Saturday, January 19, 2013

Digital map error may have led to minesweeper grounding

NGA chart 92020 Suhu Sea (1:500,000) soundings in meters

NGA chart 92033 Palawan (1:402,000) soundings in fathoms

From Intercepts / NavyTimes

A digital chart used by the minesweeper USS Guardian to navigate Philippine waters misplaced the location of a reef by about eight nautical miles (approximatively the length of the North Islet), and may have been a significant factor when the ship drove hard aground on the reef on Jan. 17.

Aerial photographs provided by the Philippine military showed the ship’s bow sitting atop corals in shallow turquoise waters, with the stern floating in the deep blue waters in the South Atoll.
Crewmembers are visible on the Guardian's upper superstructure in this image taken Jan. 17.
They were subsequently taken off the ship for safety reasons, the Navy said.
It was unclear how much of the reef was damaged.
The government imposes a fine of about $300 per square meter (yard) of damaged coral.
In 2005, the environmental group Greenpeace was fined almost $7,000 after its 'Rainbow Warrior II' flagship struck a reef in the same area.
The World Wide Fund for Nature Philippines said in a statement that according to an initial ocular inspection, the 68-meter (74-yard) long, 1,300-ton Guardian damaged at least 10 meters (yards) of the reef.
As of Jan. 18, U.S. Navy ships have been directed to “operate with caution” when using similar electronic charts and compare the map data with paper charts, which are considered accurate.

 >>> geolocalization with the Marine GeoGarage <<<

extract of BA 967 Palawan (1985)
1 : 725,000 / depths in fathoms

 undetermined datum 

Note from NP33 Philippines Islands Pilot 2ed 2004 (2.20)
"Tubbatha Reefs are two extensive dangerous reefs separated by a channel 4 miles wide.
In 2005 the reefs were reported to extend 1.5 miles seaward of their charted positions."

2537 NAMRIA topographic map (1:250,000) for Tubbataha reefs

 Tubbataha Reef dive map (picture)
Tubbataha means « long reef exposed at low tide»

 Tubbataha lighthouse coordinates (WGS84) : (ENC zoom view)
on the official ENC vector chart : 8°44.91' N / 119°49.19' E
-note : 08° 44.389' N / 119° 48.684' E / Elev: 3m on source, so 0.72 Nm (1.3 km) SSW (224°) from ENC position-
(photo Gregg Yan) 

Crewmembers are visible on the Guardian's upper superstructure in this image taken Jan. 17.
They were subsequently taken off the ship for safety reasons, the Navy said.

The Guardian drove onto Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea around 2:25 a.m. on Jan. 17 (some sources cite a date of Jan. 16, since that was the date in Washington, D.C. when the incident occurred).
The reef is about 80 miles east-southeast of Palawan Island.

The ship had been at Olongapo City in Subic Bay, and was en route to Indonesia when she struck the reef, according to the Navy.
The Guardian is homeported at Sasebo, Japan.
The mine countermeasures vessel, with a wooden hull sheathed in fiberglass, has been taking on water and moving on the reef, and 79 crew members were taken off the ship on Jan. 18, transferring to the Navy survey ship Bowditch and the C-Champion, a commercial vessel chartered by the Navy’s Military Sealift Command.

 Tubbataha reefs on Google Earth :
no detailed image 

Remote Sensing of Coral Reefs : SeaWiFS Bathymetry

 with Landsat satellite picture (USGS)
Note : Tubbataha lighthouse coordinates (WGS84)  : approximatively 8°45 N / 119°49.2' E
so comparable to the ENC coordinates

The Guardian has not been abandoned, the Navy said, and the service said removal of the crew was a temporary safety measure.
“Seventh Fleet ships remain on scene and essential Guardian sailors will continue conducting survey operations onboard the ship as needed until she is recovered,” said Vice Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet, of which the Guardian is a member.
“Several support vessels have arrived and all steps are being taken to minimize environmental effects while ensuring the crew’s continued safety,” Swift said in a statement issued Jan. 18.

(see discussion / OpenSeaMap view with Bing Maps)

 Bing Maps (with Earthstar Geographics TerraColor 15m satellite imagery from Landsat data)
showing a shift in the position of the map vs satellite imagery
Note : this doesn't seem to be a problem of datum :
the shift between official PRS92 (or even old Luzon 1911) local Philippines datum
and WGS84 geodesy is about 450 meters (0.24 Nm) in the area
(see MapBox OSM editor for better view)
Note : Tubbataha lighthouse Bing Maps coordinates (WGS84): approximatively 8°42.13' N / 119°56.57' E
so shifted 7.8 Nm (14,5 km) in the SW (111°) from the ENC position 

ELS2000v2 Landsat view (courtesy GeoSage)

ELS2000v2 detailed view on Tubbataha Reefs (courtesy GeoSage)

 Planet Observer 15m satellite imagery (Landsat data)

 Note : Tubbataha lighthouse (WGS84)  : approximatively 8°42' N / 119°56.60' E
equivalent to the coordinates got with Bing Maps,
so also shifted 8 Nm from ENC position

The ship remains threatened by the weather, according to the Navy official, and the crew has been dealing with rough, unpredictable seas coming from different directions, adding to the ship’s movement on the reef.
A Philippine salvage tug, the Trabajador, also is on the scene and assisting, as is the Philippine Coast Guard.
Other Navy ships are headed to assist the Guardian.
The Mustin, a destroyer based in Yokosuka, Japan, is expected to arrive shortly, and the Pearl Harbor-based salvage ship Salvor is en route, although she is not expected on the scene until later next week.

Digital Error

The Digital Nautical Charts (DNC) used by the Guardian and most Navy ships are produced by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), a largely secret organization headquartered in Springfield,Va.

The DNC charts come in “general” and “coastal” versions, and, according to an NGA memo sent to the Navy on Jan. 18, the error was in the coastal DNC.
The general DNC and hardcopy charts show the reef’s location correctly, NGA said.

extract from UKHO NtM December 22, 2005
indicating undetermined datum for BA943, BA967, BA3483, BA3809 and BA3811 charts 
and the extension of the reefs 1-5 miles seaward

 extract from NtM August 13rd, 2011
signalling a missing reef data for DNC CD11

Letitia Long, the agency’s director, told the Navy that the coastal DNC charts would be corrected by Jan. 30, and advised ships not to use the Sulu Sea charts until then.

The Navy’s head navigator took things a step further, advising in a message sent to the fleet Jan. 18 “to operate with caution when using NGA-supplied Coastal Digital Nautical Charts due to an identified error in the accuracy of charting in the Sulu Sea.” (Commander, Pacific Fleet)
Rear Adm. Jonathan White, Oceanographer and Navigator of the Navy, said in the message that preliminary analysis of the error indicates it “resulted from incorrect geographic rectification of satellite imagery used to build” the coastal DNC charts.
“NGA has found no other anomalies, but is currently conducting a comprehensive review of its source data,” White said in the message.
He cautioned Navy ships “to compare coastal DNC charts with general DNC library charts, and not rely on [a] single source for navigation data.
“Commanding officers,” White added, “are directed to report any anomalies immediately to NGA.”
"While the erroneous navigation chart data is important information, no one should jump to conclusions," said Pacific Fleet spokesman Capt. Darryn James.
"It is critical that the U.S. Navy conduct a comprehensive investigation that assesses all the facts surrounding the Guardian grounding."

