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Metal Discriminator Integration Testing Completed Plus So Much More!
It has been a busy summer with the Good Fortune SeaSearcher team going out at every possible opportunity to scan, dive, explore, and mark targets. We are pleased that the metal discriminator on SeaSearcher 2 has completed training and integration testing. We are excited at this milestone and will share our results as we transition to free flight scanning. Last week, the conditions at the surface were nearly perfect for scanning as the Good Fortune took one of the company’s longest and most loyal friends out for the day in the middle of our area.
Anyone who knows Florida knows the weather has been a big player this past month and will continue to be a major factor for the rest of the summer and into the fall. The last hurricane that went up the coast muddied the water enough that the Good Fortune and Discovery divers have had nearly zero visibility recently. But, as with any issue that comes up, we adapt our daily missions to accommodate and continue to make progress. For example, the conditions were bad enough that the SeaSearcher team had to establish a new test range nearly 4 miles from shore to get good enough visibility to serve as the new feature test area. And then there are always the thunderstorms that chase us around the ocean in the afternoons.
While we can not get into specifics at this time, one of the exciting categories of recent finds is that we are getting into material that our project archaeologists concluded likely comes from the bottom decks of the ship and/or the lower hull. This material would be the gun deck or cargo area. The entire team is excited about this because it brings the scatter pattern of the wreck into better focus. The analytics team has been working diligently to map out the new finds, merge it with pre-existing data, and adapt our wreck and sensor models to direct the scanning and exploration.
Now that the metal discriminator has completed integration on the SeaSearcher, we have also set a date to visit and map out the Juno Beach site with the SeaSearcher. The logistics planning is also well underway for this near-term trip. The Good Fortune team will lead the initial survey in Juno Beach while the Discovery team continues its work in Melbourne Beach. In preparation, we have modified the SeaSearcher to allow for swifter currents, deeper waters, and more rugged bottom terrain. We also look forward to Juno Beach’s excellent visibility and being able to finally use the camera on the front of the SeaSearcher as it streams live during the mission.
Speaking of Juno Beach, we figured we would share a few of the beautifully conserved artifacts from the site. These are all items that were retrieved and logged in 2014 or earlier under permit #2011.01. The conservation of these artifacts and the analysis of the concretion was an important component in the algorithm development for the SeaSearcher for Juno Beach.
In closing, this is a busy time for our highly integrated and motivated team of divers, archaeologists, captains, geologists, conservationists, analysts, site strategists, and developers as we continue to work Melbourne Beach and plan Juno Beach again. We feel very fortunate that the entire team has remained healthy and has not been affected by COVID-19 despite working hard every day. As always, we share what we can when we can and will continue to do so.
SeaSearcher In Its Full Glory
While we were doing the final tests on the metal discriminator for SeaSearcher #2, the Good Fortune crew took SeaSearcher #1 out for a day of glamour shots. Normally we don’t show the SeaSearcher in its full glory. But on this day, SeaSearcher #1 was already dressed up for the visit from Senator Mayfield. Remaining fully functional, this flexible soft hull you see provides a streamlined profile for flying her through the water without the bulk of the harder bolt-on hull some have seen in other pictures. All of the sensors are still on board, they are just covered with the thin flexible membrane skin. It also allows us to share some of these fantastic photos of the SeaSearcher in action. The SeaSearcher naturally floats. This is so we can just cut the thrusters at any time and it just floats to the surface. So, to start the descent to the bottom, it’s full vertical thrusters down to our target depth of about 40-60’. As we break the surface of the water to descend, the SeaSearcher takes flight more like an airplane to the bottom where we engage the altitude hold and begin flying her along the bottom. Normal visibility is near zero. So to see the SeaSearcher out in the wild like this is a beautiful sight even for those of us that take her out every day. Even the fish do not seem to care and just go about their business. The divers had fun getting shots of the SeaSearcher flying over and around them as she did her work. Sometimes, when she slowed down enough, the divers were able to swim behind the SeaSearcher and even catch a ride. After having some fun taking video and swimming around, it was time to head to the surface, load up, and head to another area for real work. Was this a photo op? Yeah, it was. But a really cool one! We were just glad to be able to show you the equipment we use every day and how proud we are of her in action. If you like these photos, check back in a few days for the videos.
