Coast Guard adds WHOI vehicle to Arctic oil spill response

Coast Guard adds WHOI vehicle to Arctic oil spill response

The ability to rapidly respond to an oil spill in the Arctic just got even faster, following the successful test deployment of a long-endurance robot between the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). On April 15, at a baseball field in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, a Jayhawk helicopter levitated within throwing distance of an ogling crowd of locals and their children. For Coast Guard officials, it promises to be the first rapid-response tool capable of identifying and tracking oil under ice in the event of an environmental disaster. “Everyone asks, ‘If we had an oil spill in the Arctic tomorrow would you be ready?’ and the answer is yes,” says WHOI lead engineer Amy Kukulya with confidence. Then, Coast Guard aviation personnel attached it to a line and releasable swivel hook system, affectionately called “Brutus.” Within just 10 minutes, Polaris was airborne––soon, a giant, pill-shaped dot in the distance.

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