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Meteor Blog 11. August: Meet the ROV-Team

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Hardly anything would happen on Meteor expedition M76/3b without these guys: the nine creative and technically gifted men of the ROV team who are introduced by GLOMAR student Christina Bienhold in today's blog.

Planetearth Blog

Does the biodiversity of deep-sea organisms play a role for the climate on Planet Earth? Questions all about marine research will be answered directly aboard of the German research vessel Meteor by cruise leader Prof. Antje Boetius and her crew. In cooperation with the geoportal from 17.08.08 to 24.08.08 they contribute a Science-Blog of METEOR expedition M76/3 GUINECO – MARUM research of fluid and gas seeps on the Westafrican continental margin. Technical highlight of the cruise is the remote-controlled under water robot QUEST4000 by MARUM that will be deployed for taking fauna and sediments samples and conduction of in situ experiments. Go on a dive down to places no other human being has ever seen before: explore the fascinating deep-sea fauna and watch the scientists’ work at gas and fluid seeps deep down on the ocean bottom.

Expedition M76/3b is a collaboration of MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences at Bremen University and its associated institutes MPI and AWI as well as the French research institute IFREMER and the University of Paris.

More Informationen of the Meteor-Blog, an overview of all contributions to the blog and expedition M76/3B:

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11. August 2008 (Author: Christina Bienhold)

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11. August: shiptrack

Meet the ROV team!

Christina BienholdToday’s BLOG is again contributed by GLOMAR student Christina Bienhold (see BLOGS from 17.07. and 3.08), and she will introduce some members of the ROV-team.

11. August: Bild 1

Picture 1: The ROV team of the cruise leg M76/3B. From left to right: Nicolas Nowald, Hoang Anh Mai, Philipp Franke, Volker Ratmeyer, Michael Reuter, Daniel Hüttich, Marcel Zarrouk, Marc Viehweger, Jörn Patrick Meyer.

The ROV QUEST team (ROV = remotely operated vehicle) on board consists of nine people (picture 1), who are responsible for everything concerning the Quest 4000 (picture 2, and also see blog from 18.07.). 11. August: Bild 2This includes technical support, planning of dives, large and small repairs, video technology and also steering (flying) the ROV, and taking samples at the bottom using the manipulators (ROV arms). Their work is essential for a cruise like this one, where we are exploring small and highly fractured habitats of the deep sea, at over 3000 meter water depth. Today I would like to introduce three of the team members.

Picture 2: The ROV (remotely operated vehicle) Quest 4000m, operated by the Marum in Bremen.

Interview with Jörn Patrick Meyer

11. August: Bild 3Picture 3: Jörn Patrick Meyer standing next to the winch, on which the ROV cable is stored.

What is your task in the ROV team?

On this cruise I am working as a pilot and I am also responsible for repairs on the ROV.

What is your regular job on land?

I am a technician at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen.

What did you study?

I studied industry electronician. This profession is now named “mechatronician” indicating that I work with mechanics and electronics.

On how many cruises have you been?

This is my fifth cruise. I have been to the Baltic Sea, two times in the Mediterranean, one time in the Black Sea and now off of West Africa with the M76/3B cruise.

What is the biggest challenge for you on board?

There are always new situations we are confronted with, and we have to try to find solutions from a limited amount of possibilities. Tools and spare parts on board are limited and you cannot just go to the next hardware store to buy something. But there is no “this is not possible”.

Interview with Marcel Zarrouk

11. August: Bild 4Picture 4: Marcel Zarrouk

What is your job in the ROV team?  

I am pilot and also responsible for software, electronics and video technology.

What is your job on land?

My work is completely dedicated to the ROV. Since 2004 I have a job at the Marum as a ROV technician.

What did you study?

I have a diploma in engineering and studied in the field of product development. An emphasis during my studies was microelectronics, which I can now use for my work with the ROV.

How many times a year are you at sea and how many cruises have you done?

I usually have 2-3 expeditions a year and this is my 13th cruise. I have been mainly working in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean but also in the Arctic.

What is the biggest challenge on board?

The technical problems, which challenge us over and over again. And then trying to cope with them, and to be prepared for them.

Interview with Volker Ratmeyer

11. August: Bild 5Picture 5: Volker Ratmeyer in front of the ROV. On this picture you can see the two manipulator arms of the ROV. The “Orion” on the left, it has lots of joints and is very flexible. On the right the “Rigmaster” which is less flexible but has more power.

Volker Ratmeyer is the leader of the ROV team. He is responsible for the whole coordination of the ROV system.

What are your jobs in the ROV team?

I coordinate the ROV scheduling and the scientific use of this system. With our work we try to find technical solutions for scientific questions. On board I am responsible for the overall deployment plan and also the planning of every single dive in cooperation with the scientists involved. Furthermore I am of course involved in the technical support of the ROV and also work as a pilot.

And what are you doing on land?

My main job is the coordination of the complete ROV system, scheduling of deployments is usually done 1-1,5 years in advance. Technical support, upgrades etc. are part of my regular job at the Marum in Bremen.

What is your educational background?

I am geologist and completed my doctoral thesis in the faculty of Marine Geology in Bremen. I am still involved in a scientific project of MARUM, which is the project B3 (biogeochemistry, particle transport in the deep sea), where I am one of the project leaders.

How many cruises have you participated in?

Oh, I cannot even count this anymore… But it must be over 30 expeditions by now. I usually go to sea 1-3 times a year.

What is the biggest challenge for you in this job?

The ROV system does not use standard technology. For most parts, like the glass fibers, hydraulics, network, pressure adaptation, we use state-of-the-art technology and work with special solutions that have been developed for working in the deep sea. To keep the system working at over 3000 m water depth it has to endure extreme conditions, which is a big challenge also for the devices. For myself the biggest challenge is to keep the system in an operational status. On this cruise for example we have many technical problems that need to be worked on around the clock.

What was one of the most memorable events on your past cruises?

The first deployment and use of our high resolution HDTV camera was very impressing. At the end of 2006 it had its first deployment in the Mediterranean Sea and we filmed deep-sea coral; that was extremely fascinating.

Unfortunately we have a lot of technical problems on this cruise, but we could already solve many of them. I am glad that I have such a good, enthusiastic and motivated team with me that works together well. Otherwise it would not be possible to keep the ROV running.

Thanks to Patrick, Marcel and Volker and many greetings home.