Faster than a …..

…… Navy frigate?

Here we are back in the Azores to recover the six seabed instruments that we deployed there back in August – it seems such a long time ago now.

Last time the Portuguese Navy were very kind enough to assist with the deployment by providing the vessel.

They have done the same for the recovery – this time with the newest vessel in their fleet.

This one has a nice large helideck which gives a lot of working space.

And a not too high freeboard for getting instruments out of the water, but also generating a not too steep gangway for carrying equipment up and down.

And this vessel is registered on MarineTraffic, so those back in the lab can follow the recovery in real time.

Courtesy of MarineTraffic

The first job is always to get the recovery equipment onboard, set it up and put our GPS receiver somewhere up high to get a good view of the sky.

A newer vessel brings a (slightly) bigger working lab space.

And a bit of space to ready the over-the-side transducer that we’ll use to communicate with the instrument platforms on the seabed as this Navy vessel doesn’t have a suitable transducer attached to its hull.

Its a bit like packing the “kitchen sink”; we have to take everything we might need, together with all the things we think we won’t but you never know what will happen.

Being the end of January and with the Azores out in the middle of the Atlantic, we have a very small weather window to get the six platforms back, so an early start.

The advantage of a Navy vessel is that they also go a lot faster than the research vessels we are used to.

So the first four instruments were recovered quickly as the tracking shows – it is easy to see from the tracking where each was deployed and where the vessel was going slowly (yellow) waiting for each to surface.

Courtesy MarineTraffic

The recovery was made all the more easy as the navy wanted to use their high speed craft to “catch” each one when it surface and tow it back to the mothership.

The sea state meant daylight recoveries ….

…. its a good job these three are tied down as otherwise they might redeploy themselves!

But with daylight waning its a tootle round behind the islands for shelter overnight ….

Courtesy MarineTraffic

… before recommencing first thing in the morning with the final two.

The first four were fully data loaded which is always a bonus – we wonder how many microearthquakes they will have recorded over the 6 months they have been on the seabed.

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