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US Coast Guard Cutter "McCulloch" shipwreck

Here are a couple videos I put together after a couple dives on the recently discovered US Coast Guard Cutter “McCulloch” wreck site. This 220’ ship sank after a collision in 1917 and was lost until its recent discovery in 2016. There is a lot of interesting history behind the “McCulloch”. She served at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War, and sank while in route to be outfitted with larger guns to serve as a patrol boat during WW1.

One video was filmed with a small drop camera and the other with a large towed camera sled. This wreck is at about 300’ deep, and in an area that usually has high seas and strong surface currents (near Pt. Conception and Pt. Arguello CA). These dives are a good test of the dynamic positioning system on my boat as well as the new camera sled and some new heave compensation techniques I am trying out. This new camera sled uses a couple T200 thrusters for heading control and is also designed to work as a simple TMS/Overhead Lighting Platform for a small ROV. I use a handful of other Blue Robotics parts on the sled as well.


@nperry - Beautiful shots! You’ve made a lot of improvements since last time I saw the sled. The DP system seems to be working great!

Thanks Rusty. Yep this sled is just about ready to attach an ROV and get some really good wreck footage using all the overhead lighting. The DP is a key part of it as well, I don’t think you saw any of that equipment last time. I ended up building 2 mostly custom 36v trolling motors that can be attached to the transom and they are commanded over Bluetooth by an android app I made. The app uses Google Maps so I can easily insert my own map overlays, etc. As long as the conditions are reasonable it will hold the boat in a 10-15’ diameter area and you can slowly walk the sled around over the bottom.


Very cool. Any idea how much thrust the trolling motors have? I’m curious how much it takes to keep you boat stationary.


They are each 115 lbs of thrust. The way I have it set up I make the boat back into the current or wind to keep station since the thrusters are mounted in the stern, and the boat naturally tends to orient that way in most conditions. Attaching the motors to the bow of my boat would be too inconvenient.
It really works a lot like the off the shelf trolling motor systems you can buy, except that I use 2 motors independently to help maintain and/or correct the heading (and I usually need more thrust than just one motor can provide). For anyone interested, it is a 30’ overall length boat, about 4 tons.

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