SSDE and Diver Tracking on the London

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In August 2021, MSDS Marine supported a diver survey of Site 2 of the wreck of the London, a warship that blew up in the Thames Estuary in 1665 that is now protected under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973.

The project facilitated the wreck Licensee Steve Ellis to guide divers around the site to install control points from which features can be measured to create an accurate site plan. In order to accurate position these control points, Divers were equipped with Sonardyne tracking beacons that allowed the position of the divers to be displayed on a screen back on the boat. These beacons were part of an Ultra-Short Baseline (USBL) acoustic tracking system that works using sound to measure the range and the bearing of a beacon from a transducer fixed to the boat. This data is combined with a GPS position to output the live, real-world position of the diver on the seabed which is overlain on up-to-date, high resolution multibeam bathymetry.

The visibility on the London wreck site is notoriously poor, however, with the help of the tracking system Steve Ellis was able to guide the divers to features via their helmet radio enabling divers who had never dived on the wreck before to easily navigate around the site, as well as install control points and record the position of features.