scheduling should be flexible. A few UNOLS vessels satisfy these criteria. Present estimates are that a vessel designed for coastal oceanography would cost $12 million to build and equip. At least one group of institutions is proceeding independently to design its own ship in this class. UNOLS is cognizant of the need for a coordinated plan to reduce any redundant effort concerning new coastal research ships.
A broad range of submersible systems is available from the government or can be leased commercially. Since 1964 the Alvin, capable of operating to a depth of 4,000 meters, has given scientists a presence in the deep sea. Alvin is valuable to scientists who conduct research in the water column or study processes at the seawater-seafloor boundary. WHOI operates Alvin as a national facility, with sponsorship by an interagency agreement among NOAA, ONR, and NSF.
The Navy (Submarine Development Group One) operates the Sea Cliff (capable to 6,000 meters) and Turtle (to 3,000 meters) in support of Navy operations and research. Sea Cliff and Turtle have been used minimally by the academic community. Sea Cliff is the only U.S. submersible available to scientists that can operate at depths to 6,000 meters. An agreement among the Navy, NOAA, and UNOLS will improve the coordination and use of Navy deep submergence assets for academic research. Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution owns and operates two Johnson Sea Link (1,000 meters) submersibles, which have been used intensively by academic researchers, government, and industry.
Unmanned, tethered, remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), which for some time performed ocean engineering tasks largely for the offshore oil industry, appear to be gaining acceptance and use by ocean researchers. Some ROVs are less expensive than manned submersibles and allow long submerged endurance times, making them attractive tools for some tasks vis-à-vis manned submersibles.
The Floating Instrument Platform (FLIP), operated by SIO, fills scientific needs for a stable platform in rolling seas. It has been used for studying acoustic signals, surface and internal wave properties,