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8 Supporting an Ocean Exploration Program MOVING BEYOND THE EXISTING PROGRAM The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Office of Ocean Exploration, which was established in 2000, does not have the wherewithal to undertake the interdisciplinary, global ocean exploration program proposed in this report. Significantly higher allocations are needed to support a more comprehensive program. More money is needed to increase the program's scope, its flexibility, and researchers' access to equip- ment all of which will serve to increase its chances for success. The budget for NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration is indicative of current limitations on U.S. ocean exploration. Initially funded at $4 million in 2001, during ensuing years the program has been funded for $13.2 million and $14.2 million annually. The budget for fiscal year 2004 is in the same range although at the time of publication Congressional support is uncertain. This initial effort has been worthwhile, and it serves as a basis for evaluating what can be accomplished. The effort has been partially pro- posal driven and partially driven by agency mission, without significant thematic direction or input from the scientific community. That aside, some regional workshops have been held to engage more members of the scien- tific community in the office's efforts. Fiscal limitations have constrained NOAA's ability to carry out a com- prehensive exploration program. Critical elements, such as the following, have been compromised by a lack of money: . Postcruise science is not funded. Not all discoveries are made during an actual offshore effort, and some discoveries could be missed if specialized onshore tests cannot be performed. Few sig- nificant discoveries have been announced or exploited. 136
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SUPPORTING AN OCEAN EXPLORATION PROGRAM · Data management is not funded, so the oceanographic research community has little access to information. · Only limited technology development is funded. New sensors, for example, to investigate novel sites or measure unsampled properties of the ocean, are not being developed. · Ship costs are usually leveraged with other planned programs. The resulting ad hoc efforts do not allow complete freedom to explore a particular site or to venture out of relatively well-studied areas to explore the entire world's oceans. Project planning is often for the short term because of the nature of government budgeting and within-agency appropriations. International cooperative efforts are not supported. The scientific community does not see the program as a significant resource of funding for sustained exploration programs. The NOAA effort is not large enough to generate significant discoveries in the ocean sciences nor is it likely to advance the new technologies that could initiate commercial opportunities. Despite its small budget; however, the NOAA program has demonstrated that there is substantial interest from the U.S. ocean research community. The NOAA exploration program has received many proposals that it was unable to fund. EXISTING U.S. ASSETS: MECHANISMS TO INCREASE AVAILABILITY The University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) allocates ships and other research platforms using proposals submitted to the oceanographic research agencies, primarily the National Science Foun- dation (NSF), the Office of Naval Research, and NOAA. If the exploration program is to use existing U.S. assets, an accommodation must be explicitly incorporated into the UNOLS allocation system. Because exploration pro- (J 1 ~ ,, grams will be additions to the current research expedition schedules, addi- tional ship time must be allocated. Since demand fully occupies available UNOLS global class ship time, exploration programs will have to compete for available ships. The proposed fleet capitalization effort should encom- pass exploration-related programs and the special requirements that might be associated with them (Federal Oceanographic Facilities Committee, 20011. Exploration also could be hampered by UNOLS inability to respond rapidly to a discovery because of the lack of availability. Long-term plan- ning and agency commitment, more than a year in advance, is essential to the efficient operation of an oceanographic fleet. Historically, only NSF and 137
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138 EXPLORATION OF THE SEAS the Office of Naval Research have been able to accommodate such plan- ning. The current UNOLS system cannot generally accommodate short- term, short-notice charters. A specially designed ship for exploration programs or the abi I ity to use short-term commercial charters could help al leviate th is problem. Issues of cost and safety also must be addressed to ensure that short- term commercial charters are efficient and safe. Use of some specialized commercial equipment such as remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), autono- mous underwater vehicles (AUVs), human occupied vehicle (HOV), and some laboratory equipment could be made possible by establishing agreements in advance of the need for deployment. This is especially true for portable equipment that can be deployed rapidly to sites anywhere in the world. COST OF OPERATIONS Operational