SeaSearcher Free-Flying With The New Metal Discriminator
We all look forward to this time of year when the water is clearer, and the seas are calmer. Over the past few weeks, the SeaSearcher team has been hard at work in the ocean scanning and qualifying the metal discriminator. The plan is to complete tests without a diver escorting the SeaSearcher and go operational within the next few days. When not scanning or testing, the team explored an interesting structure and marked it for future investigation. This type of elevated structure is rare for the Melbourne area. We also took advantage of the clear conditions for the archaeology team to document an already known period cannon that is on-site. It made for good training and is one of many artifacts they will be documenting over the next several weeks. We will bring you more pictures as they do. The Discovery team was also out exploring. More on them in the next post.
Testing The New Metal Discriminator and Extracting Core Samples
This week, Team Discovery hit the water to extract core samples for analysis by our project geologist. Core sampling is part of our permit compliance. It also helps us better understand the strata, so we know how to identify sub-bottom targets better. The divers also get their cardio and weightlifting in one shot as they drive the 5’ deep and 3” round core sampler with 50 lbs of weight! After we took several samples, the team headed out for some searching as part of the training of some new members for the Discovery Dive Team. They searched some of the known areas and shown how to get close and personal with the ocean bottom while searching. They kicked up a lot of silt in the process.
With conditions near-perfect, Team SeaSearcher hit the water for ocean qualification testing on SeaSearcher #2’s new metal discriminator. They escorted the SeaSearcher to the bottom and helped position it over the previously buried check targets on the ocean floor. A passing group of jellyfish made the divers happy they had on their wet suits! As the operators stepped through the testing procedure, the divers got a bit restless and decided to give us some of their best mermaid impressions. Everyone is getting excited as the SeaSearcher Metal Discriminator nears the end of its ocean qualification testing and gets ready for operations.
New Custom-Designed Metal Detector Loops Using SeaSearcher Tech
Sometimes you get out on the water and say to yourself “I’m thinking this was not a good idea”. Wedged between two tropical lows, we spotted this little spring shower. It threatened to overtake the Good Fortune while we were out with the SeaSearcher doing some scanning. As ugly as it looks, we brought the SeaSearcher up, scooted South about 10 minutes, let it pass, and then went back to work. We were anxious to get some scanning done, but also to check out the new custom-designed loop for our metal detectors that our design team built based on SeaSearcher tech. It doubles our detection distance and footprint. They say it’s simple physics; we call it amazing. Once we were on the bottom, we scoped out the area we were scanning and did some poking around. Then, it was time for the SeaSearcher to get back to doing its thing. So, into the water, it went… nose-first. This time, in addition to our nose and wing cameras, we figured we would mount our GoPro and give you a first-person view ride on the back of the SeaSearcher as it moved over the ocean floor. During our scanning this week, we identified 12 new targets we need to come back and explore further.
Both boats are anxious to get back out on the water this week and glad these two tropical lows are past us and begin ocean testing of the SeaSearcher metal detector and explore more targets.
SeaSearcher Scanning Identified A New Target Area
What a wild week! The Good Fortune headed out to do some SeaSearcher scanning early in the week before the season’s first tropical disturbance hit us. The ride out was pretty rough, but once on-site, the winds shifted, it seemed to settle down and the skies cleared up. We were able to get a good bit of scanning done and identified a new target area for a detailed scan before the conditions caught up with us.
Also, the SeaSearcher divers hit the water to bury some calibrated test targets for the SeaSearcher Metal Discriminator which is finishing up shore testing and will be in the water very soon. In collaboration with our Project Archaeologist, a series of period equivalent targets were buried at the depth our marine geologist indicated we would likely be finding period artifacts. It was an odd feeling to be burying a treasure chest! These reference targets are used to train the SeaSearcher’s targeting system what to look for. It’s like a scent cloth for a hunting dog. The divers were using our pole dredge to dig the hole. The SeaSearcher team uses it to quickly get to shallow targets that are a little deeper than the hand blowers can go, but not deep enough to haul out the big dredge.
