Bringing out Alvin
Fig. 9. Alvin just about to exit the hangar.
Argo was still resting on Atlantis' deck when the first Alvin launch rolled out on Tuesday morning, which dawned bright and warm. Karson, who has gone down in the submarine so many times since 1979 that "I've lost count," he said, was down in the mess eating a pre-dive breakfast of hash browns, oatmeal and fruit.
"It's like another planet down there," he told Robert Waters, that day's Alvin pilot.
Schroeder, who did not show up to eat, was busy with last minute planning for their dive route. He also admitted to the pre-dive jitters. "But I'm going to be excited to see all those rocks down there," he gamely added. After the pair squeezed into the minisub's stubby red conning tower at about 8 a.m., the large A-frame on Atlantis' stern lowered it into a gently rolling Atlantic under the escort of flipper-clad swimmers and the Avon, a red and black motorized inflatable boat with a rigid hull. By 8:12 Alvin had disappeared below the sea surface.
Fig. 10. Jeff Karson and Tim Schroeder (L-R) waiting to dive in Alvin.
Alvin resurfaced at 4:30 p.m. loaded down with rock samples, it's dive cut a little short by drained batteries. "It was a really incredible experience; it's a whole different world down there." said an elated Schroeder, his shirt dripping wet. His shirt was soaked because of a post dive-ritual for Alvin novices. They are drenched with buckets of ice water after stepping off of Alvin's access stairs.
Fig. 11. Tim Schroeder becomes a seasoned veteran.
The following day was John's and Kelley's turn. They also returned with a sample basket full of rocks, and expended batteries. Their video cameras had malfunctioned as well. So had the geocompass and navigational system. But that didn't keep John from getting an icy dousing. Her previous trip on a Japanese research sub didn't count. Kelley, an Alvin frequent diver, was exempt.
The Moving Earth | Faulting | DSL-120 and ARGO-II | Bringing Out Alvin | Thanksgiving Day