CHENNAI: The Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle (ROV) of the National Institute of Ocean Technology’s research vessel ‘Sagarnidhi’ is likely to begin on September 12 its underwater search of the 15 possible locations of the debris of the Indian Air Force transport aircraft AN32, which went missing along with 29 crew aboard on July 22.
Defence sources told Express that of the 15 locations, they could zero it down further in the search operations by ROV, which can go to the depth of 3,500 metres. The 15 locations were zeroed in on from 150 probable locations, which had variables in depth while using multi-beam echo sounder and side scan sonar by both research vessels Sagarnidhi and the Geological Survey of India’s vessel Samudra Ratnakar.
Only National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) has the ROV, which can go down to such a depth. It is learnt that ROV-ROSUB 6000, designed and developed at the NIOT, in joint collaboration with Experimental Design Bureau of Oceanological Engineering, Russia, has already been successfully tested at a maximum depth of 5,256 m, where it sampled manganese nodules in the Central Indian Ocean Basin.
The underwater vehicle has six degrees of freedom and is operated and controlled from a surface station. It is propelled and controlled by seven thrusters, which have speed controllability and reversibility. The controls are guided by the information from feedback sensors, which collect data on the ambient environment and supply it to a host computer in control console.
The data is filtered, processed and used as an input to computer software developed in LabView, which generates corresponding control signals to enable the ROV to perform the manoeuvres. Sources said that each probable location (15 of those which were selected) would take the ROVs at least two days to study. So it is unlikely that all 15 locations would be searched, said sources. The cameras would scan the area and would take pictures and capture the videos of the locations, which had been scanned by both Sagarnidhi and the Geological Survey of India’s vessel Samudra Ratnakar. The biggest handicap for the search operation is that neither the emergency locator transmitter nor the sonar locating beacon (SLB) is functional. Meanwhile, a meeting has been called for Tuesday to work out a strategy on how to go about the search operations, sources said.