 DNC11 coastal charts in Philippines
COA11D : South China Sea; Palawan Island, Philippines
Charts: US 91320, 91330, 92033, 92480, 92490, 92500, 92520, 93044, 93045, 93046, 93047,

CH 10019, 18050, 18100, 18200, 18300, 18400, 18500, 18600, 18700, 18800;
    UK 967, 287, 3819, 3820, 3821, 4483

The agency expects to complete its review of all coastal DNC charts by Jan. 22, White noted.
A Navy official cautioned that while the digital chart error may have contributed to the incident, an accident investigation is continuing.
“This guidance to the fleet does not presuppose the cause of the USS Guardian grounding,” the official said Jan. 18.
“The investigation will look at a number of potential contributing factors.”

PH4TBTH0 ENC Tubbatha Reef
scale : Approach (1:22.000 - 1 : 100.000)
soundings in meters
official ENC from NAMRIA Philippines Hydrographic Office
-vector ECDIS chart equivalent to military DNC-
has been last updated 2010-05-12 
Note : equivalent to paper local nautical map 4357 (1:50,000 Jan 2009) 

 C-Map CM93 commercial vector chart (overzoom view)
note : Tubbataha lighthouse coordinates (WGS84) : 8°43.49' N / 119°48.90' E
so shifted 1.4 Nm (2,7 km) in the SSW (191°) from the ENC position

 Navionics commercial vector chart

 Transas TX97 commercial vector chart

The Guardian is commanded by Lt. Cmdr. Mark Rice, who first reported to the ship in October 2011.
The 14-ship minesweeper fleet, which generally toils in obscurity, has become the focus of major refurbishment and modernization efforts with the delay of planned replacements, renewed concerns about anti-mine capabilities, and a surge deployment to the Persian Gulf.
Guardian is one of four ships forward-deployed to Japan.
Four others are homeported at Bahrain, where four San Diego-based ships also are operating.
Two others remain at San Diego, home base for the mine force.
The ships entered service between 1987 and 1994.

Located within the Northern apex of the Coral Triangle, Tubbataha reef is often considered to be the best dive spot in the Philippines and this marine protected area is home to a staggering wealth of biodiversity.
The Tubbataha Reefs has two coral atolls that harbor a wide range of marine species including 600 species of fish, 360 species of corals, 11 species of sharks, 13 species of dolphins and whales, 100 species of birds and sea turtles.
Ships are not allowed to go near the area since it is a protected site,
according to Republic Act 10067 or the Tubbataha Reefs National Park Act of 2009.
The Tubbataha management office said the 68-meter ship entered these areas without permission and failed to coordinate with environmental officials.

The incident has triggered worries in the Philippines about potential damage to the coral reef, which is in a Unesco World Heritage zone where entry is restricted. (see WWF)
So far, no fuel leaks have been reported from the ship.

Links :

People of the Coral Triangle

from James Morgan Photography

Links :

Friday, January 18, 2013

Canada CHS update in the Marine GeoGarage

16 charts have been updated (December 28, 2012) :
    • 1430 LAC SAINT-LOUIS
    So 688 charts (1658 including sub-charts) are available in the Canada CHS layer. (see coverage)

    Note : don't forget to visit 'Notices to Mariners' published monthly and available from the Canadian Coast Guard both online or through a free hardcopy subscription service.
    This essential publication provides the latest information on changes to the aids to navigation system, as well as updates from CHS regarding CHS charts and publications.
    See also written Notices to Shipping and Navarea warnings : NOTSHIP

    How the vampire squid eats its prey

     For years marine biologists have puzzled over what the mysterious vampire squid eats.
    Recent research by Henk-Jan Hoving and Bruce Robison at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute finally reveals the answer.
    These deep-sea creatures use long, retractile filaments to passively harvest particles and aggregates of detritus, or marine snow, sinking from the waters above.
    This feeding strategy, unknown in any other cephalopod (this group of animals includes squid and octopods), allows vampire squid to thrive in the oxygen minimum zone where there are few predators but marine detritus is abundant.

    From Wired

    Marine biologists have finally solved the mystery of how the “vampire squid” feeds, and what on — namely a delightful recipe of corpses and faeces washed down with its own mucus.

     photos on MBARI or National Geographic

    With a name like Vampyroteuthis infernalis (meaning, quite literally, the squid from hell), this lonely cephalopod was never going to be chowing down on any ordinary fare.
    Residing around 3,000 feet deep in warm waters, where there is little oxygen, and reaching a size of just 5 inches in adulthood, the vampire squid’s life is a solitary one — it even has its very own taxononomic order, Vampyromorphida, of which it is the sole member, being an unusual breed that has characteristics of both octopi and squid.
    Its name, however, is misleading, according to research carried out by Hendrik Hoving and Bruce Robison of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.
    Their findings, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, reveal that the unusual cephalopod quite cleverly takes advantage of its environment, where there is little competition for food or threat of predators.

    “Vampyroteuthis’ feeding behaviour is unlike any other cephalopod,” explains the study.
    “(It) reveals a unique adaptation that allows these animals to spend most of their life at depths where oxygen concentrations are very low, but where predators are few and typical cephalopod food is scarce.”

    The vampire squid therefore feeds solely on “marine snow” — the debris that falls to the ocean floor, not live creatures.
    Marine biologists have never before been able to prove this, finding stomach contents of the dissected cephalopods to be inconclusive.
    Hoving and Robison proved the theory by not only examining the stomach contents of live cephalopods from Southern California and Mexico, but by filming the specimens in their natural habitat using remotely operated vehicles and studying them in tanks back at the lab.

    The vampire squid can turn itself "inside out" to avoid predators.

    When debris made of animal particles were sunk in the tanks, the pair witnessed the cephalopod extend a fine, long filament from its umbrella-like mouth, which contains a web of eight arms covered in suckers and spines called cirri.
    This filament (which extends to eight times its body length) would stick to the debris, and then be drawn back through the web of arms, where the edible particles are “cleaned” off the filament and covered in mucus secreted from suckers.
    This glued together combination of mucus and debris is then placed in the mouth using the cirri, and consumed.

    “The food items that we found in digestive tracts, in droppings and regurgitations and that we saw being consumed during in situ observations were not representative of captured live prey,” states the study.
    “Instead, Vampyroteuthis’ food consisted of agglomerated copepod parts, faecal pellets, diatoms, radiolarians and fish scales; often embedded in a mucus matrix. The most likely source of this eclectic mix is marine snow aggregates, including the feeding structures of larvaceans.”

    Speaking to Discovery News, Richard Young, a biological oceanographer not involved in the study, called the findings “spectacular”.

    “Vampire squid have always had these really funny long things that stick out of their body, and scientists like me had no idea what they were used for. Now we know. [This] is one peculiar critter. I would be shocked if any other marine organism ate in such a way.”

    So it turns out the stealthy cephalopod — which uses its massive 2.5cm eye to look out for food, cloaks itself in bioluminescence to hide its silhouette from predators and uses its filaments to safely extract marine snow from a distance — has been getting a bad rap all these years, despite being possibly the only cephalopod to not eat live prey.
    It can now have its reputation adjusted — the cephalopod should no longer be referred to as a vampire, but instead a detritivore: a creature that thrives on decomposing bodies and faecal matter.
    It might not be much of an improvement.

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

    James Whistler, painter and former cartographer

    Sketch of Anacapa Island, 1854
    Records of the Coast And Geodetic Survey / National Archives and Records Administration 

    James Abbott McNeill Whistler, one of the most influential figures in the 19th-century art world, (Whistlers' mother famous painting) learned etching while employed in the cartographic section of the U.S. Coast Survey.

     The Sea 1865, oil on canvas, Montclair Art Museum

    According to that agency's volume of Personnel Records, 1816-1881, Whistler was hired by the federal government as a draftsman on November 7, 1854, for $1.50 a day.

    However, his unconventional work habits and his inability to conform to government routine led to his dismissal on January 9, 1855.

