Abstract

This paper presents the sea-trial of the deep-sea cobalt-rich crust sampling machine, a remotely operated vehicle. The sea-trials were conducted at one area in South China Sea, where the depth is about 1300 m. This paper discusses the experimental results of the sea-trial focused on operation, motion control of the vehicle and some other aspects. Further works need to be done to make the sampling machine much more useful and flexible.

Introduction

With the development of marine technology, deep sea mining has gradually attracted the attention of many countries. The distribution of cobalt-rich crusts on the seafloor is relatively clear, the Pacific Ocean has the largest distribution, accounting for about 80.8%, followed by the Atlantic Ocean, accounting for 14.3%, and the Indian Ocean has the least distribution, accounting for only 4.9% (Liu, He, Yao, Yang, Ren, Guo, Mei, 2013). Many countries have obtained cobalt crust samples from the seafloor. JOGMEC collected 649 kilograms of cobalt and nickel-rich seabed crust during a test (JOGMEC, 2020) aboard the marine resource research vessel "Hakurei" in July, 2020. JAMSTEC collected a sample of cobalt-rich ferromanganese crust (JAMSTEC, 2016) by ROV Kaiko Mk-IV in Januray, 2016. China geological survey Obtained a plate-shaped cobalt-rich crust sample with a thickness of more than 30 cm by ROV (CGS, 2018).

In order to verify some related technologies involved in industrial deep-sea mining, such as deployment and recycling, navigation, positioning and motion control, our institute updated deep-sea cobalt-rich crust sampling machine from the original version (Yang, Xie, Chen, Chen, Zheng, Zhang, and Li, 2017). The function of the orign one was very limited which only worked on land or shallow water and engineers improved the device from 2018 to 2019. After the first sea-trial (http://www.idsse.cas.cn/zd_sydtlb/201905/t20190516_5296551.html) in April, 2019 in South China Sea, engineers found many problems in the system and fixed it.

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