In 2005 a Russian submarine, the Priz, was disabled in 625 feet of water when it became entangled in cables. With time passing, precious oxygen supplies dwindling, and all other rescue efforts failing to free the sub and its seven-member crew, a British remotely operated vehicle (ROV) came to the rescue. The Scorpio 45’s six-member crew guided the unmanned vehicle to the sub and cut the cables trapping it. The sub and the crew returned safely to port.
On April 25, the Falmouth Academy ROV Team will be in a similar, simulated spot.
The FA team will join 21 other teams to conduct four missions as they compete in the MATE (Marine Advanced Technology Education Center) New England Regional ROV Contest at Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Their mission: inspect a disabled sub for damage and rescue the crew.
The 2009 team includes juniors Marco Catipovic, Mariel Rich, Clea Baumhofer, Andrew Smith, Lagan Trieschman, Katie Romagnoli, Anna Van Voorhis and Emma Nye. They have been working on their robot since September, building it outside of school hours and even raising the funds themselves to buy parts.
In the regional competition, the team and its ROV must complete four technically challenging mission tasks within a set timeframe:
• Task 1: survey and inspect a sub for damage
• Task 2: unscrew the sub hatch, insert rescue pods into the escape tower, and screw the hatch closed
• Task 3: replenish the sub’s air supply
• Task 4: dock the ROV to the sub’s escape hatch and simulate a crew rescue.
The team also is judged on the quality of its technical reports, engineering evaluations and its poster presentation.
In 2007 FA’s ROV team topped the regional competition, then traveled to Newfoundland for the international competition, in which they placed fifth overall. This year’s team is taking it one step at a time; if they qualify in the regional meet in April, they will return to Mass Maritime in the summer for the international contest.
Sponsors of the team this year include Teledyne Webb, Teledyne Benthos, Cape Cod Sports Medicine and FA science teacher Jim Johnson.