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Videoray - News - February 15th, 2005

Under Ice Search Uses Multiple Micro-ROVs

VideoRays Used in Unique Shallow-water Search

New Orleans, Louisiana, February 15, 2005 - VideoRay announced today at Underwater Intervention the details of an unprecedented search using multiple VideoRay micro-ROVs in extreme conditions. The 3-day search took place from January 9th through the 11th on the frozen St. Lois River in Duluth, Minnesota.

Jim King the owner of Spirit Lake Marina off the St. Louis River fell out of his rear-tiller motorboat while marking the location of buoys on October 25, 2004. Since the accident there has been an ongoing search with no successful results largely because of large area and lack of witnesses who could identify a ‘point last seen’. Since the accident the St. Louis County Sheriffs office has logged more than 3000 hours of search time.

The latest effort to recover Mr. King’s body came in January when the St. Louis County Sheriffs office organized a massive rather unique search. The search occurred on the St. Louis River which was frozen over more than 15 inches. Eight VideoRay micro-ROVs were used for the search. The Sheriffs office developed a search grid covering a square half mile area.

We began the mission with meticulous planning and equipment testing stated Robin McCauley 1st Lieutenant St. Louis County Volunteer Rescue Squad. VideoRays, generators, tents, heaters, and other equipment required were pulled out onto the ice by snowmobiles and all terrain vehicles. Holes in the ice were cut with an “ice saw” – a standard Stihl chain saw with environmentally friendly lubricant.

Six identical micro-ROVs were operated simultaneously from portable ice houses on the frozen river. Each VideoRay was equipped with a Desert Star Pilot positioning system to track the ROVs and transmit the data wirelessly to the command center about a half mile from the tracking station.

“As far as we know, this is the first time in the world anyone has had this many ROVs (Remotely Operated Vehicles) together to search for a body,” commented Tom Crossmon of the St. Louis County Rescue Squad. Crossmon also said the worldwide ROV community is small; when they e-mailed members looking for advice, no one said they had encountered such a large recovery operation.

In addition to the rescue squad, Mark Gleason of Michigan Technical University participated with his VideoRay Pro III unit, the local US Coast Guard Duluth Station, and Douglas County, and Lake County sent several people to assist. VideoRay sent Scott Bentley, President, and Marcus Kolb, Director of Research and Development. VideoRay donated the use of six VideoRay Pro units, and used the operation to conduct research into the use of micro-ROVs for a large scale, shallow water, under ice search.

“The result of the search was better than expected – we were able to search a large section of the river. We did not find the body – but we know far better where it is not located. We also learned that sonar was a critical tool in this kind of search due to the severely restricted visibility of the water. We recommend that VideoRay owners use the new “performance tether” when operating in this kind of high current environment, since it has much less drag, and with multiple holes and shallow water we did not need to use very long sections of tether. Finally, the positioning system was key to making sure that the areas searched were the areas we expected” stated McCauley.

For comments, contact: David Phillips, Undersheriff St. Louis County Sheriff's Office, Duluth , MN , PH: 218-726-2339, e-mail:

For pictures and videos online, visit

Contact VideoRay Public Relations : Chris Gibson, ph: 610-458-3000

Contact VideoRay LLC · 400 Eagleview Blvd. · Exton , PA 19341 USA · Phone: (610) 458-3000 · FAX: (610) 458-3010 ·

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