Updated: Sep 13, 2022
It is considered as the most technologically advanced vessel ever conceived to carry on global exploration and research studies under the lenses of paramount international broadcastings. Its name recalls a cinematic Hollywoodian adventure saga and the interior spaces give the impression of being part of a film set. OceanXplorer, or just OceanX, englobes four scientific laboratories, a media centre, a Microsoft augmented reality conference hall, a helicopter for aerial views, a dive centre and four advanced deep-sea vehicles and ROVs (Remotly Operated Vehicles) capable to reach up to 6,000 meters deep pushing the limits of the known world. Thanks to the latest devices and an almost futuristic centralized mission data management platform, all information collected live can be stored onboard and visualised within targeted software or 3D renderings to enter every detail. Would you like to know more? On the 31st August 2022, MONACŒCOART® had the exclusive privilege to take a guided tour inside this 'dream vessel' while anchored in Monaco (Quai Rainier III) for a couple of days, being part of a very small group of international journalists and photographers. The press tour followed just a few hours after the official visit by H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco and Pierre Casiraghi welcomed by Ray and Mark Dalio, American businessmen and investors.
«OceanX’s mission is to make the ocean accessible to the world by supporting education and conservation efforts», Vincent Pieribone, OceanX Chief Scientist & Co-CEO
“OceanX’s mission is to make the ocean accessible to the world by supporting education and conservation efforts. So, we are delighted to have the Prince Albert II Foundation of Monaco (FPA2) as a partner in our work”, outlined Professor Vincent Pieribone, OceanX Chief Scientist and Co-CEO, who pro-actively accompanied us in the tour. As specified, the cooperation with an organization with such a strong heritage in support of the oceans on scientific explorations, sponsored by the Gouvernement Princier (Prince’s Government), is particularly exciting. OceanX, in fact, has been operating worldwide as an international non-profit organization fully plunged in ocean preservation and observation as well as in science investigation and education programs. The greatest documentarists have boarded the vessel and took advantage of the high-level instrumentation. Sir David Attenborough is one of them being amazed by Nadir (OceanX’s toy) submersible to film BBC Blue Planet’s series. Since 2020, OceanX and FPA2 have joined forces in the cause of the oceans. National Geographic’s productions are frequent users as well.
Photo >> One of the four high-tech submersibles on board OceanXplorer (30th August 2022) - © Gaetan Luci Palais Princier
«Discovering the secret beauties hidden in our seas and revealing them to the public through powerful images carrying scientific messages is crucial to better educate and inspire action», Olivier Wenden, Vice President of FPA2
Olivier Wenden, Vice-President and CEO at Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, highlighted: “Hosting the OceanXplorer research vessel in Monaco is a fantastic opportunity to highlight the essential link that exists, and must exist, between science and awareness. We are proud to partner and share with them a common goal of being mediators and ambassadors for science. Discovering the secret beauties hidden in our seas and revealing them to the public through powerful images carrying scientific messages is crucial to better educate and inspire action”. The conservation of coral reefs, the development of Marine Protected Areas, the fight against plastic pollution and the protection of endangered species are common grounds of both entities together with teaching and scientific dissemination. All this aims at giving life to a global community open to understand, appreciate and protect our oceans towards an eco-friendly future.
This synergy is producing excellent results as the recent exploration in the Red Sea (February 2022) where scientists could carry out habitat characterizations, a biodiversity inventory and in-depth mapping of the site with particular emphasis on shallow waters, including corals and seagrass beds. Various activities have been conducted, notably: electronic DNA and metagenomics, seabed mapping as well as research on megafauna, corals and deep-water habitats. That brought to various amazing discoveries including a new species of ‘super corals’ resistant to global warming effects that will be officially presented to the G20 Summit.
The difference compared to other scientific ships is perceived immediately entering the vessel which measures 87.1m long and 21.4m wide. The friendly and professional crew showed an accurate and efficient organization behind. As stressed in the opening speech, the ship originally served as an offshore survey ship and it was then completely renovated in Rotterdam to become a marine conservation platform. A special focus was put on establishing a top ranked hydrographic and IT facilities to serve major Media industry. Many details emerge during the visit to confirm its media vocation. Digital installations (computer screens, IT information boards, etc.) are frequent in all its environments. Interior design is comfortable and practical with a fantastic system of adjustable lights in intensity and colour, suitable for each cinematographic shot. Moreover, laboratories have extra space to allow shooting without disturbing the work of researchers. A totally user-friendly context for media professionals that proved to be functional having already faced an entire season in the Atlantic Ocean.
To guarantee diving, a dedicated room was built including a state-of-the-art decompressing chamber with the higher safety measures. Some of the submarines are connected to the ship with powerful steel cables allowing users to explore and interact with the seabed thanks to an internal control cabin with new-generation geolocation and operational tools. Something extraordinary considering that about 80% of planet’s oceans have not been mapped and around 90% of submarine environments have not been seen yet. A high-definition cable communication system also provides a vital role for divers and submersibles considering that under water radio waves and GPS do not exist.
OceanX represents a real 'floating paradise' for those who carry out scientific research in the ocean but it is also a unique ‘tool’ to raise public awareness of the importance of maintaining healthy marine biodiversity in order to preserve liveable conditions for the human species and to nurture in the new generations the passion for oceanography together with documentary making. ***
By Maurice Abbati