    One of the known works completed by Whistler during his brief federal service, "Sketch of Anacapa Island," 1854, exemplifies Whistler's need to add his personal touch to official charts.
    After he completed this etching in the approved style, he thought it looked dull.
    Therefore, he added two flocks of gulls sailing gracefully over the rocky headland.

    The National Archives holds three impressions of this work, and the originals can be seen by contacting the Cartographic and Architectural Branch of the National Archives, located in College Park, MD.

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

    UK & misc. update in the Marine GeoGarage

    Today 960 charts ( including sub-charts) from UKHO
    are available in the 'UK & misc.' chart layer
    regrouping charts for different countries :
    1. UK
    2. Argentina
    3. Belgium
    4. Netherlands
    5. Croatia
    6. Oman
    7. Portugal
    8. Spain
    9. Iceland
    10. South Africa
    11. Malta

    637 charts for UK
    (16    Jizan
    3048    Grand Port
    3287    Bonny River  Field Point to Ford Point
    4644    Southern Ocean, Cape Otway to Cape Howe including Tasmania

    so 4 charts withdrawn from previous update
    3586    South Atlantic Ocean, Harbours and Anchorages in South Georgia
    so 1 chart added  from previous update )

    24 charts for Argentina :

    • 226    International Chart Series, Antarctica - South Shetlands Islands, Deception Island.
    • 227    Church Point to Cape Longing including James Ross Island
    • 531    Plans on the Coast of Argentina
    • 552    Plans on the Coast of Argentina
    • 557    Mar del Plata to Comodoro Rivadavia
    • 1302    Cabo Guardian to Punta Nava
    • 1331    Argentina, Approaches to Bahia Blanca
    • 1332    Isla de los Estados and Estrecho de le Maire
    • 1751    Puerto de Buenos Aires
    • 1982B    Rio Parana - Rosario to Parana
    • 2505    Approaches to the Falkland Islands
    • 2517    North-Western Approaches to the Falkland Islands
    • 2519    South-Western Approaches to the Falkland Islands
    • 3065    Punta Piedras to Quequen
    • 3066    Quequen to Rio Negro
    • 3067    Rio Negro to Isla Leones
    • 3106    Isla Leones to Pto San Julian
    • 3213    Plans in Graham Land
    • 3560    Gerlache Strait  Northern Part
    • 3566    Gerlache Strait  Southern Part
    • 3755    Bahia Blanca
    • 4063    Bellingshausen Sea to Valdivia
    • 4200    Rio de la Plata to Cabo de Hornos
    • 4207    Falkland Islands to Cabo Corrientes and Northeast Georgia Rise
    27 charts for Belgium & Nederlands :

    • 99 Entrances to Rivers in Guyana and Suriname
    • 110 Westkapelle to Stellendam and Maasvlakte
    • 112 Terschellinger Gronden to Harlingen
    • 120 Westerschelde - Vlissingen to Baalhoek and Gent - Terneuzen Canal
    • 122 Approaches to Europoort and Hoek van Holland
    • 124 Noordzeekanaal including Ijmuiden, Zaandam and Amsterdam
    • 125 North Sea Netherlands - Approaches to Scheveningen and Ijmuiden
    • 126 North Sea, Netherlands, Approaches to Den Helder
    • 128 Westerschelde, Valkenisse to Wintam
    • 207 Hoek Van Holland to Vlaardingen
    • 208 Rotterdam, Nieuwe Maas and Oude Maas
    • 209 Krimpen a/d Lek to Moerdijk
    • 266 North Sea Offshore Charts Sheet 11
    • 572 Essequibo River to Corentyn River
    • 702 Nederlandse Antillen, Aruba and Curacao
    • 1187 Outer Silver Pit
    • 1408 North Sea, Harwich and Rotterdam to Cromer and Terschelling.
    • 1412 Caribbean Sea - Nederlandse Antillen, Ports in Aruba and Curacao
    • 1414 Bonaire
    • 1503 Outer Dowsing to Smiths Knoll including Indefatigable Banks.
    • 1504 Cromer to Orford Ness
    • 1546 Zeegat van Texel and Den Helder Roads
    • 1630 West Hinder and Outer Gabbard to Vlissingen and Scheveningen
    • 1631 DW Routes to Ijmuiden and Texel
    • 1632 DW Routes and Friesland Junction to Vlieland
    • 1874 North Sea, Westerschelde, Oostende to Westkapelle
    • 2047 Approaches to Anguilla

    14 charts for Croatia :

    • 201 Rt Kamenjak to Novigrad
    • 202 Kvarner, Kvarneric and Velebitski Kanal
    • 269 Ploce and Split with Adjacent Harbours, Channels and Anchorages
    • 515 Zadar to Luka Mali Losinj
    • 683 Bar, Dubrovnik and Approaches and Peljeski Kanal
    • 1574 Otok Glavat to Ploce and Makarska
    • 1580 Otocic Veliki Skolj to Otocic Glavat
    • 1582 Approaches to Bar and Boka Kotorska
    • 1996 Ports in Rijecki Zaljev
    • 2711 Rogoznica to Zadar
    • 2712 Otok Susac to Split
    • 2719 Rt Marlera to Senj including Approaches to Rijeka
    • 2773 Sibenik, Pasmanski Kanal, Luka Telascica, Sedmovrace, Rijeka Krka
    • 2774 Otok Vis to Sibenik
     5 charts for Oman :

    • 2851 Masirah to the Strait of Hormuz    withdrawn from last update
    • 2854 Northern approaches to Masirah
    • 3171 Southern Approaches to the Strait of Hormuz
    • 3409 Plans in Iran, Oman and the United Arab Emirates
    • 3511 Wudam and Approaches
    • 3518 Ports and Anchorages on the North East Coast of Oman

    123 charts for Spain & Portugal :

