Watch as a UL submarine investigates shipwrecks off the west coast

Watch as a UL submarine investigates shipwrecks off the west coast

A team of engineers from the University of Limerick braved the murky depths of the Atlantic on a recent expedition to investigate shipwrecks off the west coast.

The group of researchers, led by chief scientist Dr Gerard Dooly, carried out a series of surveys in highly challenging environments in UL's own submarine, the ROV Étáin.

A recently unveiled Irish National Monuments Service Wreck Viewer lists the locations of more than 4,000 shipwrecks from a total of 18,000 records of potential wrecks in Irish waters.

Engineers from CRIS (Centre for Robotics and Intelligent Systems) at UL and MaREI (Marine and Renewable Energy Ireland) set about investigating some of these wrecks.

The underwater vehicle control system, developed at UL, and funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) uses artificial intelligence (AI) and high powered computers.

Dr Gerard Dooly, chief scientist for the survey and deep wreck diver, said: “Close quarter inspection of these sites with an ROV is technically challenging and hazardous due to the presence of abandoned fishing gear.

Near the wreck, we saw pots and pans and unexploded ordinance (shells and primers) scattered on the seafloor reminding us of the human misfortune that occurred at the time of sinking.

"Every wreck has its own story, so it’s always interesting to locate long forgotten shipwrecks and then try to determine the identity of the wreck and understand something of the circumstances of the tragedy.”

The survey successfully located and dove on two large wrecks thought to be that of a Liner and a large cargo vessel and one smaller wreck which was found to be an operational WWI era U-boat.

A high definition camera survey of one of the wrecks revealed that intact parts of the ship were colonised by various creatures including anemones, corals, and oysters.

Watch the search here:

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