The plight of the RV Seward-Johnson and Sea-Link submersibles made the front page at the Palm Beach Post yesterday. The article features interviews with Harbor Branch associate interim director Pete Tatro and former HBOI scientist Edie Widder, who’s logged more than 200 dives in the JSLs.
The story notes the research institution is being forced to cut 1 million dollars out of its budget next year, and at 600k/year, ditching the Seward Johnson is one of the easiest ways to do that. Mr. Tatro believes an ROV is a “less expensive answer to the same game.”
The point Tatro’s missing, it seems, is that the Seward-Johnson and the JSLs are a big part of what makes HBOI special and unique. Aside from the exceptional quality of the researchers, without those subs, you might say HBOI is just another research institution with an ROV. You can’t launch an ROV from the dock, either, sir.
The question I am asking is what’s the plan for replacement, who will fund that, and what are the transaction costs involved in selling one boat and buying another, with an ROV? My guess is you’re back at 600k in no time.