Nova Ray - News - April 17, 2004
EAST ALTON -- An anonymous donation
helped make a big splash in assisting Twin Rivers
Search and Rescue.
The search-and-rescue organization, which assists
law enforcement and medical professionals in water
rescues throughout the year, is getting a little
help of its own, said Peggy Williams, vice president
of the organization.
Williams said a submersible remotely operated
vehicle, called a Nova Ray, was donated to the
organization at the end of last month.
"We are really excited," Williams said.
"We have the first one in the country."
The taxi cab yellow ROV with its pectoral "wings"
looks more like a manta ray rather than a piece
of high-tech camera equipment. The 55-pound piece
of equipment can be operated by a single pilot
and is assisted by onboard computer software.
It can operate in water at speeds up to 9 knots
and at depths near 300 meters.
Williams said Twin Rivers, along with Alton Volunteer
Emergency Corps, trained briefly on the ROV. The
two have an automatic mutual aid agreement.
"There were a few members that took a daylong
course on how to work it," she said.
She said the class, in which several members
were certified on the equipment, was held at the
YWCA and along Alton Riverfront Park in March.
On Sunday the search and rescue group took the
ROV out again near the Alton Marina.
The Nova Ray surveys underwater sites and transmits
video images to an operator. On the front of the
unit a camera sits behind a curved piece of glass
and sends images up through a digital communications
link. The system also includes scanning sonar
and tracking systems.
"This equipment can be more efficient than
divers," Williams said. "It can stay
underwater for an indefinite period of time and
can detect things in the mud."
Rescuers using the Nova Ray can record and document
everything that is detected below the water’s
"Everything is recorded on a disk,"
The Nova Ray’s price tag is $55,000 plus.
It was specifically developed by a company in
Washington state, Nova Marine Exploration Inc.,
so that it could be used in high-current environments.
The exploration company surveys, documents and
Also since the catastrophic events on Sept. 11,
2001, the exploration company doubled its efforts
in remote-operated vehicle development to meet
the needs of homeland security, specifically port
security and pipeline inspections.
Williams said one of the best things about the
system is its portability.
"It comes in three luggage-size containers,"
The system, which is 39 inches long and 47 inches
wide, is equipped with a digital camera, sensors
that give water temperature, lights and a 100-meter
umbilical cord that easily packs into two large
luggage containers. The computer is in a smaller
Williams said the rescue organization was pleased
to get such an enormous donation.
"We know this equipment cost a lot of money
and we are just really grateful," she said.
Twin Rivers has been serving the community and
educating the public for more than 44 years. The
group incorporated in September 1958. The original
name of the group was the Wood River Township
Volunteer Emergency Corp Inc. and the name was
changed in March 1986.
Williams said the organization is also looking
"We are getting into boating season, and
now more than ever we need volunteers," she
Those interested in finding out more can call