    • 73 Puerto de Huelva and Approaches
    • 83 Ports on the South Coast of Portugal
    • 85 Spain - south west coast, Rio Guadalquivir
    • 86 Bahia de Cadiz
    • 87 Cabo Finisterre to the Strait of Gibraltar
    • 88 Cadiz
    • 89 Cabo de Sao Vicente to Faro
    • 91 Cabo de Sao Vicente to the Strait of Gibraltar
    • 93 Cabo de Santa Maria to Cabo Trafalgar
    • 142 Strait of Gibraltar
    • 144 Mediterranean Sea, Gibraltar
    • 307 Angola, Cabeca da Cobra to Cabo Ledo
    • 308 Angola, Cabo Ledo to Lobito
    • 309 Lobito to Ponta Grossa
    • 312 Luanda to Baia dos Tigres
    • 366 Arquipelago de Cabo Verde
    • 369 Plans in the Arquipelago de Cabo Verde    withdrawn from last update
    • 469 Alicante
    • 473 Approaches to Alicante
    • 518 Spain East Coast, Approaches to Valencia
    • 562 Mediterranean Sea, Spain - East Coast Valencia
    • 580 Al Hoceima, Melilla and Port Nador with Approaches
    • 659 Angola, Port of Soyo and Approache
    • 690 Cabo Delgado to Mikindani Bay
    • 886 Estrecho de la Bocayna and Approaches to Arrecife
    • 1094 Rias de Ferrol, Ares, Betanzos and La Coruna
    • 1096 Ribadeo
    • 1110 La Coruna and Approaches
    • 1111 Punta de la Estaca de Bares to Cabo Finisterre
    • 1113 Harbours on the North-West Coast of Spain
    • 1117 Puerto de Ferrol
    • 1118 Ria de Ferrol
    • 1122 Ports on the North Coast of Spain
    • 1133 Ports on the Western Part of the North Coast of Spain
    • 1142 Ria de Aviles
    • 1145 Spain - North Coast, Santander
    • 1150 Ports on the North Coast of Spain
    • 1153 Approaches to Gijon
    • 1154 Spain, north coast, Gijon
    • 1157 Pasaia (Pasajes) and Approaches
    • 1172 Puertos de Bermeo and Mundaka
    • 1173 Spain - North Coast, Bilbao
    • 1174 Approaches to Bilbao
    • 1180 Barcelona
    • 1189 Approaches to Cartagena
    • 1193 Spain - east coast, Tarragona
    • 1194 Cartagena
    • 1196 Approaches to Barcelona
    • 1197 Plans on the West Coast of Africa
    • 1215 Plans on the Coast of Angola
    • 1216 Baia dos Tigres
    • 1290 Cabo de San Lorenzo to Cabo Ortegal
    • 1291 Santona to Gijon
    • 1448 Gibraltar Bay
    • 1453 Gandia
    • 1455 Algeciras
    • 1460 Sagunto
    • 1514 Spain - East Coast, Castellon
    • 1515 Ports on the East Coast of Spain
    • 1589 Almeria
    • 1595 Ilhas do Principe, de Sao Tome and Isla Pagalu
    • 1684 Ilha da Madeira, Manchico and Canical
    • 1685 Nisis Venetico to Nisos Spetsai including the Channels between Akra Maleas and Kriti
    • 1689 Ports in the Arquipelago da Madeira
    • 1701 Cabo de San Antonio to Vilanova I la Geltru including Islas de Ibiza and Formentera
    • 1703 Mallorca and Menorca
    • 1704 Punta de la Bana to Islas Medas
    • 1724 Canal do Geba and Bissau
    • 1726 Approaches to Canal do Geba and Rio Cacheu
    • 1727 Bolama and Approaches
    • 1730 Spain - West Coast, Ria de Vigo
    • 1731 Vigo
    • 1732 Spain - West Coast, Ria de Pontevedra
    • 1733 Spain - West Coast, Marin and Pontevedra
    • 1734 Approaches to Ria de Arousa
    • 1740 Livingston Island, Bond Point to Brunow Bay including Juan Carlos 1 Base and Half Moon Island
    • 1755 Plans in Ria de Arousa
    • 1756 Ria de Muros
    • 1762 Vilagarcia de Arosa
    • 1764 Ria de Arousa
    • 1831 Arquipelago da Madeira
    • 1847 Santa Cruz de Tenerife
    • 1850 Approaches to Malaga
    • 1851 Malaga
    • 1854 Motril and Adra
    • 1856 Approaches to Puerto de La Luz (Las Palmas)
    • 1858 Approaches to Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Puerto de San Sebastian de la Gomera, Santa Cruz de la Palma and Approaches
    • 1869 Gran Canaria to Hierro
    • 1870 Lanzarote to Gran Canaria
    • 1895 Ilha de Sao Miguel
    • 1950 Arquipelago dos Acores
    • 1956 Arquipelago dos Acores Central Group
    • 1957 Harbours in the Arquipelago Dos Acores (Central Group)
    • 1959 Flores,Corvo and Santa Maria with Banco Das Formigas
    • 2742 Cueta
    • 2761 Menorca
    • 2762 Menorca, Mahon
    • 2831 Punta Salinas to Cabo de Formentor including Canal de Menorca
    • 2832 Punta Salinas to Punta Beca including Isla de Cabrera
    • 2834 Ibiza and Formentera
    • 2932 Cabo de Sao Sebastiao to Beira
    • 2934 Africa - east coast, Mozambique, Beira to Rio Zambeze
    • 2935 Quelimane to Ilha Epidendron
    • 3034 Approaches to Palma
    • 3035 Palma
    • 3220 Entrance to Rio Tejo including Baia de Cascais
    • 3221 Lisboa, Paco de Arcos to Terreiro do Trigo
    • 3222 Lisboa, Alcantara to Canal do Montijo
    • 3224 Approaches to Sines
    • 3227 Aveiro and Approaches
    • 3228 Approaches to Figueira da Foz
    • 3257 Viana do Castelo and Approaches
    • 3258 Approaches to Leixoes and Barra do Rio Douro
    • 3259 Approaches to Setubal
    • 3260 Carraca to Ilha do Cavalo
    • 3448 Plans in Angola
    • 3578 Eastern Approaches to the Strait of Gibraltar
    • 3633 Islas Sisargas to Montedor
    • 3634 Montedor to Cabo Mondego
    • 3635 Cabo Mondego to Cabo Espichel
    • 3636 Cabo Espichel to Cabo de Sao Vicente
    • 3764 Cabo Torinana to Punta Carreiro
    • 4114 Arquipelago dos Acores to Flemish Cap
    • 4115 Arquipelago dos Acores to the Arquipelago de Cabo Verde
    • Ilha de Madeira, Ponta Gorda de Sao Lourenco including the Port of Funchal

    14 charts for Iceland :

    • 2733 Dyrholaey to Snaefellsjokull
    • 2734 Approaches to Reykjavik
    • 2735 Iceland - South West Coast, Reykjavik
    • 2897 Iceland
    • 2898 Vestfirdir
    • 2899 Iceland, Noth Coast, Horn to Rauoinupur
    • 2900 Iceland, North East Coast, Rauoinupur to Glettinganes
    • 2901 Iceland, East Coast, Glettinganes to Stokksnes
    • 2902 Stokksnes to Dyrholaey
    • 2955 Iceland, North Coast, Akureyri
    • 2956 Iceland, North Coast, Eyjafjordur
    • 2937 Hlada to Glettinganes
    • 2938 Reydarfjordur
    • 4112 North Atlantic Ocean, Iceland to Greenland

    50 charts for South Africa :

    • 578 Cape Columbine to Cape Seal
    • 632 Hollandsbird Island to Cape Columbine
    • 643 Durban Harbour
    • 665 Approaches to Zanzibar
    • 1236 Saldanha Bay
    • 1769 Islands and Anchorages in the South Atlantic Ocean
    • 1806 Baia dos Tigres to Conception Bay
    • 1846 Table Bay Docks and Approaches
    • 1922 RSA - Simon's Bay
    • 2078 Port Nolloth to Island Point
    • 2086 East London to Port S Johns
    • 2087 Port St John's to Durban
    • 2088 Durban to Cape Vidal
    • 2095 Cape St Blaize to Port S. John's
    • 3793 Shixini Point to Port S Johns
    • 3794 Port S Johns to Port Shepstone
    • 3795 Port Shepstone to Cooper Light
    • 3797 Green Point to Tongaat Bluff
    • 3859 Cape Cross to Conception Bay
    • 3860 Mutzel Bay to Spencer Bay
    • 3861 Namibia, Approaches to Luderitz
    • 3869 Hottentot Point to Chamais Bay
    • 3870 Chamais Bay to Port Nolloth
    • 4132 Kunene River to Sand Table Hill
    • 4133 Sand Table Hill to Cape Cross
    • 4136 Harbours on the West Coasts of Namibia and South Africa
    • 4141 Island Point to Cape Deseada
    • 4142 Saldanha Bay Harbour
    • 4145 Approaches to Saldanha Bay
    • 4146 Cape Columbine to Table Bay
    • 4148 Approaches to Table Bay
    • 4150 Republic of South Africa, South West Coast, Table Bay to Valsbaai
    • 4151 Cape Deseada to Table Bay
    • 4152 Republic of South Africa, South West Coast, Table Bay to Cape Agulhas
    • 4153 Republic of South Africa, South Coast, Cape Agulhas to Cape St. Blaize
    • 4154 Mossel Bay
    • 4155 Cape St Blaize to Cape St Francis
    • 4156 South Africa, Cape St Francis to Great Fish Point
    • 4157 South Africa, Approaches to Port Elizabeth
    • 4158 Republic of South Africa - South Coast, Plans in Algoa Bay.
    • 4159 Great Fish Point to Mbashe Point
    • 4160 Ngqura Harbour
    • 4162 Approaches to East London
    • 4163 Republic of South Africa, South East Coast, Mbashe Point to Port Shepstone     NEW
    • 4170 Approaches to Durban
    • 4172 Tugela River to Ponta do Ouro
    • 4173 Approaches to Richards Bay
    • 4174 Richards Bay Harbour
    • 4205 Agulhas Plateau to Discovery Seamounts
    • 4700 Port Elizabeth to Mauritius

