April 1977 - Maritime Reporter and Engineering News

SNAME Pacific Northwest Section Discusses Deepsea Mining

At a recent meeting of the Pacific Northwest Section of The Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, a film was shown by George M. Bonnett of Deepsea Ventures Inc. on "Mining the Oceans." Deepsea Ventures Inc. of Gloucester Point, Va., has for many years been investigating the feasibility of mining manganese nodules from the Pacific Ocean floor at depths of 18,000 feet.

The nodules composed of manganese, nickel, copper and cobalt of approximately 30 percent mineral composition with approximately 26 additional trace minerals are pebbled across the floor of the seabed to an average density of two pounds per square foot.

Deepsea Ventures Inc. is presently entering into the final phase of their research, which will consist of actually mining the nodules with their mining vessel Deepsea Miner II. Todd Shipyards, Galveston, Texas, accomplished the hull modifications to the vessel, previously named the Weser Ore.

The modifications included the addition of a 27-foot-wide and 34-foot-long dredge well in the center of the ship, forward and after thruster wells, installation of a flume stabilization system and instrument packages on the ship's bottom.

Further modifications to the vessel were accomplished by Northwest Marine Iron Works of Portland, Ore. Northwest Marine Iron Works installed the mining equipment designed and fabricated by Western Gear Corporation, Heavy Machinery Division of Everett, Wash. The equipment consists of a gimbal-mounted derrick, a pipe-handling stowage and suspension system and heavecompensation arrangement to handle the three and one-half miles of dredge pipe weighing more than one million pounds.

Also included in the Northwest Marine Iron Works package was the installation of equipment to separate the nodules from the salt and water, conveyors for transporting the nodules to the ship's cargo holds, installation of the instrumentation package to orient the vessel during dredging, and all high-pressure air and hydraulic piping and electrical installations for operation of the dredging equipment by deck-mounted diesel generators and diesel-driven hp air compressors.

After the film, Mr. Bonnett entertained a lively and interesting discussion on the ship's far-reaching potential for other deepsea exploration and mining.

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