Robotic vehicle lost during deep diveVessel & ROV News // May 14, 2014
The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) has confirmed that on 10 May 2014 the hybrid remotely operated vehicle Nereus was confirmed lost at a depth of 9,990m (6.2 miles) in the Kermadec Trench northeast of New Zealand.
The unmanned vehicle was working as part of a mission to explore the ocean's hadal region from 6,000m to nearly 11,000m deep.
Scientists say a portion of it probably imploded under pressure as great as 16,000 pounds per square inch.
Nereus was built in 2008 by the Deep Submergence Lab at the WHOI with funding from the US National Science Foundation (NSF) to descend to the deepest parts of the ocean and to operate either autonomously or to be controlled remotely from the surface.
WHOI engineers incorporated a number of novel technologies into its design for use in remote operations, including an optical fiber tether for use in remote operations, ceramic flotation, and lithium-ion batteries. Its mission was to undertake "high-risk, high-reward" research in the deepest, high-pressure parts of Earth's ocean.
At the time it was lost, it was 30 days into a 40-day expedition on board the research vessel Thomas G Thompson to carry out the first-ever, systematic study of a deep-ocean trench as part of the NSF-sponsored Hadal Ecosystems Study (HADES).