That's what Polarcus calls its seismic survey ship Polarcus Amani, currently working off the coast of Myanmar. It's an odd-looking critter.
Popular Mechanics reports:
Registered in the Bahamas, Polarcus Amani is 300 feet long and displaces almost 8,000 tons. Her four propellers are rated at 3,000 horsepower apiece, providing enough pulling power to tow an array of seismic "streamers" more than a mile wide and 11 miles long. Altogether, the survey covers an area of about 6.8 square miles at a time, which is how Polarcus claims the record.
The streamers are the sensing part of a system that evolved out of submarine-hunting sonar. The working principle involves a similar use of reflected sound: The survey vessel generates pulses of high-intensity sound with underwater "air guns" made by Bolt Technology. The air guns may be fired every 20 seconds or so during surveying. The sound waves are reflected off the sea bed and get picked up by a series of microphones towed by the survey vessel.
The line of floating microphones is known as a streamer. Were earlier research vessels had a single streamer, modern vessels like Polarcus Amani tow multiple streamers to build up a complete 3D picture of the sea bed below. They can also carry out so-called 4D surveys in which the same area is mapped several times and the images overlaid to build up a more detailed picture.
There's more at the link, and in a news release from Polarcus.
I was curious to learn more about the ship, and found this video clip from the company that built her for Polarcus. If you're
I hadn't realized that specialized marine geological survey ships had gotten so advanced. I went to sea in the pre-GPS days of sextants and shooting compass bearings of coastal features, with a little help from Decca Navigator if you were lucky and the receiver was functioning (something that couldn't be guaranteed). The Polarcus Amani operates in a very different technological environment . . . but I can't help wondering how she'd cope if the radar and GPS went out!