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06/07/01 - Day 5

The side scan sonar is finally launched

Rob White reports

We're off!

After another uncertain start to the day - with winds still high at up to 30 knots, and wave heights to match - the sun broke through for us at about 1330, with clear signs that the weather was on the mend. Above all, wind speeds were dropping towards the 'Go' figure of 15 knots.

The sonar is lifted into the ocean

the sonar is lifted overboard

By mid-afternoon 'Go!' it was. The Oceaneering Technologies team made their final checks on their 'Ocean Explorer' sidescan sonar, and by six o'clock the launch countdown was well under way.

As the bright yellow submersible lifted off the deck, swaying gently in the Atlantic air, with it rose all the hopes and fears, all the years and months of planning invested in the 'Hood' - ' Bismarck' project.

Moments later 'Ocean Explorer' was afloat, ready to dive on its journey to find the 'Bismarck', over 4000 metres down somewhere on the ocean bed below us. As the towfish began its long descent David was able to relax - but only a little: "I'm just glad it's in the water" he told the Channel 4 film crew. "3 days of frustration is now released - we should know in about 6 or 7 hours whether we're right or not about 'Bismarck'."

David and the film crew on deck

David and the film crew on deck

With the descent complete and the towfish travelling along its first 'line', Oceaneering Technologies' sidescan sonar team gave the sound signals they were getting full marks. "Outstanding" said Field Engineer Chuck Hohing. "Some of the best quality I've ever seen. Better right now than we'd anticipated."

And now, anticipation is once again the name of the game. Bar taught, the cable linking 'Ocean Explorer to our ship reaches down deep into the Atlantic. Are we on the right track for 'Bismarck'? We should know by 2 o'clock in the morning...

Full Listing
26/07/01 -
Finally - a service of remembrance

The Hood Photo Appeal

25/07/01 -
More big discoveries

23/07/01 -
She's found!

22/07/01 -
Keeping in position

21/07/01 -
Tracking the ocean floor

20/07/01 -
Sonar finds "promising target"

19/07/01 -
Combing the search box

18/07/01 -
Transfers and goodbyes

17/07/01 -
Meet the search team

16/07/01 -
Meet the survey team

15/07/01 -
Meet the experts

14/07/01 -
Meet the film crew

13/07/01 -
Farewell to the Bismarck

12/07/01 -
A service of remembrance

11/07/01 -
More filming from the deep

10/07/01 -
The Bismarck plaque is laid

09/07/01 -
The Bismarck is found!

07/07/01 -
Staying on track

06/07/01 -
The sonar is finally launched

05/07/01 -
More frustration for the team

04/07/01 -
Rough weather halts progress

03/07/01 -
Expedition to film the Bismarck

03/07/01 -
Holding a steady course

02/07/01 -
Northern Horizon leaves Cork

28/06/01 -
David Mearns in Webchat

27/06/01 -
ITN's Rob White reports from the ship