pretty well behaved beast. At 13,500 Kg in air (with full tool suite), it's definitely not something to be taken lightly. The winch used to lower this unit to the seafloor and recover it is a monster itself - an 800 hp, electric, heave-compensated marvel from Hawboldt.
All of the onboard functions of the drill are remotely controlled and semi-automated. The control van, where the operators are sequestered, is wall-to-wall screens showing multiple, live camera views of all of the drill functions as well as 3D graphics of the drill and carousel status.

screens
 
Crew
The seafloor functions demand operator focus and attention but there is comparatively little physical effort involved. The surface operations, on the other hand, are a lot of physical work - in this case, performed in 30C+ temperatures. Core tubes have to be removed from the carousel, the cores extracted and the tubes prepared for the next deployment. They also have to be loaded back on the carousel. Ship's crew cheerfully provided massive assistance.
 
While the weather was somewhat less than cooperative, the drill itself was reliable and delivered beyond the client's expectations. Multiple cores were returned exceeding 70m in length with recovery rates exceeding 90% - a testament to the skill of the 'driller' on the team.

Scott
 

By the end of the mission, all of the sample storage capacity on the ship was full and the SGSI team had effectively 'raised the bar' for seafloor drilling performance.

 

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