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DSV Alvin

From Academic Kids

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ALVIN_submersible.jpg
ALVIN in 1978, a year after first exploring hydrothermal vents.

Alvin (DSV-2) is a 16 tonnes, manned deep-ocean research submersible owned by the United States Navy and operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). The craft was built by General Mills' Electronics Group in the same factory used to manufacture breakfast cereal-producing machinery in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Named both for the famous cartoon chipmunk and its proponent Allyn Vine, the Alvin was commissioned June 5, 1964. The submersible is launched from the deep submergence support vessel Atlantis, which is also owned by the Navy and operated by WHOI.The sub has taken 12,000 people on over 4,000 dives, to observe the lifeforms that must cope with super-pressures and move about in total darkness.

It is said Alvin research has featured in nearly 2,000 scientific papers.

Alvin was designed as a replacement for bathyscaphes and other less maneuverable oceanographic vehicles. Its more nimble design was made possible in part by the development of syntactic foam, which is buoyant and yet strong enough to serve as a structural material at great depths. The three-person vessel allows for two scientists and one pilot to dive for up to eight hours at 4500 meters. The submersible features two robotic arms and can be fitted with mission-specific sampling and experimental gear.

Over the years, the Alvin has undergone many overhauls to improve its equipment and extend its lifetime. The most recent overhaul was during 2001; in which, among other equipment, motor controllers and computer systems were added.

On August 6, 2004, the National Science Foundation announced the creation of a new Human Occupied Vehicle (HOV) to replace the aging Alvin. The new vehicle is designed to dive deeper and use new scientific equipment. The fate of the Alvin when this new submersible arrives is unknown. Many say it will be either placed in a museum or be used to explore relatively shallow waters.

Contrary to a BBC article (see below) published in October 2004, the Alvin has not yet been retired from service.

External links

See also

Other deep submergence vehicles

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