Take a look at this enormous ship! I saw it today docked at San Diego’s B Street Pier, across from the Cruise Ship Terminal. The vessel, with what appears to be a helicopter pad high above its bow, is so huge I spotted it several blocks from San Diego’s Embarcadero!
The Normand Energy is a Pipe Layer vessel built in 2007, sailing under the flag of Norway. I was curious why such an unusual ship is visiting San Diego, so I searched the news.
It turns out the Normand Energy was chartered by Global Sea Mineral Resources (GSR) to test the Patania II, a deep-sea mining prototype. But on April 25 Patania II became detached from its 5 kilometer (over 3 miles!) cable and became stranded on the Pacific Ocean floor!
According to this article, the “25-tonne mining robot prototype was trialed in the Clarion Clipperton Zone in the Pacific since April 20. The machine was supposed to collect nodules rich in cobalt and other battery metals…such minerals would be used to supplement in-demand electronic products and energy storage such as smartphones, laptops, solar panels, wind turbines, and electric vehicles…”
According to this article, a recovery mission successfully retrieved Patania II on April 29.
Environmentalists including Greenpeace oppose deep-sea mining and the damage to the ocean bottom that would result, but ironically the rare earth elements that could be extracted are required for various components in clean energy technology.
If you’re curious about the whereabouts of the Clarion Clipperton Zone and what this “geological submarine fracture zone” is exactly, here’s a fascinating Wikipedia article.
Check out additional photographs of the Normand Energy that I took from various angles. The next two are from the Broadway Pier…
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