June 29, 2009

The End

Pictures in cut at bottom!

We did maintenance and Stephen ended up picking up extra spares for the strobe lights in the morning. In the afternoon, we decided it was go time for our fearless secondary pilot to take the helm. After Kyle was ballasted into the hull, he got his first run in. All was not meant to be, though. Kyle started off alright, but ended up making a hard left at about the 45 meter light pole and ended up in the wall at about a 90 degree angle. He completed quite a task though. He managed to crack Mercury’s nose, he hit the nose so hard. This would not deter Mercury for her quest for five knots though. Soon enough the sub was up to the staging area and Kyle was beginning to be loaded. The Venezuelan boat forced us to stand down from our first lock and load. Then when Mercury finally did lock and load, a slip of a hand and the e-buoy was off. This forced an aborted run.

After this, and due to the fact that some in water maintenance was going to be done, Patrick was back at the helm. It turns out Kyle hit the wall so hard that he managed to loosen one of the keyways in the drive train. Once the in water maintenance was complete, Mercury was lucky to make get two more solid runs in to end the day, and at the end of the day was hot on the heels of five knots, finishing the day with a max speed of 4.83 knots.

Friday saw an earlier entry onto the base for the team, with the managers meeting being moved up a half an hour. Then the team group aerial photo was taken with all boats. The team was excited and determined to reach 5 knots and the dive team was ready to go when the pictures were finished and Mercury was the first boat in the water for the day. The day did not start off flawlessly though. A historic screwdriver failed the team once again, but after some quick maintence by the team, the handle was back on the hatch. After some fine tuning of the ballasting, the sub was ready for the first run of the morning.

Once the sub was locked and loaded, pilot Patrick Trabert made what he called a ‘slow’ run that did not compare to the last run of yesterday. Well, while he is a great pilot, his thoughts on speed were better left up to the expert timing staff, because they came back to tell us the we had broken five knots!

With a new school record under his belt, Mercury was quickly locked and loaded, but became stuck in a long queue as every team was trying to maximize the last day of competition. The ballasting though became an issue when some foam came loose between races and Mercury breeched the surface, cancelling any chance that this run would be notable. After the run, due to the extensive cue, the team decided it was time for an early lunch.

After a great lunch with several of the DC area alumni association stopping by, the Mercury was back in the cue for what would turn out to be her last showing at the 10th ISR and possibly her last pass in competition. This would prove to be memorable for all the wrong reasons. Patrick started as the navy divers described as ‘incredibly fast’. Unfortunately though, he as launched diving and did not have enough time to correct before scraping the bottom several times. He then ended up breeching near the right wall and it looked like the run was going to be aborted. Patrick though was not going to be denied a finish and managed to get the sub back on course and finish strong, a testament to his perseverance and mastery of the control.
Due to the fact that time was becoming short on the course, the team decided to take the remainder of the time to test the newly sealed automatic buoyancy control system. Mercury was one of the last ones out of the water.

As a thank you to the navy divers, Mercury was offered to be piloted by a Navy diver in an all navy throw down in the head to head matchups that were being put on for the end of the competition, but time was too short for this to happen.

Dive Sup was not going let this be the end of the competition though, he wanted his last race to end in style, and a swimoff to Dive Sup was proposed, with a cash prize as the reward. With his pride on the line, pilot Patrick Trabert gladly entered into the competition. After a close start, all that iron man experience paid off and Patrick had pulled away by mid course and won the race by a couple lengths. This was a great way for the team to end the competition and start the next sub.

After that, the team packed up the trailer and attended the banquet, where Patrick was able to collect his winnings. The team then went to Denny’s and had desert on the lead and ended up discussing the 11th ISR, which it is already excited to attend.

The team got a good night’s sleep, and returned the Wilson center. The drive was not just driving though, the team discussed plans for the coming year and closed out some of the financial tasks to finish the year. The team then promptly unloaded the trailer and headed off into the sunset to begin work for the 11th ISR.

All in all, it was a great experience for the team, getting to see all of its hard work in action, learn a ton and really to gel as a team. We hope to take the momentum we gained (and money) and use that to build a new and hopefully even more successful hull.

We would like to thank everyone who made this possible. We want to especially thank all of our sponsors and the University for all of the support. Professor Beck, we would like to thank you for coming out to the race and for all of the insight through the year. Also a big shout out to all of the alumni and families who came out to the race, especially those unexpected contributions. It is alumni like you that make it truly great to be a Michigan wolverine. I also would like to thank the rest of the team, you guys are and awesome bunch, and really made this an experience I could never forget.

Click below to see some pictures!!