      5 charts for Malta :

      • 36 Marsaxlokk
      • 177 Valletta Harbours
      • 211 Plans in the Maltese Islands
      • 2537 Ghawdex (Gozo), Kemmuna (Comino) and the Northern Part of Malta
      • 2538 Malta

      61 international charts from NGA 
      (3 charts withdrawn from previous update
      2889 Dubayy to Jabal Az Zannah and Jazirat Das
      3172 Strait of Hormuz
       3174 Western Approaches to the Strait of Hormuz)

      • 3 Chagos Archipelago
      • 82 Outer Approaches to Port Sudan
      • 100 Raas Caseyr to Suqutra
      • 255 Eastern Approaches to Jamaica
      • 256 Western Approaches to Jamaica
      • 260 Pedro Bank to the South Coast of Jamaica
      • 333 Offshore Installations in the Gulf of Suez
      • 334 North Atlantic Ocean, Bermuda
      • 386 Yadua Island to Yaqaga Island
      • 390 Bahamas, Grand Bahama Island, Approaches to Freeport
      • 398 Grand Bahama Island, Freeport Roads, Freeport Harbour
      • 457 Portland Bight
      • 462 The Cayman Islands
      • 486 Jamaica and the Pedro Bank
      • 501 South East Approaches to Trinidad
      • 666 Port Mombasa including Port Kilindini and Port Reitz
      • 700 Maiana to Marakei
      • 766 Ellice Islands
      • 868 Eastern and Western Approaches to The Narrows including Murray's Anchorage
      • 920 Chagos Archipelago, Diego Garcia
      • 928 Sulu Archipelago
      • 959 Colson Point to Belize City including Lighthouse Reef and Turneffe Islands
      • 1043 Saint Lucia to Grenada and Barbados
      • 1225 Gulf of Campeche
      • 1265 Approaches to Shatt Al 'Arab or Arvand Rud, Khawr Al Amaya and Khawr Al Kafka
      • 1450 Turks and Caicos Islands, Turks Island Passage and Mouchoir Passage
      • 1638 Plans in Northern Vanuatu
      • 2006 West Indies, Virgin Islands, Anegada to Saint Thomas
      • 2009 Sheet 2 From 23 deg 40 min North Latitude to Old Bahama Channel
      • 2065 Northern Antigua
      • 2133 Approaches to Suez Bay (Bahr el Qulzum)
      • 2373 Bahr el Qulzum (Suez Bay) to Ras Sheratib
      • 2374 Ra's Sharatib to Juzur Ashrafi
      • 2441 Jazireh-ye Tonb-e Bozorg to Jazireh-ye Forur
      • 2658 Outer Approaches to Mina` al Jeddah (Jiddah)
      • 2837 Strait of Hormuz to Qatar
      • 2847 Qatar to Shatt al `Arab
      • 2887 Dubai (Dubayy) and Jazireh-Ye Qeshm to Jazirat Halul
      • 2888 Jask to Dubayy and Jazireh-ye Qeshm
      • 3043 Red Sea, Ports on the coast of Egypt.
      • 3102 Takoradi and Sekondi Bays
      • 3175 Jazirat al Hamra' to Dubai (Dubayy) and Jazireh-ye Sirri
      • 3179 UAE and Qatar, Jazirat Das to Ar Ru' Ays
      • 3310 Africa - east coast, Mafia Island to Pemba Island
      • 3361 Wasin Island to Malindi
      • 3432 Saltpond to Tema
      • 3493 Red Sea - Sudan, Bashayer Oil Terminals and Approaches.
      • 3519 Southern Approaches to Masirah
      • 3520 Khawr Kalba and Dawhat Diba to Gahha Shoal
      • 3522 Approaches to Masqat and Mina' al Fahl
      • 3530 Approaches to Berbera
      • 3709 Gulf of Oman, United Arab Emirates, Port of Fujairah (Fujayrah) and Offshore Terminals.
      • 3723 Gulf of Oman, United Arab Emirates, Approaches to Khawr Fakkan and Fujairah (Fujayrah).
      • 3785 Mina' Raysut to Al Masirah
      • 3907 Bahama Islands and Hispaniola, Passages between Mayaguana Island and Turks and Caicos Islands.
      • 3908 Passages between Turks and Caicos Islands and Dominican Republic
      • 3910 Little Bahama Bank including North West Providence Channel
      • 3912 Bahamas, North East Providence Channel and Tongue of the Ocean
      • 3913 Bahamas, Crooked Island Passage and Exuma Sound
      • 3914 Turks and Caicos Islands and Bahamas, Caicos Passage and Mayaguana Passage
      • 3951 Sir Bani Yas to Khawr al `Udayd

      Don't forget to visit the UKHO Notices to Mariners : NTM for 2013

      So today, for a cost of 9.9 € / month ('Premium Charts' subscription), you can have access to 2588 additional updated charts (4332 including sub-charts) coming from 3 international Hydrographic Services (UKHO, CHS, AHS and France).

    The last dive? Funding for human expeditions in the ocean may have run aground

    Oceanographer Sylvia Earle on
    Why We Need Manned Ocean Explorations

    From Newsweek

    Robots in the Deep Sea : have we hit bottom ?
    Legendary explorer Sylvia Earle is saying goodbye to the ocean floor, but are machines good enough to take her place?
    Tony Dokoupil reports in Newsweek on the robot takeover of ocean science.
    Plus, in a Newsweek exclusive, A-List filmmaker James Cameron takes on Robert Ballard (see Mission Blue) the marine biologist who discovered the wreck of the Titanic.

    Newsweek is up for a fresh start. Now unchained from the pillars of print, the American weekly newspaper is launching its first digital version featuring an animated cover image.
    This is a first in the history of the popular magazine.
    This week’s issue will feature a four-second animation of the descent of the deep-diving submarine Pisces IV.
    The first digital edition carries the headline “Have We Hit Bottom?” which basically chronicles the last deep sea diving expedition to be ever made by humans.
    It also discusses the resistance of legendary explorer Sylvia Earle against the takeover of robots in the field of ocean science.
    Newsweek Senior Writer, Tony Dokoupil, also highlights exclusive interviews with James Cameron. The animation was captured by Hawaii-based photographer, Hugh Gentry, who shot the high-resolution video 120 feet below the sea.
    Newsweek’s foray into the digital world has yet to be judged.
    The magazine hopes that an animated cover will amass more readership and subscriptions.
    Get the full issue today on your iPad and other editions.

fall ends with a thud, our machine hitting the ocean floor, 1,500 feet beneath the Pacific swells.

    It’s mid-morning, five miles off the coast of Hawaii, and the surface world suddenly feels like mere imagination, a theory in a water-logged science journal somewhere.
    Through the small round windows of Pisces IV, one of the deepest-diving subs in the world, our only reality is dark, airless, and teeming with unseen life.
    Ocean Exploration Sylvia Earle
    Legendary explorer Sylvia Earle, pictured in 2012,
    resists the robot takeover of ocean science.
    (Hugh Gentry for Newsweek)

    We are sock-footed and smushed into a seven-foot steel sphere: this writer, the sub’s pilot, and Sylvia Earle, perhaps the most accomplished oceanographer since Jacques Cousteau.