and capitalization costs for three funding scenarios are described in Table 8.1. The minimal program (about $30 million for the first year, including capitalization costs; $30 million for subsequent years' operation) would target just one or two priority themes to be truly success- ful. It might be able to support a long-term program focused on a particular theme, but only if the funding were constant. Capitalization costs would be minimal there would be limited education and outreach and little oppor- tunity to explore extremely remote or hostile locations. All assets would be rented or leased, so advanced scheduling would be essential and there would be only limited opportunity to respond to specific events. Three priority theme areas could be addressed by a program funded according to the middle plan (about $125 million for the first year, includ- ing capitalization costs; about $70 million for subsequent years' operation costs). The program would use two years' ship time with varying capabili- ties, depending on the environment and the themes addressed. Capitaliza- tion would enable the purchase of a dedicated HOV, three dedicated ROVs, and five dedicated AUVs and leasing or renting additional submersible facilities and other equipment. Data management would be state of the art. International efforts could include joint projects. Outreach could occur from shipboard operations and include film and television. Education would include curriculum development and teacher training. The geographic range of operations would be extended to all oceans, but there would still be limited opportunity to respond to rare events. The fully capitalized program (about $270 million for the first year, including capitalization costs; about $110 million for subsequent years'
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SUPPORTING AN OCEAN EXPLORATION PROGRAM 139 TABLE 8.1 Operational Funding Estimates: Program Features Funding Minimal Program Competitive Program Fully Capitalized Program Annual funding About $30 million About $70 million About $110 million Equivalent class 1 ship timea One year Three years Two years plus one year on a dedicated purpose-built ship Numberof exploration themes One Three Several addressed concurrently Environmental conditions Nonhostile Some hostile All oceans Locations Mostly U.S. territories All oceans All oceans International participation Collaborative efforts Cooperative efforts Acceptance of in-kind contributionsb Long-term programs Limited Moderate Moderate Capitalization Minimal Moderate Large Remotely operated vehicles One leased for a Three owned and Five owned and operated full year operated (state of the art) Human occupied vehicles One leased for a One leased for full year; Two leased plus one (HOV)' full year one owned and owned and operated operated Autonomous underwater One leased for a Five owned and Ten owned (state of the vehicles (AUV) full year operatedd art)d Outreach At sea Long-term capacity Long-term capacity building building Development of future Limited Moderate Full program visions (as a percentage of a budget)e Data management Yes Yes and investigate Yes and investigate new methodologies new methodologies aEquivalent class 1 (greater than 250 feet long) ship time/year could be for a single vessel or for several vessels concur- rently for a total of one ship-year on a vessel classified by the University-National Oceanography Laboratory System as class 1. bin-kind contributions could include contributed ship time, professional assistance, technical support, and satellite access. 'HOV leases refer to possible leasing of existing assets as listed in Table 6.1. dCommercial AUVs could be leased, if appropriate. eDynamic new exploration plans will require dedicated resources, feasible only with greater funding.
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140 EXPLORATION OF THE SEAS operation) would focus on several priority themes simultaneously. That program would include year-round use of several exploration platforms and flexibility in scheduling those platforms to best meet program goals. The program-owned fleet would consist of a ship, three HOVs, five ROVs, and ten AUVs. The fully capitalized program's HOVs, ROVs, and AUVs would have a range of water depth capabilities. HOVs would be purchased for shallow-water research ($200,000-$300,000) and for work at depths of 6,500 m ($20 million). ROVs would range in water depth and manipulator capabilities from the relatively inexpensive "observation" types to heavy- work, deep-water units. The costs for those vehicles are discussed later. The program also would have the resources to lease other platforms in specialized environments as needed. With less funding, the program would likely need to schedule the use of different platforms, and it would not have complete control over the scheduling of platforms for exploration projects. Technology development would include sensors and platforms, and out- reach would extend to international capacity building. Annual operating expense estimates were generated using estimates for various costs associated with maintaining the Exploration Program for the Oceans (ExPO) office, supporting the oversight framework, and conducting exploration (Table 8.21. The estimates in Table 8.2 are derived from com- mittee members' experience, the operational costs of comparable programs, and