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MODUS: Space Shuttle for Deep-Water Operations

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This paper presents MObile Docker for Underwater Sciences (MODUS), a specialized remotely operated vehicle (ROV)for deployment, recovery, and servicing of heavy sea bottom stations, for example, scientific observatories for deep-water application (depth rated 4,000 m). Developed, built, and tested as part of the EC-funded project GEophysical and Oceanographic STation for Abyssal Research (GEOSTAR 2001), the new ROV system includes the operating vessel with winch and umbilical and the versatile "space shuttle" MODUS for handling the bottom station with modularized payload. The paper focuses on aspects of the development as well as open water trials and missions. Results from hydrodynamic analyses are presented to illustrate design studies for minimized structure drag and therefore minimized power requirements for thruster-driven horizontal movements. Motion analyses comprise the dynamic behavior of the ship and the entire deep-dived system considering hydroelastic effects. Due to the direct coupling, vertical excitations of the ship in the prevailing sea are substantially transmitted along the submerged umbilical to the ROV, causing potentially harmful slack cable situations. Results from numerical simulations illustrate the dynamic response of the system due to ship oscillations in random seas and the associated downtime of MODUS operations. The paper presents the latest technological and scientific applications of MODUS during its first cruises: Reaching depths of 3,700 m within the EC-funded projects GEOSTAR and BIOtechnology from the DEEP (BIODEEP) in the Mediterranean Sea demonstrates its high availability with reliable performance and low costs.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2003-07-01

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