The Discovery and Good Fortune crews along with their divers can’t wait to get back out once this disturbance passes over the weekend. Sometimes these storms help, sometimes they wreak havoc; but, what we do know is each day in the water will bring new discoveries! Next week, you will want to check back because we are going to show you some new tech and take you for a ride on a SeaSearcher scanning mission with the SearSearcher team. We hope the weather cooperates, and we get some great footage.
Identified More Objects of Interest
The weather tried to hold us back earlier this week, however, it did eventually turn, so we were able to continue our search for the hidden history lying beneath the ocean floor. Unfortunately, the visibility was poor, but the team made the most of their time and were able to identify more objects of interest. A small intriguing wooden object was discovered and brought back to the wet storage facility for diagnostic testing on how it plays into the larger narrative of our quest. It is always fascinating to find a new artifact adding to the excitement. This object will be investigated over the next few days.
In addition to diving, we had shareholder, Mr. Ben Rothwell, helping and observing the operations while aboard the Good Fortune. When possible, we enjoy having shareholders join us for the day. Mr. Rothwell spent Friday evening with the teams and shared, “we’re in for a great ride; enjoy it!”
Discovery Team Working In The Field With CEO, Kyle Kennedy
It was a good time for calm seas early in the week. The Good Fortune took advantage of this to do some scanning of an area of interest. We had a special guest pilot for the SeaSearcher as we scanned a large area in between where we discovered the two wooden features. Just when we were about to scan another area of interest, we determined there was a large barge that had parked itself right over the top of our planned spot. No worries though. It’s just the beach reclamation barge and will be gone in a few days. It has been moving slowly up and down the beach all winter. They are not taking sand from our area, but it is pumping sand onto our beaches from the cape area. After a bit of piloting, Kyle took a trip out on the Discovery to help them with some bottom exploration as they work multiple target sites. By this time, the seas were not so friendly. But, they continued to explore until the sun started setting.
The next few days were a little rougher. Here you can see the Good Fortune heading out to the site as well as one of the divers prepping to go in the water. They wanted to search an area where they got both a magnetometer and a sonar hit at a shallow depth. The divers descended and began to search in the target area. Visibility was not bad for what was raging above. When we explore, we first use a metal detector and then use a sea scooter to gently blow the top layer away to expose any target find if it is shallow. Within about 8’ of the drop location, they uncovered a 4’ long iron spike buried just below the surface. As spikes go, this is about as big as they get. This is the kind of spike that would have been used to hold large hull sections together. It is being examined in the Wet Storage Facility now and we will let you know what they determine. From this spike, we may be able to determine beam size and approximate use.
The Discovery Team Working In The Field
Both vessels were out again this week for the few days that the weather permitted. Taking advantage of the calm between the storms, the captains skillfully guided their vessels out to site in conditions that would have kept most at home. Sometimes the actual conditions betray what the weather channel or a beach camera show, and sometimes you just have to make a run for it as a storm front approaches. This week, we continued to use the SeaSearcher to scan in an area of interest as well as dive to investigate some previous target hits. Here you can see a diver holding what turned out to be a wooden pulley that was attached to a large piece of what we believe is a period ship railing. It even had rope fragments still attached to it! You can also see one of the many spikes we find. Some spikes are obvious like this one is while others have wood attached to them. They range in size from a few inches long to 3 feet or longer and are typically made of iron, but sometimes we find ones made of bronze. Spikes are left in place and marked to establish a scatter pattern.
While the Good Fortune crew scanned and surveyed, the Discovery crew was busy exploring a target hit at over 8’ below the seabed. Imagine excavating a hole nearly 8’ deep in total darkness to come back the next day to find it was occupied by a large grouper! This picture was taken as the diver descended to find he and his dive partner were not alone. In a rare moment of water clarity, the diver also took this picture of the wall of the hole near the bottom.