a review of several reports and Web sites. Ship costs, for example, are based on 300-day-per-year use at $20,000 per day approximated from costs for UNOLS for large and global class ships. For 2001, the R/V Reve//e, R/V Melville, R/V Thompson, R/V Knorr, and R/V Atlantis averaged $5.5 million each (National Science Foundation, 20001. One ship-year equiva- lent is projected for the minimal program level. For the competitive pro- gram, two ship-years are proposed. At the fully capitalized level, costs are estimated for the operation of two leased vessels and one owned vessel fully dedicated to ocean exploration. The ExPO office budget figures were esti- mated based on three successive annual budgets (2000-2002) for the Joint Oceanographic Institutions. The expenses include personnel, rent and equipment, miscellaneous office expenses, and hiring outside contractors (including legal assistance for developing international agreements). The budget for submersible equipment and operations (HOVs, ROVs, AUVs) is based on input from the operators of major U.S. oceanographic facilities for submersible science (Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution). For example, a $~.5 million annual budget presented by Richard Pittenger (personal communication) for the National Deep Submergence
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SUPPORTING AN OCEAN EXPLORATION PROGRAM TABLE 8.2 Yearly Cost Estimatesa 141 Minimal Competitive Fully Capitalized Program Program Program Item ($ million) ($ million) ($ million) Shiptime 6.0 12.0 18.0 Exploration Program for the Oceans Office Personnel 1.3 2.6 3.9 Rent and equipment 0.2 0.4 0.6 Office expenses 0.2 0.4 0.6 Outside contractors 0.5 1.0 1.5 Human Occupied Vehicle (HOV), Remotely 6.0 20.0 36.0 Operated Vehicle (ROV), and Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) operations Other shipboard equipment 2.0 3.0 4.0 Data management Information services (10% of budget) 3.0 7.0 11.0 Science support Meetings 0.5 1.0 1.5 Travel 0.5 1.0 1.5 Scientist support 3.5 7.0 10.5 Technology development (10% of budget) 3.0 7.0 11.0 Education and outreach (10% of budget) 3.0 7.0 11.0 Total Operations 29.7 69.4 111 Capitalization Ship 0 0 HOV 0.0 25.0 25.0 ROV 0.0 12.0 20.0 AUV 0.0 15.0 30.0 Other equipment 1.0 3.0 15.0 Total capitalization 1.0 55.0 160 Total program 30.7 124 271 aThese budget values are based upon the committee's best current estimates for technology development of the major infrastructure items, and for operations.
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142 EXPLORATION OF THE SEAS Facility includes the deep submergence vehicle Alvin, the ROV system Jason Il/Medea, DSL 1 20 (towed sonar vehicle), and Argo 11 (towed imaging and mapping vehicle). The operation day varies by platform. HOVs gener- ally have a 1 2-hour operation day; ROVs and AUVs can operate for 1 8-24 hours. At the minimal program level, the annual cost of $6 million is based on $2 million each for one HOV, one ROV, and one AUV. This would enable the operation of each system an HOV, an ROV, or an AUV- deployed on one or several vessels for the equivalent of one ship-year. For the competitive program, the budget includes sufficient assets to be deployed on two ships or their equivalent (Table 8.1, note a): two HOVs, three ROVs, and five AUVs. For the fully capitalized program, at least three complete systems (HOV, ROV, AUV) or "fleets" of AUVs, plus some combination of HOVs and ROVs as dictated by science, would be funded. The cost for other shipboard equipment includes leasing instrumenta- tion and equipment as dictated by a given mission. Data management is estimated at 10 percent of the total operating budget. For comparison, the Ocean Drilling Program spends about 3.4 percent of its budget on data management a figure the committee believes is too low and the Incorpo- rated Research Institutions for Seismology spend about 33 percent on data management which would be too large a proportion of the total ExPO budget. The committee proposes 10 percent of the budget as a realistic figure. The budget includes the costs of sending scientists to and from sea and to meetings to present findings. It also includes salaries for scientists while at sea as well as for some follow-up time after cruises. It includes costs for sample and data analysis. Neither ExPO nor the Ocean Drilling Program is designed to do the science associated with collecting samples and data at sea; they would collect, catalog, and describe the samples. Sufficient funding must be allowed for data archival and for publishing results. Some funding should be made available for postcruise scientific studies to facilitate and develop hypotheses for the discoveries made during ocean cruises. It is assumed that an ocean exploration program will require regular, extensive technical development to ensure program success. Ten percent of the annual budget is allocated for technology development. For com- parison, NSF budgets about $10 million annually for technology develop- ment in ocean sciences (A. Isern, personal communication). The education and outreach budget is 10 percent of the annual appro- priation, following NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration's current budget profile. The committee believes this is appropriate, particularly for the competitive and fuliv capitalized programs.
