October 20, 2009

Designing a Deeper-Diving Human

Occupied Vehicle (HOV) Replacement

Project Overview:

Plans are underway at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to design and construct a deeper-diving research submersible. The replacement human occupied vehicle (HOV) will be capable of reaching more than 99 percent of the seafloor to depths of 6,500 meters.

Major upgrades offered by the HOV design include:

  • Better visibility and lighting for the pilot and two observers, with five windows--called view ports--instead of the three on the current submersible
  • A variable ballast system that will enable the vehicle to hover to conduct mid-water research at multiple depths anywhere in the water column on a single dive
  • Improved ergonomics and more space in the 2.1-meter (7-foot) diameter personnel sphere for the pilot and two scientists
  • The ability to carry heavier science payloads, and more storage space for samples
  • Improved sensors, tools and data collection systems
  • Improved maneuverability and manipulation, and upgraded navigation systems
  • Higher speed data communication with the surface ship, and via satellite to shore
  • Able to dive 40 % deeper than ALVIN (to depths of 6500 m)
  • A faster descent speed, and faster submerged forward speed

Vehicle Specifications and Overview (pdf)

Conceptual drawing of the deep-diving human occupied vehicle under design as a replacement HOV. Illustration by E. Paul Oberlander, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Click on "Replacement HOV movie" to view a movie of the HOV replacement design:

<Replacement HOV movie>

(QuickTime document, 12.8 MB)

Project Management and Oversight:

Construction Schedule for HOV Replacement (Hull & Vehicle) (pdf)

Additional Information:

Additional information about the project, RHOC Committee, and background material can be found in the documents listed below:


Rev Date

RHOC Members

20 Oct 2009
Committee Charge (pdf) 15 Jul 2004
Replacement HOV Update (pdf) 9 Nov 2006
RHOV Planned Available Scientific Sensors (pdf) 2 Nov 2005

RHOV Viewport Options and Community Response:

27 Nov 2006
27 Nov 2006
20 Dec 2006
20 Dec 2006
Background Documents :
2 Aug 2002
22 Jan 2003
20 May 2003
20 May 2003
28 March 2002
WHOI Press Release:
Oceanus Magazine: Building the Next-Generation Alvin Submersible - Plan offers a roadmap to extend sub's diving capacity to reach 99 percent of the seafloor. <http://www.whoi.edu/oceanus/viewArticle.do?id=53066> 10 Nov 2008

WHOI's Press Release, "Deeper-Diving Human Occupied Submersible to Replace Alvin, New 6500-meter vehicle will provide expanded capabilities for US Scientists, <http://www.whoi.edu/media/2004_Alvin_replacement.html>

6 Aug 2004
Photo Gallery:
 HOV Sphere Mock-Up  9 Nov 2004

Community Input:

Comments and feedback from the deep submergence science community are encouraged. Comments can be sent to Cindy Van Dover, RHOC Chair, and will be made available to the RHOC. Contact information for Cindy is contained on the RHOC member list posted above.

Replacement HOV Oversight Committee: RHOC Internal Documents