AUVs, advanced imaging herald 'new frontier' in ocean exploration

August 05, 2019 // By Rich Pell
AUVs, advanced imaging herald 'new frontier' in ocean exploration
A robotic ocean exploration team using advanced 3D imaging and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) have discovered the remains of a WWII U.S. submarine as part of an ongoing "Lost 52 Project" - a long-term exploration and underwater archeological project documenting and preserving the story of the 'Lost 52' WWII submarines.

The bow of WWII Submarine USS Grunion (SS-216) was discovered in 2700 feet of water off the Aleutian Islands, Alaska using a combination of AUVs and advanced photogrammetry imaging. These new technologies and methods, say the explorers, are at the forefront of underwater business technology and forging a new frontier in subsea exploration.

"This goes so far past video or still imagery, it truly is the future of recording historical underwater discoveries," says ocean explorer and CEO of Tiburon Subsea, Tim Taylor, who coordinates his discoveries with the Naval History and Heritage Command . "Spending minimal time on site collecting a comprehensive 3D historical baseline model allows archaeologists and historians to spend months back home performing detailed research."

The project is taking the large data sets collected on their discoveries and having them processed into 3D archaeological photogrammetry models. This approach extracts geometric information from equipment that is already integrated in most of the modern underwater remote filming systems, advancing imagery collection into high-quality 3D data sets that will be used in archaeological research, historical archives, virtual and augmented reality, and educational programs and applications.

USS Grunion was a Gato-class submarine commissioned on April 11, 1942 under the command of Lieutenant Commander Mannert L. Abele. On its way through the Caribbean to its first posting in Pearl Harbor, it rescued 16 survivors from USAT Jack, which had been torpedoed by a U-boat. Sent to the Aleutian Islands in June 1942, the submarine operated off Kiska, Alaska, where it sank two Japanese patrol boats. Ordered back to the naval operating base in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, on July 30th, the submarine was never heard from again.

The USS Grunion expedition is part of the ongoing "Lost 52 Project" supported in part by STEP Ventures and has been recognized by JAMSTEC (Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology) as the first and most comprehensive offshore underwater archaeological expedition in Japanese waters. This expedition

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