As a cold front system approached, we packed it in. We are anxious to get back out on-site and continue our mission. Nearly every day we are out there, we identify more sonar hits and find more period pieces. The dive season is just beginning.
A Look Inside The SeaSearcher Lab
The weather this week did allow us to get on the water and do some SeaSearching, but the visibility at the bottom was near or at zero. Because of the low visibility, we figured it was a good time to give you a tour of the SeaSearcher Lab where the visibility is much better. The SeaSearcher lab is outfitted to build and maintain the SeaSearchers and supporting components. Pardon the covers. They are a little modest. Our lab has a dedicated workstation for each SeaSearcher. Yes, there are two SeaSearchers. Both are fully operational and leap-frog each other with upgrades. On the bench, you can see one of our SeaSearcher engineers doing some work on the power distribution module for SeaSearcher #2. Another picture shows one of our scientists calibrating the metal discriminator module that is being fitted onto the SeaSearcher. We can connect either SeaSearcher to our lab network and run it through its paces using our rolling monitor station before we take it to the field.
This week we turned some of our resources to support the COVID-19 effort by creating N95 masks. We are using our largest 3D printer, which we use to print SeaSearcher internal and hull parts, to print Montana N95 mask frames for first responders and those serving seniors. If all goes well, we will be able to turn all of our 3D printers towards this task for a few days in order to meet a short-term need.
Finally, since we were not able to share any pictures from this week’s diving because of the visibility, we figured we would share a picture of one of our archaeologists examining a large wooden feature located just North of where we are currently investigating. According to the archaeologist and wood sampling, it is likely period and is part of the deck planking of a large ship.
Dig And Identify With The Discovery Team In The Field
This week, we are sharing some images as the team works to uncover items identified by the SeaSearcher scans and hydro-probing. With both the Discovery and SeaSeacher teams in the water this week, there was plenty to do. The Discovery team set up to explore down to an item buried 6’ below the seabed. Exploring to that depth in near-zero visibility is quite challenging, but the Discovery team makes it look easy. Work gets very meticulous the closer they get to the target as this is an underwater archeological dig.
Just a few hundred yards away, the SeaSearcher team is researching an area where a lot of shallow item indications were noted from the SeaSearcher. The team starts with a metal detector and documents finds as they search. The pieces shown, a small metal object attached to a piece of wood and an encrusted object, were between 18 and 24 inches below the seafloor. They will follow with hydro-probing and marking of target locations for the Discovery team.
But, alas, our work was cut short this week when a cold weather front came through and created 4-6 ft choppy seas along with a wicked surge at the bottom. We can’t wait to get back out there!
Also included is a better picture of the wooden beam that was discovered during the Discovery Channel shoot. It is about 12 feet long and 10-12 inches thick. A small sample from a metal eye attached to this beam indicated 99.9% pure iron. Along with a wood sample, it indicated this is a period item.
A Look Inside The Wet Storage Facility
One of the most exciting places at Seafarer Exploration these days is the Wet Storage Facility where all of the suspected artifacts are examined. The trip starts with the Discovery Team as they carefully measure, photograph, and document any potential artifact find. This includes many aspects such as location, length, width, and orientation. Here you can see a 19’ wood feature that was discovered on the Melbourne site along with one of the many spikes adjacent to it. The suspected artifact is then examined in our Wet Storage Facility where it is stored using purified water and established stabilization procedures so it will not degrade during its short stay. The stabilization technician then carefully exposes a small section of the item, if encrusted, and uses an XRF analyzer to determine its metal composition. In this case, the XRF tells us it is 99.99% pure iron. This, along with the examination of a complimentary wood sample indicates a likely period feature. After some more measuring and data logging, the potential artifacts are returned to the ocean and marked with a numbered pole tag in case we ever need to find them again. BTW, that cool wood piece with the metal band you see in the pictures is from the mid-1900s according to our archaeologist. It is likely part of an old fishing pier or barge. We can tell by the composition of the band, round rivets, round tensioning rod and the fact it was welded together.
