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NZDF launches buoy to study huge waves

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 9/02/2017

The crew of the HMNZS Otago have launched a moored wave buoy in the Southern Ocean to study and help predict the huge waves commonly described by sailors as "liquid Himalayas".

The buoy is about 10km south of sub-Antarctic Campbell Island, the furthest south such a device has been deployed.

The Otago, an offshore patrol vessel, is in the early stages of a two-week resupply mission to the island, which is home to six species of albatross and the world's rarest duck.

The buoy is part of a project between the Defence Technology Agency and MetOcean Solutions.

DTA researcher Sally Garrett says it will be used to gather data like wave height and direction over the next six months.

She says Southern Ocean waves remain largely unstudied.

"The wave buoy will characterise what waves are present," she said.

"This information will help us assess how well our forecasting models are predicting these waves."

The launch required low sea states, which happens about once in 15 days in the sub-Antarctic region.

Lieutenant Commander Andrew Sorensen said there was sense of relief and excitement on the Otago when the job was completed, given the rough weather and the complexity of launching a buoy with 500kg of shackle attached.

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