Device To Help Agency In Underwater Searches
Cynthia M. Ellis, The
Telegraph (April 5, 2004)
|Twin Rivers Search and Rescue receive
Nova Ray operator training from Karl Kunkle, QA Manager
EAST ALTON -- An anonymous donation helped make a big splash
in assisting Twin Rivers Search and Rescue.
The search-and-rescue organization, which assists law enforcement
and medical professionals in water rescues throughout the
year, is getting a little help of its own, said Peggy Williams,
vice president of the organization.
Williams said a submersible remotely operated vehicle,
called a Nova Ray, was donated to the organization at the
end of last month.
"We are really excited," Williams said. "We
have the first one in the country."
The taxi cab yellow ROV with its pectoral "wings"
looks more like a manta ray rather than a piece of high-tech
camera equipment. The 55-pound piece of equipment can be
operated by a single pilot and is assisted by onboard computer
software. It can operate in water at speeds up to 9 knots
and at depths near 300 meters.
Williams said Twin Rivers, along with Alton Volunteer Emergency
Corps, trained briefly on the ROV. The two have an automatic
mutual aid agreement.
"There were a few members that took a daylong course
on how to work it," she said.
She said the class, in which several members were certified
on the equipment, was held at the YWCA and along Alton Riverfront
Park in March. On Sunday the search and rescue group took
the ROV out again near the Alton Marina.
The Nova Ray surveys underwater sites and transmits video
images to an operator. On the front of the unit a camera
sits behind a curved piece of glass and sends images up
through a digital communications link. The system also includes
scanning sonar and tracking systems.
"This equipment can be more efficient than divers,"
Williams said. "It can stay underwater for an indefinite
period of time and can detect things in the mud."
Rescuers using the Nova Ray can record and document everything
that is detected below the waters surface.
"Everything is recorded on a disk," Williams
The Nova Rays price tag is $55,000 plus. It was specifically
developed by a company in Washington state, Nova Marine
Exploration Inc., so that it could be used in high-current
environments. The exploration company surveys, documents
and recovers shipwrecks.
Also since the catastrophic events on Sept. 11, 2001, the
exploration company doubled its efforts in remote-operated
vehicle development to meet the needs of homeland security,
specifically port security and pipeline inspections.
Williams said one of the best things about the system is
"It comes in three luggage-size containers,"
The system, which is 39 inches long and 47 inches wide,
is equipped with a digital camera, sensors that give water
temperature, lights and a 100-meter umbilical cord that
easily packs into two large luggage containers. The computer
is in a smaller third one.
Williams said the rescue organization was pleased to get
such an enormous donation.
"We know this equipment cost a lot of money and we
are just really grateful," she said.
Twin Rivers has been serving the community and educating
the public for more than 44 years. The group incorporated
in September 1958. The original name of the group was the
Wood River Township Volunteer Emergency Corp Inc. and the
name was changed in March 1986.
Williams said the organization is also looking for volunteers.
"We are getting into boating season, and now more
than ever we need volunteers," she said.
Those interested in finding out more can call 258-0440.
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