East Hawaii News

New UH Vessel Can Reach Depths of 3+ Miles

October 18, 2013, 1:29 PM HST
* Updated October 18, 1:31 PM
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The University of Hawai`i has a new set of eyes and arms to explore the depths of the ocean.

The university’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology held a ceremony Thursday to name the Lu`ukai, Hawaiian for “sea diver.”

The 3,000-pound, remotely operated vessel (ROV) is equipped with manipulator arms, lights, high-definition still and video cameras and sonar which allow it to collect specimens and perform a variety of underwater tasks.

The Lu`ukai will complement two other deep-diving submersibles, the Pisces IV and Pisces V, which are capable of carrying three researchers to depths of 6,000 feet.

Pisces’ missions have included study of Loihi, the undersea volcano growing off the southeast coast of the Big Island.

During training cruises several miles off Oahu in 2002, the crews of the two submersibles discovered a Japanese mini-submarine that had been sunk by a US destroyer two hours before the 1941 aerial attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Lu`ukai can dive more than three miles deep — three times the range of the manned Pisces submersibles — which makes it capable of reaching the distant seafloor around the Hawaiian Islands.

SOEST image.

SOEST image.

The new ROV has already been on several tests from shore, and will be taken by the SOEST research vessel Kilo Moana on its first scientific mission in early December.

 The vessel, which will be employed in research missions by SOEST’s Hawai`i Undersea Research Laboratory, was designed and built by Deep Ocean Exploration and Research Marine.

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