    On the bridge of Calypso is a brass plaque engraved with these words:
    'il faut aller voir. We must go and see.'

    At 77, she is the grande dame of American ocean science and exploration.
    But since the moment we closed the hatch, she’s been grinning like a schoolkid, calling out the changes outside our window: “Blue ... bluer ... blueissimo.” When we hit bottom, she cups her hands over her mouth and peers into the twilight. “Is anybody home?” she calls and, dropping her voice into a cartoonish baritone, answers her own question. “YEESSS,” she says. “ALL OF US.”

    For the next six hours we are skimming the seabed, throwing light on an animal-filled terrain of boulders and slopes, cliffs and ravines.
    We are slimed by passing squid, eyeballed by crabs the size of small dogs, and ignored by fish that walk the ocean floor like something from the pages of Dr. Seuss.

    Officially, we are on the hunt for black coral, the longest-living animal known to science, a predator that kills by slipping over other organisms, like a latex glove over a hand.
    Scientists believe the husk left inside may hold secrets to the path of climate change.
    But this is virgin ocean, never before explored by humankind, and just plain wandering is useful work, too.

    We see military coffee mugs knocked or thrown from American ships during World War II, and the occasional aluminum can, usually Budweiser.
    “The preferred beer of the environmentally unconscious,” says Terry Kerby, the sub’s pilot.
    Lunch is peanut-butter sandwiches and, for one of us, a bolt of fear as water dribbles down the walls of the sub.
    “Condensation,” says Kerby, nonchalant, and we float on until the light falls on a genuine mystery: a white blob on the periphery. Plopped on an outcropping of rock, it looks like a human brain, only the skin is pimpled.
    A dead chicken?
    Kerby radios Pisces V, our sister sub, which is nearby and loaded with scientists.
    They use a robotic arm to scoop up a sample, and one of them later declares the thing, “likely a new species.”

    We may never know, because we may never go back.

    Last spring James Cameron became a modern newsreel hero, diving the Mariana Trench, the Earth’s deepest point, and seeming to signal a new golden age of discovery.
    Virgin Oceanic’s Sir Richard Branson and Sylvia Earle herself, with money from Google chairman, Eric Schmidt, were each developing their own deep-diving machines.
    And this (quite collegial) “race to the bottom” was heralded as the ocean version of NASA’s hand-off to private rocket-makers.
    On with the era of civil inquiry!
    On with individual enterprise!

    Or as Cameron tweeted from the ocean floor, in a message Twitter declared one of 2012’s best moments of “just plain awesomeness”: “Hitting bottom never felt so good.

    But a year later, something far from a golden age has emerged.
    When the public looked away, piloted exploration stopped.
    Schmidt stopped funding Earle.
    Branson’s effort stalled indefinitely.
    Even Cameron ran out of time and money, completing just eight “first phase” dives around Australia and Papua New Guinea.
    Today he says his history-making machine is in his engineering shop in Santa Barbara, Calif., “ready to dive” and available to the science community, but stowed like a moldy wet suit.
    The hoped-for second phase of his work has no committed funding.

    At the same time, government support for ocean exploration has sunk to unprecedented lows.
    The Pisces subs—once part of an arsenal of public ships, submarines, and laboratories that gave American scientists unmatched access to the deep—were defunded the same month Cameron touched bottom.
    As of today, none of those subs is operational, the last extended-stay underwater laboratory was shuttered, and at least 40 percent of the academic fleet is scheduled for retirement in the next decade.

    It’s a record dry spell, the result of budget cuts but also a shift in philosophy, a definitive break in the decades-old debate over whether it’s even necessary to send people into extreme spaces, when machines are cheaper, safer, and harder working.

    “The body is a pain,” says Robert Ballard, the marine geologist who discovered the Titanic, striking a common note about the problems with manned travel.
    “It has to go to the bathroom. It has to be comfortable. But the spirit is indestructible. It can move at the speed of light.” 

    For two decades, he’s been arguing the virtues of “telepresence” technology: remotely controlled subs and rovers, pumping video to an unlimited number of researchers worldwide.
    This year he seems to have finally closed the conversation.
    While the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA) pulled money from manned exploration, Ballard’s telepresence efforts comprise “the only federal program dedicated to systematic exploration of the planet’s largely unknown ocean,” according to NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research.

    “It’s a paradigm shift,” says Ballard, at the University of Rhode Island, a move into “the next great era of exploration.”
    He promises to provide digital access of more of the Earth than was visited by all previous generations combined—“and still be home in time for cocktails.”

    It’s a perspective that mystifies Earle, Cameron, and many others trying to find the funds to maintain piloted exploration of the sea.
    “I love this,” she says, on deck after our dive.
    “It’s obscene that we would let this go. What are we thinking?”

    Scarcely more than a half century ago, neither man nor machine was diving into the sea.
    Then, just as Ballard and Earle were thinking about careers in science, the self-styled “fish man” Jacques Cousteau invented the Aqua-Lung and “diving saucer.”
    Along with the naturalist William Beebe—who dropped a half mile into the sea in a steel sphere on a wire, and resurfaced spouting poetry about the deep—he made Earle and Ballard enthusiasts in the same revolution: members of the first generation to have regular access to life under the waves.

    “The creature who descended from a tree or crawled out of a cave a few thousand years ago,” declared an editorial in The New York Times in the late 1950s, “is now on the eve of incredible journeys.”
    That proved true for a while.
    In 1960 the Swiss engineer Jacques Piccard and a U.S. Navy lieutenant named Don Walsh reached the ocean’s deepest point, shared a Hershey bar, and left after 20 minutes, sure they would soon return.
    The Navy built a second full-ocean-depth bathyscaphe, along with the revolutionary Alvin, the first piloted craft to float across seafloor like a genuine lead zeppelin
    Soon after that, Earle, a graduate student at Duke, became one of the first scientists to use scuba “to see fish, real fish,” she says, not dead fish in a lab, or woolly images in a book.
    Her dissertation on the Gulf of Mexico merited a whole issue in a top biology journal.
    And she steadfastly believed, as Beebe put it before her, that anything short of physically being there is “only what a time-table is to an actual tour.”
    She talked her way onto research vessels, once heading to the Indian Ocean on a trip that garnered her first international headlines, in The Mumbasa Daily Times: “Sylvia Sails With 70 Men, Expects No Problems.”
    Dr. Sylvia A. Earle
    In 1970, Earle and other female “aquanauts” spent two weeks
    in a federally built underwater habitat.
    Back home, the space race took off, and while the heavens dominate national memory, the sea was part of the same boom.
    Newspapers covered the efforts in parallel.
    They wrote of both the “outer space” of the sky and the “inner space” of the ocean, the “splash down” of capsules and the “splash up” of submersibles, along with astronauts and aquanauts, national heroes both.

    Earle was on the equivalent of a moon landing in 1970: a two-week underwater stay in a federally built habitat—one of what would become about 50 worldwide, proving that man, in the grand language of The Washington Post coverage, could “return to his primordial home, readapt and live there successfully.”
    When Earle returned to the surface, she was a celebrity: honored at the White House, paraded around Chicago in an open car, interviewed on the Today show, feted by Rolex, and featured in Life magazine, living in “A Nest of Naiads.”

