8-Pound Swimming Robot Enters
Places No Man Has Seen Since 1943
Inside the grand battleship whose sinking
marked the beginning of U.S. involvement in World War II, drawings still lay on
desks as if they had been stretched out yesterday. Clothes hang in closets.
Tools are laid down, as if to be picked up again momentarily. Sixty years after
the bombing that claimed 1,177 lives, these images were seen through the video
eye of a tiny swimming robot used by the National Park Service to survey the
interior of the USS Arizona. The robot is a remotely operated vehicle (ROV)
called VideoRay, which sneaked through portholes, air ducts, manholes, and
openings created by bomb blasts to explore the ship's interior during two
The ROV revealed "an amazing perspective
of preservation in this important American icon," said Larry E. Murphy,
chief of the Submerged Resources Center for the National Park Service in Santa
Fe, New Mexico. "We are using the ROV to help us focus on the future care
of the USS Arizona as a national shrine. It has met challenging conditions to
conduct documentation and measurements in otherwise inaccessible areas."
The VideoRay was identified as the only piece
of equipment that could access confined places divers could not go. The ROV
traveled to depths of 150 feet inside the ship, while taking readings and
measuring the thickness of the walls containing No. 6 fuel oil, which leaks from
the USS Arizona at the rate of a quart a day. The VideoRay will be exploring
other ships in Pearl Harbor in coming months.
Source: Newstream, Dec. 5, 2001.