John Mickett

Senior Oceanographer

OPD Department


Matthew Alford

Affiliate Principal Oceanographer

OPD Department


Affiliate Professor, Oceanography

Eric Boget

Principal Engineer

OE Department


Tim McGinnis

Head, OE Department

Sr. Principal Engineer

OE Department


Zoe Parsons

Field Engineer I

EIS Department





M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust

Deep-Sea Rescue of Valuable Research Instruments

Northwest Enhanced Moored Observatory – NEMO

Who, Where, What?

Three engineers from the APL-UW's Ocean Engineering Department – Eric Boget, Tim McGinnis, and Zoë Parsons – and John Mickett from the Ocean Physics Department were underway on UW’s R/V Thomas G. Thompson off the Washington coast in mid-January to recover two moorings that are part of the NANOOS Northwest Enhanced Moored Observatory (NEMO).

Moorings, both those with surface expressions and those with all instruments deep in the water column, are equipped with acoustic releases that set the chain of instruments and floats free from the weights on the bottom. For the subsurface mooring, the primary AND back-up remote acoustic releases failed, likely due to heavy corrosion of release parts by seawater.

Rescue Mission

NEMO Schematic

More About this Research

To free the mooring the team used a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) equipped with a grab hook and a recovery line. With Tim McGinnis as pilot, Eric Boget and Zoë Parsons running deck operations, and John Mickett working with the bridge to correctly position the Thompson, the team was able to find the subsurface mooring using sonar mounted on the ROV. Then the ROV was flown into position to hook into the mooring just above the anchor at about 100 m below the surface. Though the target was small (a link of the mooring chain) and the ROV was hindered by the drag of its umbilical and buffeted by currents, McGinnis was able to hit the mark after several missed attempts and much suspense.

The three components of the Washington coastal observatory.