    Irked by the sexism—editors dubbed her and the other women “aquababes”—Earle nevertheless tried to leverage her celebrity to excite the public about the great frontier of the sea.
    And her own voyages continued.
    She plumbed the Caribbean in an experimental submersible, kicked an aggressive shark in the snout, and went night diving in search of the mysterious coelacanth, a 350-million-year old species of fish thought to have gone extinct until a fisherman caught one.

    In 1979, she dove deeper than any soloist ever had, 1,250 feet, to the bottom of the Pacific, through a shower of luminescent blue creatures.
    She planted an American flag and emerged to prime-time documentaries and a peerless nickname: Her Deepness.

    At the time, Robert Ballard was just another working scientist with a submarine, albeit a great one in the Alvin.
    He remembers the first time he met Earle, in the late 1960s, when she was already a rising star, standing around with Jacques Cousteau; he was a graduate student.

    Like Earle, Ballard grew up reading Beebe and Cousteau, but he loved the fiction of Jules Verne.
    He read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and found an idol in Captain Nemo, a man equal parts “technologist” and “adventurer.”
    As Earle swam with the whales and talked about fish as “songbirds,” Ballard got his Ph.D. in marine geology, joined the Navy, and started tinkering with machines.

    He did a lot of physical exploring as well, but says he hated being away from his own young family, as well as seeing the “carnage” that extended voyages visited on domestic life.
    For more than a decade, as a senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, he spent months a year at sea, exploring the Mid-Ocean Ridge, a 40,000-mile mountain range that encircles the globe.
    One time he crashed into a volcanic rock wall some 20,000 feet under the sea.
    Another time he found himself and his machine stuck in a crevice somewhere.
    Death was always a possibility, but so was heartache.
    Ballard missed being home.
    Ocean Exploration Sylvia Earle
    The Pisces V, one of the eight deepest-diving subs in the world,
    before its final scheduled launch on Dec. 15, 2012.
    (Hugh Gentry for Newsweek)
    In 1977 he made the most famous of several discoveries that swiped away a shelf of established science.
    Sensors being towed some 200 miles off the Galápagos Islands picked up a spike in water temperature, close to the sea floor, where frigid water supposedly ruled.
    Ballard and two other scientists went down in Alvin for a closer look, finding a superhot gash in the earth, spewing shimmering chemicals into the water—and feeding an alien oasis of life.
    Researchers later dubbed these hydrothermal vents “the Garden of Eden”: sparks of existence far from the sun and the air, and maybe the origin of all living things.

    Down on the ocean floor, however, Ballard had an aha moment of a different sort.
    To that point in his career, manned submersibles had led the way.
    Machines were seen as a great help with, say, locating a lost bomb or sunken gear, but science required a human presence.
    Or so ran the conventional wisdom, which Ballard believed was bunk the second he arrived at the vent and saw his colleague’s eyes.

    “What are you looking at?” Ballard remembers asking.

    “The monitor,” the colleague said, referring to the video screen inside Alvin.
    “It’s better than what I’m seeing out the window.”

    That’s when he realized, as he puts it today, “There’s no benefit to having a human body down there.”
    It “wastes money” and “ruins families” and “raises bad kids,” all without a return for science.

    As the years passed and Earle’s profile continued to rise, Ballard felt more than ever that manned exploration was a dying model, “inhumane and unsatisfactory.”
    He stopped exploring, took a sabbatical at Stanford, and started contemplating how to keep himself and others high and dry forever.
    The following year, he came down from the mountain with an idea he believed would drive science and exploration into a new era.
    In the December 1981 issue of National Geographic, he even gave it name: “telepresence."

    Meanwhile, the lingering significance of Earle’s deep dive in 1979 wasn’t the dive itself or even the wave of publicity that followed: it was the boom it produced in manned submersibles.
    For two hours, she walked the sea floor in an inelegant suit she called “a walking refrigerator,” complaining about this historic piece of equipment she was in.
    She particularly hated the machine’s version of hands: “Things just fly right through its jaws! It’s like having a pair of pliers on the end of a stick!”

    It was only later that she realized the man on the other end of the wire—a man there expressly for the job of saving her life should she become trapped or entangled—was also the designer of this machine she seemed to so despise.
    Graham Hawkes was a 32-year-old engineer, owlish and bespectacled, the son of a postman from a self-described “third class” English city, where he had built some of the best submersibles in the world.
    When Earle found this out, she didn’t let up.
    She cornered him on the dock, the pier, drinks, dinner.
    During their whole time together in Hawaii, in fact, all she wanted to talk about was why: why hadn’t he built a sub that could go full ocean depth?

    “Oh, gosh,” Hawkes, remembers saying.
    “Let me count the reasons. First of all, it’s nuts.”
    He then explained the challenges of an ocean that’s dark, cold, corrosive, and doubles the pressure every 30 feet down, pulling objects toward the bottom and almost certain collapse.
    Deep-sea diver and marine biologist Sylvia Earle and engineer Graham Hawkes
    “We didn’t have children, we had submarines,” says Sylvia Earle
    about her marriage to engineer Graham Hawkes.
    (Roger Ressmeyer/Corbis)
    But Earle didn’t let up, and when Hawkes went back to England, he couldn’t shake Earle’s questions, or thoughts of Earle herself.
    She was 12 years his senior, a mother of three, twice divorced, and absolutely spectacular.
    She made him feel, well, “you can make up those words,” he says.
    “You won’t be wrong.”

    Hawkes returned to America for the publication of Earle’s book (Exploring the Deep Frontier) and produced a napkin sketch of a sub he said could go full ocean depth.
    A few months later, he saw her at a conference in San Francisco, and he produced something else he knew would get her attention: his signature on an index card—the work of a new submersible arm, so smooth it was like an extension of the diver inside.

    Not long after that, he came to California to stay, moving into Earle’s rambling house in Oakland Hills, where they got to work trying to open the oceans once and for all.
    “We didn’t have children together,” Earle says proudly, more than 30 years later.
    “We had submarines.”

    They founded two companies, working at first out of a space shared with Earle’s kids, her mother, a turtle, two horses, a swarm of tailless black cats, some rare lizards, and a reliable old Labrador named Blue.
    Hawkes took over a backyard stable.
    Her eldest daughter came home from Berkeley to find the pool commandeered for science: the diving board was gone, replaced by a metal A-frame for dropping new machines into the water, and the bottom was painted pitch black.
    It looked, to the casual observer, like a portal to the deep sea.

    And by 1984 it had become one.
    Hawkes strapped himself into a real one-person machine based on what he had sketched on that napkin, and he dove more than 3,000 feet, establishing a depth record that only James Cameron would beat.
    Earle followed him, establishing a woman’s depth record that still stands today.

    Immediately work began on a full-ocean-depth version of the same machine.
    Hawke ran the tests, and Earle went out looking for funding, selling the device as a step toward the creation of a whole fleet of deep-diving subs, workhorses for science and dream machines for human safari.

    Earle and Hawkes called the project “Ocean Everest.”
    And it was soaring, serious—and well received, with spreads in Popular Science and Popular Mechanics.
    It even inspired a special issue of the flagship journal of the Marine Technology Society (just trust me: a big deal).

    Earle and Graham were married in 1986, and for the rest of the decade each year seemed to be the year the machine would be made.
    But the necessary funding never materialized, and their marriage didn’t survive the pressure test, either.
    “It was really tragic,” says Liz, Earle’s eldest daughter.
    The couple separated in 1990, and Ocean Everest melted into history.
    The tilt of the scientific community was changing as well.
    Ballard, the famed Alvin explorer, had become a national figure, and a persistent critic of human-occupied vehicles.
    At the meeting of one elite science committee or another, he and Earle began to “go at it in front of people,” as he puts it, the start of a fight that hasn’t stopped.
    “She’s at it on a humanistic, almost spiritual, level,” Ballard says.
    “I was raised by Germans.”

