While we are all happily enjoying our Christmas Day on dry land this year, the crew and OML technical team will be at sea undertaking a special deep sea research expedition, north of Aitutaki.
The 8 day research voyage, on the local vessel MV Grinna, was delayed because of poor weather and set off almost 2 weeks later than planned. However, all the local crew and technical team remained optimistic that they would depart and were very keen to join in this historic deep sea research opportunity.
This Seabed Minerals related voyage is being conducted under a Research Application approved by the Cook Islands Research Committee. Basically, it relates to some limited nodule, sediment and biological research, using basic Free Fall Grab sampling, in the OML Reserve area, north of Aitutaki.
Friends and family gathered to farewell their loved ones on this exciting adventure. It is only the 2nd such expedition in the Cook Islands waters in the last 30+ years.
Today’s dockside farewell was initiated at the Avatiu harbour by Seabed Minerals Commissioner, Paul Lynch, saying a word of thanks and best wishes from the Minister of Natural Resources and Minerals, the Hon. Deputy Prime Minister, Mark Brown. Then the OML Research leader, Hans Smit of Ocean Minerals Limited (OML) said a word of thanks to the Cook Islands and the team assembled for this research. He introduced the 4 representatives of his highly skilled and experienced overseas technical team and noted the excellent caliber and enthusiasm of the 6 Cook Islands volunteers, who have all helped prepare the vessel for departure over the last week – see the table below.
The research voyage is conducted under international standards of technical, health and safety requirements, and sanctioned by all relevant Cook Islands authorities, laws and regulations.
Cook Islands participants in the OML research survey
Cook Islands Traditional leader, Pa Ariki then shared some words of wisdom and wished the research team a safe and successful voyage. Her son, traditional Cook Islands voyager, Sam Napa Junior, then performed a Pe’e, or traditional cultural chant, and explained how appropriate it was for this type of ocean expedition in our waters.
A prayer of blessing was then conducted for a safe and successful voyage, before final photos were taken by family and friends gathered to farewell the research team.
The team are expected back in Avatiu Harbour on the 30th or 31st of December.