In March 2015, in the Indian Ocean, 200 km west of Shark Bay, Western Australia, the combined teams at Western Australian Museum and Curtin University, lowered their remote operated vehicles into the sea. Armed with a variety of cameras and sensors, the aim was to explore a pair of shipwrecks from WW2; the HMAS Sydney II and the HSK Kormoran, and reveal a deeper understanding of why they now sit on the seabed.
To aid piloting the remote operated submarines, and capture high quality video footage of the shipwrecks, the exploration team used the state-of-the-art Surveyor-HD-Pro and 3D-HD camera systems, alongside a myriad of underwater LED lighting, all from Teledyne Bowtech.
STEMMER IMAGING and Teledyne Bowtech have worked in partnership for many years, with STEMMER IMAGING providing the market leading Sony FCB-EV7500 and a custom interface board for this latest range of cameras. The Sony camera provides incredible image quality and the interface board is customised to be as small as possible to fit inside the titanium housing, and produce HD video with minimal latency.
Alongside the camera and interface board, the Surveyor-HD-Pro uses custom optics to compensate for the fused quartz hemisphere window on front of the housing and being underwater, offering a 100° angle of view at the wide end.
Teledyne Bowtech Head of Innovation Brian Hector said: “We have a long running partnership with STEMMER IMAGING and Sony, who provide us with the high quality sensor and optics technology that our customers expect. The EV7500 has fantastic image quality, and useful features like wide-dynamic mode and image stabilisation.”
The 3D-HD is a high definition stereoscopic camera, also rated to 6,000 m operating depth. 3D imaging is invaluable for ROV manipulation tasks; the perception of depth enables the operator to carry out difficult and time-consuming operations faster and more safely. In all operations subsea, and especially important to marine archaeology, 3D provides a tremendous spatial awareness that is not achieved through normal 2D vision.
The Sydney and the Kormoran were destroyed in battle on the 19th of November 1941 off Western Australia. For many years the fate of the Sydney and her 645 crew was a mystery until both wrecks were found in 2008. Photographs taken at that time did not explain how Sydney could have been so comprehensively disabled, however, new images taken by Dr Woods and his team clearly show damage which supports the theory that the bridge was destroyed and the ship’s command structure lost early in the battle, as reported by a survivor from the Kormoran.
The intention is that the images of both shipwrecks will be used to create multi-platform museum exhibitions to capture the unique heritage value of these ships for future generations and to honour the lives lost in what is still Australia’s greatest naval tragedy.
Dr Andrew Woods, Research Engineer at the Centre for Marine Science & Technology at Curtin University hailed the expedition “a raging success” due in part to good weather, reliable equipment and very careful planning. “All of our goals were met, including many of our stretch goals. There have been comments that we’ve set a new benchmark in maritime archaeology – which is what we set out to do.” The research team now has the task of reviewing the 50 TB of data, around 700,000 still images and some 300 hours of HD video collected during the week long survey.
Oliver Richford, Business Development Manager at STEMMER IMAGING said: “We take pride in our strong customer relationships, and it’s great to work with customers eager to be on the cutting edge of the technology we supply. Providing a compact solution provided its challenges, however the video shows the camera and custom optics provide a brilliant solution.”
With a diverse range of core technologies and experience in consumer, broadcast and security applications, Sony offers a range of highly versatile cameras which find applications in many markets.
STEMMER IMAGING has been one of the leaders in the machine vision market since 1987. It is one of Europe's largest technology providers in this field. In 1997 STEMMER IMAGING presented Common Vision Blox (CVB), a powerful programming library for fast and reliable development and implementation of vision solutions, which has been deployed successfully throughout the world in more than 40,000 imaging applications in various industries.