    Ballard returned from his walkabout, in the early 1980s, and told the Navy he could beam video up from the ocean floor, forever taking man out of the sea.
    The Navy liked this idea enough to fund it, and between 1982 and 1987 he built the Argo, and then the Jason, two fully remote underwater vehicles, unsleeping electronic eyes in seas.

    He set about proving their worth the simplest way he knew how: finding the Titanic.
    In fact, using his robots, he searched miles of ocean floor, leading expeditions to visit perhaps the three most famous shipwrecks in modern history: not only the Titanic but also the Bismarck and the Lusitania.
    He still went down in submersibles, but in his mind what mattered now were the robots.

    Signs of change were obvious almost right away.

    After separating from Hawkes, Earle accepted the position of chief scientist at the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration, founded in 1970 as a kind of “wet NASA.”
    Her goal, she said at the time, was to put the O (for ocean) back in NOAA.
    But throughout the 1980s and 1990s, support for ocean research fell by almost 50 percent, frustrating Earle, who ultimately resigned in 1992—just as Ballard’s projects began to take off.

    He wired classrooms and auditoriums nationwide, offering schoolkids a virtual journey to the seafloor through the eyes of a $5 million remote-controlled submarine.
    By 2003 he was working with NOAA to build a national network of “exploration command centers,” a hub for shore-based scientists to receive live undersea video and help steer distant expeditions.

    “Mission control” for this network was launched in 2009 at the University of Rhode Island.
    It’s formally called the Inner Space Center, and inside the new building is a giant screen, banks of computers, and feeds of data.
    Teams of scientists sip coffee, disappear snack food, and monitor the deep in real time, the same way NASA’s own group follows its robot on Mars.

    Now Ballard is taking “telepresence” to a new extreme.
    This summer he will launch the first 24-hour-a-day ocean-exploration room, striking partnerships that will triple the number of ships in his fleet.
    “Just in the last couple months,” he says, “the paradigm [of telepresence] has been accepted, and the dam has burst.”
    The ultimate object is to automate the ships, too, so there is no man at sea.

    Ballard defends telepresence in coolly practical terms, but when pressed he also drops into a more personal register, and one can’t help but wonder about his own losses—psychological and interpersonal—during his years at sea.
    Ultimately, he tells me, putting man into the extreme deep is “unnatural”: we have no right to continue it, and no moral ground to make people continue to sacrifice in its name.

    “We’re happiest looking at something green, and a little bit of water, and that’s what I’m doing right now”—Ballard was speaking by phone from his home in Connecticut—“I’m waiting for my daughter to come home, and for my wife, and later we’ll have a glass of wine, and yet in the next room I’ll be able to go down to the bottom of the Mediterranean. I can go anywhere.”

    Though Ballard has soaked up the money (his science-world nickname is “Sponge Bob”), not everyone is on board.
    Chris German is the chief scientist for deep submergence at Woods Hole, which operates the deepest-diving robot in the world, and also the Alvin, the oldest working deep sub in the world.
    Alvin is years behind schedule in a crabbed rebuilding process, but German is planning for its return to the water this May.
    “What’s the best scientific sensor we have?” he says.
    “The human mind. It’s the only thing that sees in 3-D.”
    Ocean Exploration Sylvia Earle 
    Terry Kerby, chief pilot for the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory,
    peers through his deep-sea windshield.
    (Hugh Gentry for Newsweek)
    Bruce Robinson, a senior scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, perhaps the leading all-robotic outfit in the world, compares the view offered by undersea robots to the view through a pipe, and he “firmly” believes that manned submersibles “should play a much larger role in undersea research.”

    At least two national panels have endorsed manned submersibles in the past decade, using words like “linchpin” and “flagship” and pushing for a three-step research process: first, automated machines to dumbly sweep the ocean floor; then remote-controlled eyeballs to take a closer look at everything of interest; and finally humanity to drop down for the ultimate review.
    To put it on a bumper sticker: machines for the questions, people for the answers.

    Sylvia Earle agrees, saying “Ballard’s pony may do its one trick very well, and we should celebrate that, but not discard or scorn other ways to explore the ocean.”
    In the aftermath of her divorce from Hawkes, Earle formed a separate company, and last summer, in the so-called race to the bottom, they found themselves on different teams.
    Hawkes pursued underwater “flight,” applying the principles of aircraft design to the sea.
    The result was DeepFlight, which debuted in the 1990s, was refined, and became Virgin Oceanic’s machine, the chariot of Sir Richard Branson.

    Earle, meanwhile, was close to Cameron and his team.
    The two celebrated his 50th birthday together in 2010 in Russia, diving to the bottom of Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest.
    They were guests of Anatoly Sagalevich, the head of Russia’s Deepwater Submersibles Laboratory, who feted Cameron at a dinner complete with dancing Cossacks and, as a grand finale, a shot of vodka, presented on the blade of a saber.
    (“Only Jim...” Earle says, shaking her head.)

    It was Earle’s company, Deep Ocean Exploration and Research, that built Cameron’s manipulator arm, and pressure-tested the whole lower half of the sub, and all the little parts, says Earle’s daughter Liz, who runs the company.
    It was paid work, she adds, but also (warning: undersea pun ahead) “squid pro quo”: if Cameron made the dive, it would buoy the work of all manned efforts, including Earle’s own.
    When he succeeded, Earle let out a little “yeesss” and Liz “blew a resounding blast on the conch shell horn that lives on my desk.”
    Ocean Exploration Sylvia Earle
    The Pisces 4 submersible descends offshore of Oahu, Hawaii
    for a deep water exploration dive on December 15, 2012.
    (Hugh Gentry for Newsweek)
    Cameron himself has celebrated the dive as a win for human presence.
    “No kid ever dreamed of growing up to be a robot. But they do dream of being explorers,” he wrote in an email. “
    And the quickest way to get even less interest and engagement is to take human explorers out of the vehicles, and have it all done robotically.”

    Richard Branson concurs, striking a characteristically unscientific note in favor of science.
    “You know 99.9 percent of the ocean has not been explored,” he tells Newsweek, “and we’re obviously hoping to discover mermaids down there.”
    The real researchers, meanwhile, are looking to find the beating heart of the planet, the secret of why we even exist, and how we might stay awhile.

    As for Hawkes, when Cameron hit bottom he was thousands of miles away, sailing the South Pacific aboard the super-yacht of venture capitalist Tom Perkins to test a new sub, the Super Falcon.
    “I had a rum and coke aboard Dr. No and tried not to think very much about it,” Hawkes says.
    “We didn’t win. Well, yeah, I’m disappointed.”
    But to him, the new subs are mostly for fun. For science, he’s gone over to Ballard’s side.  

    Which leaves only Earle.
    Last year Eric Schmidt, of Google, declined to give more money to Earle’s effort to build a pair of full-ocean-depth submarines.
    But Her Deepness has rebounded nicely.
    She recently partnered with Global Oceans, a new nonprofit, launching The Global Deep Submergence Project, a last-ditch, best-yet, hail-Mary effort to develop a global resource: a pair of piloted “all-ocean” vessels.
    They have the designs, and the operating plan.
    All they need is about $50 million, less than the cost of two old space-shuttle toilets.

    When we part ways in Hawaii, Earle is in a sunny mood.
    It’s nighttime, and we’re standing on the back of the launch vessel, braving a light rain to talk about the future.
    Christmas lights wave at us from the mast of a nearby fishing trawler.
    “It’s happening,” Earle says of her lifelong push into the deep.
    “This is a sweet spot in time. For the first time we can see what was once impossible to see.”

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