Continue reading "The End"

Posted by sncurtis at 12:20 AM | Comments (0)

June 24, 2009

Tuesday and Wednesday June 23 and 24, 2009


Tuesday morning, we woke up and arrived early at the base. We finished fixing the sub. We then took the sub back in and got ballasted. In the morning, then we completed our first successful run of the race. We pulled the sub for a bit of maintenance and for some food and a break. We got back in the water, reballasted and unfortunately did not complete it shearing the same pin we did before. Once the sub was out, we began doing calculations and determining our plan. The team took these thoughts with them to a trip of the hardware store and looked for a stronger pin. Then the team relaxed and had a successful team dinner. After that, we were all ready for bed and returned for prompt sleep. 11 hours on a base diving and in heat takes a lot out of the team.


The team arrived early on Wednesday and was ready to work. The inconsistent emergency buoy was solved and it working "uh uh good" (quoting pilot Patrick Trabert). We also used our high strength steel pin and got the drive train pinned together. While the maintenance was taking place, the submarine received some paint touch-ups. We also took the team picture. Once we had an early lunch, we were back in the water. After a untimely lunch stand down, we were in the water and underway with the first run of the afternoon. We gained some speed. We made two more successful runs and improved our speed some more. We got up to 4.1 knots and are hoping to be headed to five knots tomorrow! The team did dinner in Bethesda and now are on our way to head back to get a good nights rest for some early morning outfitting and hope to be back in the water soon.

Posted by forrestd at 10:09 PM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2009

We are racing!

When you last heard from us, we were making the final preparations at the Wilson Student Team Project Center in Ann, Arbor. We had spent an eventful morning in final preparations and reassembling the systems. At around 4:00 pm we left for Fairfax, VA where we would be staying.

The drive to the race was going to take ten hours; however we input the address wrong and ended up an hour out of our, adding two hours to our journey. Except for the sidetrack, the drive was smooth with no problems. There was a storm as we went through Pennsylvania which slowed traffic, but it passed within an hour.

Arriving in Fairfax, we grabbed a few hours of sleep before waking up and going to the host hotel for registration. Once we picked up our badges and filled out the rest of our paperwork, we headed to the David Taylor Model Basin at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Bethesda, MD to setup our camp and prepare the sub for a dry safety inspection. We arrived before most teams and were able to secure a good spot to park the trailer. While the major systems were in working order, we still had to complete a few small tasks to have the sub ready to race. We painted safety markings on the hatch and propellers, and made sure that our safety buoy deployed properly. The divers got cleared to dive by the dive supervisor. At the end of the afternoon we were cleared to do our in water safety checks the next day.

The evening was filled with the opening dinner and contestant briefing where we were informed of the many special rules that we must comply with while on the Naval Base. The team is very grateful to the Navy for hosting this event in their facilities. After the dinner most of the team headed to Jesse’s to help in move into his new apartment (Jesse helped to design our propellers and received a job at the Carderock facility where the race is held). Everyone was quite tired after the long drive the night before and the long day in the sun, so we all went to bed quite early.


Today we were able to complete our safety checks and have the sub ballasted properly by 11:00 AM. After a brief break to give the divers a short rest, we attempted our first run of the competition. Things did not go well for Mercury as we broke a pin in the drive train linkage early into the run. We also ran into the wall and damaged part of our nose cone. There was some initial concern because we were initially told by the race officials that we had broken our drive shaft. Thankfully it turned out that it was only a pin, but we were still delayed as we had to take the sub out of the water to figure out the problem and change the pin.

At 2:00 PM we gave our presentation to the judges. Technical issues, this time with the projector, delayed the presentation a half hour, however it went smoothly once we got started. After the presentation we fixed the drive train and checked to make sure that it was all functioning right. We are going to revise our starts to allow a more gradual acceleration to top speed and ensure that we don’t break the pin again. Dan worked on the electronic ballast system most of the day and is confident that it will be ready to go later on Tuesday.
After we realized that we would not get into the water for another run, we spent some time finishing some painting that had been neglected in the rush to have the major systems ready for the race.

Posted by sncurtis at 09:55 PM | Comments (0)

June 20, 2009


We are packing up and the trailer is 90% loaded. We have had delays, reroutes and connection issues on our way in, but we are getting up to speed. We still have alot of small tasks to finish prior to safety check, but are pry going to take to the road soon and work from Maryland. We are excited for the opportunity and are ready to get the sub in the water. We are hoping to see our first full pass Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning at the lastest.

More tonight hopefully.

Posted by sncurtis at 02:52 PM | Comments (0)

June 19, 2009

Packing Begins!

The trailer is now out in front of the Wilson center and we will be packing and on the road in about 24 hours I hope!

Posted by sncurtis at 02:09 AM | Comments (0)

June 09, 2009


Welcome the the blog that will cover the Human Powered Submarine team while we finish preparation and participate in the 10th International Submarine Race. More will come in the days leading up to the race which begins June 22. We look forward to having you with us here.

HPS '08-'09

Posted by sncurtis at 11:51 PM | Comments (0)