More than half of our planet is covered by water that is at least two miles deep. The unique assets of the NDSF carry humans or a virtual human presence beneath those waters and down to the seafloor.
The NDSF is sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and hosted at WHOI. Its operation is overseen by the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS), an organization of 58 academic institutions and national laboratories involved in marine research.
The NDSF operates, maintains, and coordinates the use of three vital deep ocean assets:
- The human-occupied vehicle (HOV) Alvin
- The remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Jason/Medea
- The autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) Sentry
Whether diving 4,500 meters (14,764 feet) or remaining submerged for several days, each vehicle offers unique tools to explore the mysteries beneath the ocean’s surface. When submitting a proposal for funding, any prospective PI should also complete a formal Ship Time Request and indicate the vehicle or vehicles they require.
Chief Scientist for Deep Submergence
The Chief Scientist for Deep Submergence (CSDS) at WHOI works in parallel with the NDSF, specifically to provide liaison between interested scientists throughout the U.S. and the engineers who operate the vehicles at WHOI.
An important role of the CSDS is to monitor and help improve the performance of vehicles as they support funded research projects and also to provide advice to scientists from the very earliest stages of project planning—explaining the relative strengths and merits of individual vehicles and identifying capability gaps to be filled so that scientists can plan the most effective projects possible.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at NDSF
NDSF is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. As a leader in building and operating deep submergence assets that benefit the entire oceanographic community, we recognize the opportunity to make a difference by intentionally building a more diverse generation of engineers and technicians at the facility. In response to goals set within the DeSSC community last fall, NDSF is working to make internal processes more equitable in hiring and recruitment, and providing training in every one of our groups. We are also developing outreach efforts to engage historically marginalized student populations. In cooperation with host institution WHOI, funding partners NSF, ONR, and NOAA, and partners such as the Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute, NDSF is working towards structural changes across the facility to build a culture that invites and nurtures the potential of all the engineers and technicians who do this vital work.