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Shipwreck survey success

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The 3D map Gavia produced of SS Nord in just two hours.

The intricacies of a Tasman Peninsula shipwreck have been uncovered in just two hours by one of the Australian Maritime College’s underwater robots.

In a collaboration with the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service, the Australian Maritime College (AMC) deployed its autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) Gavia to survey SS Nord, a cargo ship that sank in 1915 a few miles from Tasman Island.

Gavia was launched from a seven-metre-long Sharkcat vessel—provided by Eaglehawk Dive Centre— and spent around two hours using sonar (sound waves) to collect data at depths of up to 60 metres.

The AUV returned a high resolution map of the depths and shapes of the shipwreck under the water, providing valuable archaeological information to the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service.

Maritime Heritage Officer Mike Nash explained the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service’s interest in using the underwater robot to survey SS Nord.

“We have had a recent focus on the Nord shipwreck, thanks to the 100th anniversary of the wreck last year, the acquisition of the original builder’s model of the Nord from overseas, and an interpretation of the shipwreck featuring at one of the new walkers’ huts on the Three Capes Track.

“As such, we were interested in investigating the capabilities of the AUV technology to uncover details of the site, particularly as it’s deep enough to make recording by divers a difficult prospect.

“We were pleased with the quality of the results, which give us a three dimensional view of the wreck and the surrounding seabed. This snapshot of the wreck at a specific date can also be used to monitor future changes to the site.

“As such, we are interested in collaborating with the Australian Maritime College for future projects.”

AMC’s AUV Lab Manager, Alfian Marzuki, explains why Gavia is well suited for this type of survey work.

“At three meters in length, this relatively small AUV can be launched directly from shore or from a small boat, making it ideal for underwater mapping in the coastal areas.

“With enough power in one battery to run continuously for three hours, it is an effective and cost efficient way to carry out a short underwater survey as part of the searching, mapping and documenting of an archaeological site.”

Gavia is part of an AUV facility that is set to become one of the best equipped globally. For more information on AMC’s AUV capabilities, please visit the Facilities section of our website.

The SS Nord survey was initiated by AMC to demonstrate the AUV’s capabilities. The AUV and personnel were provided by AMC. Support vessel and accommodation for staff were provided by Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service.

Gavia at the SS Nord site

Image: Gavia at the site of SS Nord in the Tasman Peninsula

Published on: 14 Nov 2016