Paul Allen’s Quest for Sunken Warships using the “Petrel” REMUS 6000
In 2017, Paul Allen, late Microsoft co-founder, set out to find and document every significant U.S. World War II warship that has been sunk. However, finding a wreck presents enormous challenges as roughly only 10% of the ocean floor is properly mapped, and the sunken ships are rarely intact. A large part of the challenge is knowing where to start surveying and where the ships sank. Through his company Vulcan, Allen funded the discovery and exploration of more than 20 warships, including the American aircraft carriers Lexington and Hornet, the cruiser U.S.S. Indianapolis and the Japanese battleship Musashi.
Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) have proven their efficacy and efficiency when used for mapping purposes and explorations such as Allen’s quest to locate some of World War II’s most famous wrecks. HII’s REMUS 6000 was instrumental in Allen’s success in locating these wrecks. The REMUS 6000 is the largest of the autonomous REMUS vehicles and can map an area in depths from 25 m to 6,000 m. The power of the REMUS 6000 allows ample space and power to travel deeper and further while carrying a more complex set of sensors. The software and electronic subsystem are the same in the highly successful REMUS 100 AUV.
Throughout the operation, Allen equipped the REMUS 6000, Petrel, with cutting-edge video and photographic technology, which also included a ship positioning system that allowed it to automatically “hover” over wrecks on the ocean floor. Retired Rear Admiral Samuel K. Cox explained “Initially Mr. Allen and Vulcan operated entirely on their own, pursuing a hobby and interest of Mr. Allen. My Command soon determined that Vulcan was a competent, serious, first-rate group with quality technology, and we were persuaded that they would treat any wreck found with dignity and respect.” During the exploration of the Petrel in the South Pacific, Adm. Cox spent time aboard the ship and said that the “Petrel had capabilities the Navy does not have”.