GMT goes deep with Alvin

Alvin gets ready f or refit.  From WHOI
Alvin tanks - complex forms

GMT Composites, Inc. was selected by Wood's Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) to build the three primary main ballast tanks on the Navy's renowned research submersible Alvin.

Under WHOI's management, Alvin is undergoing a major 2 stage refit program to upgrade its maximum depth rating from 4,500 meters (14,764') to 6,500 meters (21,326') in a quest to bring 98% of the ocean floor within reach of researchers in Alvin.

Alvin is a human occupied vehicle (HOV) certified by the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA). Pressures at these depths exceed 5 tons per square inch, and any air pockets in a laminate would get crushed. No paint will be used on the ballast tanks so they can easily be visually inspected for any void content or damage. Alvin's passengers will be housed in a new titanium sphere which was forged from two solid pieces of titanium ingots weighing 17,000 pounds each.

The tanks are a complex form. They are designed around the structure of the vessel, where space is at a premium. Pictured here is the mold for one of 3 tanks with its contoured shape almost looking like a sculpture. Once the tank forms were lifted from the molds, additional reinforcements and internal baffles were added. It was a difficult process, but rewarding to see the tanks heading off for installment in Alvin & its future missions.

Alvin has been on 4,664 research dives in its almost 50 years of service. It is famously known for documenting the wreck of the Titanic, exploring the deep-sea hydrothermal vents off the Galapagos in the 70's, and recovering a lost hydrogen bomb in the Mediterranean Sea in the 60's.

GMT is honored to be a part of the Alvin program. While they have done jobs for the Navy in the past, none have been used in environments as unforgiving as over 4 miles below the ocean's surface.