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SUPPORTING AN OCEAN EXPLORATION PROGRAM INITIAL CAPITALIZATION The success of the exploration program will depend on the capital assets available (Table 8.21. The most obvious question is whether the program will own (or contract for a long-term charter) a flagship and, if it does, what its specifications should be. Other assets should include submersibles of various types ROVs, AUVs, and HOVs and specialized laboratory equipment that will allow shipboard processing of data. The advantages of ownership are obvious: it is better to have a fleet that is available on short notice and to have access to equipment that is suitable for use in a particular area or environment. An exploration flagship is recommended to maximize program capa- bilities; ensure access and scheduling flexibility; and allow for well-integrated, ship-based education programs. Although the initial expense can be daunt- ing, at least one government report has shown that purchasing a vessel is more cost effective than is long-term leasing (U.S. General Accounting Office, 19991. The ocean exploration vessel should be equipped with a state-of-the-art ROV, a state-of-the-art HOV, and at least one state-of-the-art AUV. The estimated cost for such a flagship would be $70 million to $80 million. Ship capitalization assumes that a UNOLS large or global class ship will be required to sail in all oceans. Limited ice strengthening of the vessel also is assumed. The cost estimates were obtained from the Federal Oceanographic Facilities Committee (2001) ($70 million). The flagship should be capable of: · state-of-the-art navigation and broadband communications for all oceans; · Class 2 dynam ic position i ng; · simultaneous ROV and HOV activities; HOV capabilities to 6,500 m; ROV and AUV capabilities to 6,500 m; and state-of-the-art sampl i ng. More specific equipment requirements should be determined by a select interdisciplinary committee. To ensure a competitive, cost-effective vessel selection process, the ExPO office should consider issuing a request for proposals for vessel procurement and the ship should be operated by UNOLS. Bids would likely include new and retrofit vessels, and cost-effectiveness would be considered in selecting the final contract. Therefore, those equip- ment capital costs are not estimated in this report. Capitalization require- ments also would depend on the assets reliably available from UNOLS. 143
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144 EXPLORATION OF THE SEAS Any project need to investigate below 6,500 m water depth is not expected to represent a significant portion of the exploration effort. Until recently, full-ocean-depth requirements for an ROV could have been met by existing equipment (Japan Marine Science and Technology Center, 20031. Recently, the full-ocean-depth Kaiko was lost. At a development cost estimated at $60 mi 11 ion (National Research Counci 1, 1 996), a Kaiko-equivalent would represent a considerable proportion of the proposal capital budget. This one piece of equipment might not be used a significant amount of time during the program. The cost of building a full-ocean-depth HOV capable of reaching the approximately one percent of ocean floor below 6,500 m are estimated to be three to five times that for a 6,500 m HOV and are not included here. Capitalization costs for ROVs depend on several factors, and they can vary dramatically from one system to another, even among ROVs of the same class (Box 8.11. The most important considerations for estimating costs for those systems involve the variables of mission requirement, operat- ing depth, and support vessel, which should result in detailed specifications (Table 8.31. The cost to build a 6,500 m ROV was estimated at $4 million a, which was based on the cost ($3.7 million) of the Jason 11 (R. Pittenger, personal communication). Where possible, AUVs for exploration purposes should use commercial capabilities (on short- or long-term charters) because considerable experi- ence is required to achieve reliable mission success. For example, the Hugin 3000 AUV, manufactured by Kongsberg-Simrad and operated by C & C Technologies, Inc., is successfully used for high-resolution geophysical surveys. Significant costs are associated with the capitalization and devel- opment of AUVs with sophisticated or deep-water capabilities. The cost of the Hugin 3000 is $3.5 million (C. Hancock, personal communication) with an expected additional $2 million (T. Chance, personal communication) in added costs to fully outfit the system. It costs about $3 million more each year to maintain the Hugin 3000. Other AUVs with less sophisticated requirements, such as the Bluefin and the Autonomous Benthic Explorer, require less initial capital (about $2 million) and are suggested as sufficient for water column and limited benthic studies. HOV use in an exploration program is expected to vary from shallow water to deep water. Many archaeological studies use shallow-water HOVs such as Seamagine's Seamobile (Seamagine Hydrospace Corporation, 2001; Bass, 2002), which costs $200,000 to $300,000. Programs that focus on a continental shelf or slope could use mid-depth-range submersibles, such as the Hawaii Underwater Research Laboratory's Pisces and the Harbor Branch
