Gregory R. Trauthwein

In my business it’s generally difficult (and unwise) to pick favorites, but I must admit that the ‘Subsea Vehicles’ edition is a perennial favorite of the MTR editorial staff, as vehicle tech and capabilities evolve at an increasingly rapid pace.

There are seemingly endless story threads on which to build this edition, and I’m please for this one that I could take a deeper dive into the activities as Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. WHOI is legendary in this industry for its subsea exploration and discovery prowess, and central to its work are its fleet of crewed and uncrewed submersibles. Last month I had the opportunity to visit via video interview with Andy Bowen, ocean engineer and director of the National Deep Submergence Lab, and Bruce Strickrott, an Alvin Pilot, to discuss the WHOI fleet. You can read the excerpt or watch the full interview on Marine Technology TV.

While the edition focus is on the vehicle, the industry focus is much wider, as the vehicles, as sophisticated as they are, are simply a cog in the machinery to explore, discover and learn about the cumulative ocean ecosystem. More important than ever are the ability to work longer and smarter underwater, with increased ability to effectively, efficiently communicate the data real time to scientists and stakeholders on the ocean’s surface or on land.

Ultimately though, the vehicles and advanced systems onboard are enabling access for a much broader base than ever possible before. Gone are the swashbuckling days of a handful of explorers tasked with exploring the depths and shaping the narrative for the world. And while ‘uncrewed’ is the mantra and direction for many, I was particularly struck by one quote from Bruce Strickrott in the WHOI interview when he put in perspective the impact of uncrewed vehicles on the future of crewed missions:

“I could tell you a million stories about what I've seen by just taking people out to sea and enabling them to do their research; that experience changes people's lives. I think the big thing that I've seen is how these technologies enable people to discover, or to think of problems in a different way. All of the advances that are happening will continue to open opportunities for people to think outside the box relative to global scale problem solving. And I think that's where the blue economy is built around.”

Gregory R. Trauthwein

Publisher & Editorial Director

December 2022