Engineering Excellence at Sea
For half a century we have demonstrated science and technology expertise and gained a national reputation. The Ocean Engineering Department serves as a resource to scientists at APL-UW, the University of Washington, other research organizations, and the U.S. Navy. We provide engineering know-how to support ambitious basic and applied research programs.
Mechanical, electrical, software, and field engineers design, fabricate, and deploy systems in the deep and coastal ocean environments, and under polar ice.
Instrument design and fabrication
- Scientific and naval instrumentation
- Autonomous undersea vehicles
- Moorings, underwater structures and towers
- Harsh environment packaging (polar, shipboard, and airborne systems)
- Finite element analysis
- Acoustic transducers
- Corrosion and abrasion analysis and control
- Low-power, battery operated, embedded systems
- High-speed data acquisition systems and signal processing
- Custom analog and digital board design, PCB layout
- Complex system design, electro-mechanical systems
- Custom and OEM sensor integration
- Embedded systems
- Remote/autonomous operation
- TCP/IP instrumentation
- Linux, Windows, and DOS systems
- C++, Visual Basic, Labview, Matlab, and web-based languages
To support shallow water and under-ice field experiments, the Department has five scientific divers certified by the American Academy of Underwater Sciences and by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration for nitrox mixed gas diving.
- Deployment, operation, and recovery of equipment at sea and in the Arctic
- Logistics and operations support in the Arctic, at sea, and remote locations
- Diving open water and under-ice
Russ Light, Department Head
"We work with our customers to meet their needs with state-of-the-art engineering."
Deep-Sea Rescue of Valuable Research Instruments
The subsurface mooring component of the Northwest Enhanced Moored Observatory (NEMO) had to be rescued by a ROV piloted by APL-UW engineers. Extensive crevice corrosion from a longer-than-expected deployment was behind the acoustic release failures. More >>
Cabled Observatory Imaging Sonar System
COVIS is now plugged into the NEPTUNE Canada ocean observatory to image the plumes emanating from hydrothermal vent complexes. Plume geometry, discharge rates, and linkages between seafloor hydrothermal activity with tidal cycles, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions are being measured.
APL Ice Station
APL-UW's Ocean Engineering Department constructed an ice camp to support U.S. Navy and civilian personnel on the pack ice in the Beaufort Sea. The team provided all logisticscamp construction, infrastructure, and food servicesand conducted under-ice acoustic tracking and diving operations to support naval exercises during the station's month-long habitation.
Seaglider is enhanced with a new acoustic sensor an extremely low power and small recorder to make ocean ambient noise measurements and to receive very low frequency signals from ATOC sources. Efforts are under way to design and fabricate a second-generation glider that will travel faster and deeper, and carry a larger payload.
In the News
Company plans carbon-fiber sub to dive deeply, cheaply
The Seattle Times, Alisa Reznick
31 Oct 2013
In collaboration with the University of Washington's Applied Physics Lab and Boeing's Research and Technology wing, OceanGate co-founder Stockton Rush's "Cyclops" is being designed to take five passengers up to nearly 10,000 feet below the ocean's surface. It is expected to debut for charter use in 2016.
Work this summer extends reach of cabled deep-ocean observatory
UW New and Information, Hannah Hickey
1 Jul 2013
The University of Washington research vessel Thomas G. Thompson is loading up for six weeks at sea. When the team returns to Seattle in late August they will have extended the cabling to key research sites, an important part of building the first real-time, continuous eye on the mysterious creatures, currents and geologic forms in waters off the Pacific Northwest coast.
UW takes major step in establishing ocean observatory
Northwest Cable News Network, Glenn Farley
27 Jun 2013
The R/V Thomas G. Thompson is ready to sail with a portion of the 570 miles of fiber optic cable that will turn the ocean floor off the northwest coast into a research paradise, and not just for scientists.
Mathis, J.T., R.S. Pickart, R.H. Byrne, C.L. McNeil, G.W.K. Moore, L.W. Juranek, X. Liu, J. Ma, R.A. Easley, M.M. Elliot, J.N. Cross, S.C. Reisdorph, F. Bahr, J. Morison, T. Lichendorf, and R.A. Feely, "Storm-induced upwelling of high pCO2 waters onto the continental shelf of the western Arctic Ocean and implications for carbonate mineral saturation states," Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, doi:10.1029/2012GL051574, 2012.
11 Apr 2012, Link
Stewart, A., M. Cao, A. Nedic, D. Tomlin, and N. Leonard, "Towards humanrobot teams: Model-based analysis of human decision making in two-alternative choice tasks with social feedback," Proc. IEEE, 100, 751-775, doi:10.1109/JPROC.2011.2173815, 2012.
1 Mar 2012, Link
Rona, P., and R. Light, "Sonar images hydrothermal vents in seafloor observatory," EOS Trans. AGU, 92, 169, doi: 1029/2011EO200002, 2011.
17 May 2011, Link