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SUPPORTING AN OCEAN EXPLORATION PROGRAM 145 Mission requirements determine the amount of power that must be transmitted to an ROV as well as the specialized tooling, video, navigation, and sensor and sampling equipment required (Table 8.31. This in turn determines the number and size of power conductors, fiber-optic cables, and armoring, which affect the complexity, overall diameter, and weight of the umbilical. Manipulators run, for example, the full range from simple joystick-controlled grabbers to more costly, complex, and sophisticated systems that use master-slave control functions for great dexterity and multiple tool options. Consideration must be given to the amount of spares to be carried onboard. For an ROV system with worldwide operational capability far from shore- based support, the amount of spares and test and repair equipment could be a significant cost factor. The operating-depth requirement determines the length and characteristics of the umbilical and the surface handling system, including the winch used to store, launch, and recover ROVs. It also will determine the packaging of instrumentation and ROV components, such as buoyancy, electronics housings, and other pressure-resistant components the cost of which is affected by depth. The support vessels must be considered in the cost analysis. Costs to mobilize and permanently install large ROV or HOV systems with very deep capabilities can be significant and are part of the overall capitalization. Placement of the system, including the launch and recovery equipment and control centers, can require expensive vessel modifica- tions. Special consideration also might need to go to building over-boarding systems to allow for launch and recovery in rough seas. For smaller, lighter, and less-depth-capable portable "flyaway" systems designed for opportunistic use aboard a range of vessels, there will be an operating (noncapital) cost each time the system is mobilized and installed and then Reinstalled, demobilized, and refurbished. The support vessel options and geographic flexibility attributed to this type of system must trade off against the lesser capability, but they certainly are appropri- ate for a significant number of applications. TABLE 8.3 Capitalization of Commercial Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) ROV Class Task Depth (m) Horsepower Approximate cost ($ million) Observation Observation 300 1-20 0.01-0.10 Medium Observation, medium work 2,000 25-50 1-2 Heavy Heavy work 3,000 75-150 2.5-3.5
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146 EXPLORATION OF THE SEAS Oceanographic Institution's Johnson-Sea-Link submersibles. For deeper HOV applications, the United States can only reach a depth of 4,500 m. Russia, Japan, and France have better capabilities (Table 6.1~. Plans are being discussed to enhance the deep-submergence fleet. Currently, the National Research Council's Committee on Future Needs in Deep Submer- gence Science is reviewing deep-submergence needs for NSF; the final report is expected in 2003. The cost of a 6,500 m water depth HOV is estimated at $20 million (R. Pittenger, personal communication). Finding: Access and flexibility are necessary to implement an ocean exploration program. Although assets for oceanographic research exist, a new ocean exploration program that seeks to enhance the current efforts, as proposed in this report, will require substantial assets. New oceanographic assets would increase the effectiveness of the program, while minimizing interference with current research en- deavors. Recommendation: To undertake a truly large-scale, ocean exploration program that would incorporate the disciplines discussed in this report, a specialized, dedicated flagship, and a modest fleet of underwater vehicles should be provided. Such a program would require first-year funding of approximately ~i270 million. Thereafter, annual operating costs would be about 51 10 million. A more moderate program, operat- ing fewer assets, could be operated for approximately ~i70 million annually. Finding: The scope of the proposed ExPO office will depend on annual funding. An important new ocean exploration program can be under- taken at various levels, and estimates of the return on that investment should be made accordingly. If funds are limited, the theme areas the program seeks to address should be scaled back. This apportionment of program initiatives will help ensure support for postcruise data analysis and data bank maintenance and support. In any such initia- tive, the input of the research community should be sought to assist in identifying necessary trade-offs. The ExPO office should be respon- sible for implementing program activities and operations congres- sional earmarking can obstruct program integrity and success. With broad, interdisciplinary involvement, open forums for discussion of program goals and choices, and accountable management of the pro- gram, a large-scale, international ocean exploration initiative is likely
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SUPPORTING AN OCEAN EXPLORATION PROGRAM to succeed in providing economic, scientific, and environmental ben- efits for all. Recommendation: Especially at the lower levels of funding presented in this report, the efficient, effective use of resources must be ensured and should involve the following: · decision-making should be informed by the research community, program managers and administrators, and legislators; and · a clear statement of program goals must be used to drive the choices of capitalization. 147
Representative terms from entire chapter: