A Dive on the NR- 1 Submarine

Rendevous at Sunrise

by gene carl feldman

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For the first time in days, the sun rose clear and bright in the eastern sky, while little except for the pelicans could be found around Key JASON. From the top of the JASON communications tower, it was obvious that the sea had calmed down from the previous day and the prospects for a relatively calm transfer to the Carolyn Chouest and ultimately to the NR-1 looked good.

Along with the Jon Howland and the skipper of our shuttle boat, I was accompanied on this trip to the Carolyn by Sherman Blalock and Chris Broyles who were responsible for setting up the RF link between the ship and Key JASON. This link allows the students at JASON PIN sites to remotely control of the underwater ROV and makes possible real-time communications between the ship and the internet. It is amazing to think that you can be 10 miles at sea on a rolling ship, and be able to surf the internet.

As we left the dock, we passed by the other JASON shuttle boat that was going to transport a film crew from the BBC television program Newsround. These folks were here to film some of the JASON activities and actually became the first members of the foreign news media to get onboard and film the NR-1. As the song says, ...the times, they are a changin'. As we made the final turn before heading out into the open Atlantic, we were treated to a beautiful, tropical sunrise.

The trip from Key JASON to the Carolyn Chouest takes about 20-30 minutes in calm weather (approximately 8 nautical miles offshore). The skipper kept in constant communication with the ship to let them know our position and expected arrival time to better coordinate the transfer. The first few miles were quite smooth but as we got further offshore, away from the shelter of the land, the waves began to pick up and the boat started flying off the tops of the wave crests, threatening to knock the fillings out of our teeth and reaffirmed the saying "one hand for yourself, and one hand for the ship".
When we got within 2 miles of the Carolyn, the skipper stopped the boat and requested permission to approach the ship. A security zone is established around the Carolyn during submarine support operations to prevent wayward ships from straying into the area and potentially endangering the NR-1 which as you can see in the photo on the right, is not very easily seen from afar.

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Gene Carl Feldman (gene@seawifs.gsfc.nasa.gov ) (301) 286-9428
Todd Carlo Viola, JASON Foundation for Education (todd@jason.org)
Revised: 16 April 1996