The vessels and equipment used by Aurora to locate, map and survey shipwrecks and artifacts on the ocean floor.


The Fortaleza
The Fortaleza is the support vessel for Aurora’s operations. It has a range of over 2400 nautical miles and is self sufficient for long projects which take place away from ports of call. The vessel provides living quarters for the directors, crew, sonar operators, ROV pilots and scientists participating in the Trust’s survey projects. A purpose-built workspace on the middle deck is where the survey equipment is stored, maintained and repaired. Fortaleza also carries two RIBs which provide auxiliary services for diving and transport operations.

The Isis
The Isis is a 27 foot purpose-built research vessel. All Aurora’s equipment are deployed and operated from this vessel. Inside the cabin, sonar operators and scientists control and oversee survey operations. Likewise, an ROV operator drives the vehicle from the cabin of the ISIS in the presence of one or more scientists that are on board. To ensure high level of accuracy during survey work, the vessel has a Trimble DGPS installed which is linked to all the survey equipment. The ISIS is towed throughout the Mediterranean by the Fortaleza by means of a purpose-built harness.

Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) Seaeye® Falcon
Remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) are unmanned underwater robots operated by a person from the surface. The link to the surface is provided by a cable referred to as an umbilical. Via a series of electric signals which travel to and from the ROV the operator is able to guide the vehicle as well as control the various tools attached to the ROV. Such tools could include video and stills cameras, lights, arms for lifting objects as well as other specialized instruments. ROVs are especially important for archaeologists because they permit the exploration of deepwater sites that would be otherwise out of reach of conventional diving.

Combined Klein® Sub Bottom Profiler 3310 with the System 3000 Side Scan Sonar
The sub-bottom profiler is an ‘acoustic tool’ used to map sediments below the sea bed and is used by archaeologists to detect objects buried in the seabed. A transducer emits a sound pulse downwards towards the seabed, and a receiver records the return of the pulse that bounced off the seabed. Parts of the sound pulse will penetrate the seabed and be reflected off of the different sub-bottom layers as well as anomalies that may be present. Data obtained using this system provide information sediment layers and targets within them.


Klein® System 3900 side Scan Sonar
Side scan sonar can be defined as an under sea imaging system using narrow beams of acoustic energy (sound) transmitted out to the side of the towfish and across the bottom. Sound is reflected back from the bottom and from objects to the towfish. These sonar images of the seabed are very useful to the archaeologist.