Using The SeaSearcher To Locate The Seafarer Exploration Test Coins
The SeaSearcher™ has been tested in a variety of environments including the lab, a test pool, lake, and the open ocean at numerous depths (both water and sub-bottom). The open ocean is where those very cool looking Seafarer Exploration coins come into play. They are 99.99% pure copper. Copper coins are an excellent metal target like silver and gold for the SeaSearcher sensor arrays. So, we had hundreds of SeaSearcher coins minted. In most cases, they are as good as gold (or silver). Where they aren’t, we have gold and silver to use too. We hydro-probe down and bury the coins at known locations below the ocean bottom. Location, placement, and conditions are coordinated using a diver comms system. We test different sizes, shapes, depths, and amounts. We scan over these coins to verify and tune the SeaSearcher’s performance before we scan prospective target areas. As you can see from the picture, they age pretty quickly! These coins were on the ocean bottom for just a few months. Also, here’s a screen-grab of what we see when we scan a real target. We see each object from just about every angle. We also see all those pesky seashells, rocks, strata changes, and other transient obstructions we have to get rid of through signal processing. What’s left is our target as little round pixels. The Sub-Floor Target Map shows us the shape of the object the hardest parts down to within inches. All of this is done in real-time. After that, the Discovery team goes to work to fully investigate.
A Look Inside The SeaSearcher Command Center
The SeaSearcher™ Command Trailer serves as an all-in-one transport, repair, and operations center for the SeaSearcher when on-site. There is secure storage for the SeaSearcher for transport to any of the Seafarer Exploration sites. There is also a complement of tools and spare parts so SeaSearcher can be repaired if needed. Finally, there is a fully integrated dual monitor command station where the SeaSearcher is operated. A high-speed wireless link from the command trailer to the SeaSearcher and HQ allows for real-time control and analysis of data as it is received. The SeaSearcher can also be controlled equally as well directly from the Good Fortune as well and we often do that. Here are some pictures of the team prepping and operating the SeaSearcher this week.
You might wonder how we resolve a target hit once the SeaSearcher identifies it and provides a precise location, depth, and size. For this, it’s time for the SeaSearcher Marine Research Team divers to hit the water and deploy a custom-designed hydro-probe which feeds a stream of clear water from the surface down to the bottom while capturing and providing real-time HD video of the intended target and surrounding strata. We can view any target up to 8’ below the bottom in minutes. We do this to minimize the time needed to validate targets. Once validated, it is marked, numbered, logged, and prioritized for the Discovery team to investigate further. We will have more on hydro-probing and how the SeaSearcher identifies and resolves targets next week.
Operating The SeaSearcher In The Field
Our SeaSearcher day starts with loading the SeaSearcher on the Good Fortune. Here, it is being loaded from the SeaSearcher command trailer. There will be more on that next week! Once loaded, the crew heads out to the site and launches the SeaSearcher into the water. A quick systems check and it’s all thrusters down to the bottom. One of our pilots and analysts then goes about the mission of piloting the SeaSearcher or setting it on an autonomous pre-established course for the day. Usually, visibility is only a few inches, but occasionally we can get a good picture or two on the bottom. Here is an encrusted object found by the Discovery team. We’ll show you more of their work soon as well as our newly established Wet Storage Facility. After several hours of scanning, the team escorts the SeaSearcher back to the Good Fortune and loads her up. Normally, scanning is a pretty lonely task, but occasionally, we get a visitor like this large manta ray that’s as big as our SeaSearcher! Maybe he thought we looked familiar.
Testing The SeaSeacher In The Field
Some have asked about the SeaSearcher and its team. Well, here’s a glimpse of the SeaSearcher team headed out for the day. This team of highly skilled technologists, divers, and engineers are responsible for the SeaSearcher development and operations. Upon command, SeaSearcher submerges and flies over the ocean floor scanning and relaying its imagery through the wireless link on the surface to the command center. The SeaSearcher is identifying anomalies below the seafloor which can’t be identified using industry-standard technology. Here are a few views as the SeaSearcher descends into the waters off of Melbourne Beach and heads out to perform a scan. Enjoy!