"DOMAINS" is the acronym for a Deep Ocean Manned Instrumented Station. It is an extension of the Manned Underwater Station sponsored by the Naval Civil Engineering Laboratory, Port Hueneme, California. Electric Boat division of General Dynamics developed the prototype concept while under contract to NCEL. The object achieved with the Manned Underwater Station was the placement of man in the deep ocean at one atmosphere for extended periods of time. The object to be achieved by DOMAINS is to further develop this capability to accomplish work tasks at the bottom rather than from a surface support platform.
This paper presents a hardware concept to perform one specific task utilizing bottom support. The problem solved is that of taking bottom core samples in a methodical pattern to geologically map an undersea area. The need to obtain this degree of detailed data on a given site is a requirement which must be met in the near future if bottom and subbottom construction is to become a reality. An inherent advantage is that the sample may be taken at extremely accurate locations relative to a bench mark. A second advantage is that the operation is performed completely free of ocean surface weather. The concept eliminates the vulnerable link between a surface platform and the work site.
The paper first presents the basic concept of bottom support, and the associated constraints, as developed for the Manned Underwater Station. The requirements to accomplish the specific task of core sampling are established. With these requirements identified, an effective hardware system is then developed. The paper describes the major hardware to the point of feasibility.
Work in the deep ocean to date has been performed from surface supported operations in the shallower depths of the continental shelf. The work has also been limited to local concentrated areas. As a result we have barely started to scratch the surface of the great undersea world. It is obvious that as effort in the ocean progresses, operations will be forced from the shallower depths to the deeper depths. This can be observed from the progress made by the oil industry. The first efforts were drilling operations in the tens of feet of water. This later progressed to hundreds of feet and now over one thousand feet. When the operations of industry move to the next threshold, that of operating in thousands of feet of water, there will be a basic transition from the present surface supported operations to what is termed bottom supported operations. The bottom support concept means that power and other supporting elements will all be housed on the ocean floor. To date this transition has not-been started. The basic problem is one of economics and until it becomes economically feasible this type of operation cannot and will not be undertaken. However, there was a time when it was not economically feasible to venture into the ocean at all. But as we see today industry has ventured into the ocean.
In preparation for when we must venture into the deep ocean the Navy has started work.