First day of ship-board operations

13 Jul 2015
Bruno Loureiro "launching" the LAUV Xplore-1 for the T-REX surveys.
Bruno and Kanna getting ready to launch the Xplore -1 and -2 for the T-REX surveys which would eventually be used to cetacean tracking, the core of the REP-15 science experiment.
Bruno Loureiro "launching" the LAUV Xplore-1 for the T-REX surveys.
João Pereira (with headset) and Paulo Dias making space on the deck for AUV and UAV equipment.
A serious moment between Zé Pinto and Krzysztof Cisek of NTNU.
Bruno and Pereira returning to the vessel on retrieving the two Xplore's after a successful T-REX survey.
Interpolated temperature data from the co-temporal AUV surveys.

Day one on our research vessel the Portuguese Navy vessel NRP Gago Coutinho started off with all of us boarding early at the pier in Horta. A slight delay because of some booting problems with the ships systems (bad electronics card) got us to leave port around 10am. On the transit to station (the point where we were to be stationary for launch operations) a number of us visited the bridge to meet with the ships captain and crew. Captain Perico and XO (Executive Officer) Vitorino were very gracious and showed us around the ships command/control systems. 

This being a Portuguese ship among the critical items for discussion was the food to be served for lunch. Two years ago, on the NRP Baccamarte we had a similar experience. The cook and captain conferred early to set the menu and its expectations. The cook on that vessel was really far out, making exotic dishes. Life would stop for lunch and resume after all were fed. Same too here we discovered. 

Visit to the bridge for "important" discussions (like lunch) concluded we headed down to the control room which was tight with numerous servers, laptops and ethernet cables running all over the place. With space at a premium, we had to sacrifice a small gym for the crew and take it over as part of our control room which besides us from FEUP and NTNU, including a large contingent from CMRE, Italy. More frenetic activity to setup laptops and the ever important communication networks ensued which kept the entire FEUP crew busy.

Meanwhile, CMRE deployed two WaveGliders in a very smooth and efficient operation with the onboard Navy personnel. 

Lunch came by promptly with the Bacalhau, life stopped and resumed around 1pm to prepare for the deployment of the 2 upper water-column AUVs running co-temporal environmental surveys. This test was intended to mimic the Phase-II operations of surveying transects of cetaceans to characterize the water column and surface (via UAVs). 

Frédéric and Zé had the 2 AUVs launched with little ceremony, but then had to contend with slow message communication via Iridium satellite to the two vehicles in the water. In the process of running thru checks, they discovered a bug, which was quickly patched; over WiFi the vehicle sensor measurements were also scrutinized to ensure there was no repeat of a bogus depth reading. And away they went! About 1.5 hours later with intermittent spotting of the vehicles on surfacing by João Vitorino and Kanna, the end of mission was targeted. Test complete and the new EUROPTus system was shown to work in this environment. All, particularly Kanna, relaxed.

Only to be jolted by the wild ride on a RHIB from the ship back to Horta, courtesy of DOP. Fun and wet, the team came back to terra-firma for a wash, dinner and plans for the next day.

FEUP UAV team stayed on shore for the day, to fly again X8-01 after the reconstruction. Everything went as expected and the aircraft behaved well, but it wasn't possible to complete the controllers autotune process as intended due to wind picking up