Washington College Magazine

Underwater Studies Looking Up With Lookdown

July 25, 2013
The newest addition to Washington College’s fleet is called Lookdown, an eponymous name if ever there was one, since this boat’s primary function is to enable College students, faculty and researchers to do exactly that.

 Mapping the seafloor of the Chester River is a priority for the College’s Center for Environment & Society as part of its long-term goal to better understand the riverine system and its parent, the Chesapeake Bay.  A purpose-built platform like Lookdown will make this work more efficient, accurate and instructive for College students. 

“To have a boat dedicated to underwater mapping at an undergraduate institution, which will equip students with experience to rival that of graduate institutions, is extremely rare,” says Douglas Levin, CES associate director. A former scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Levin knew about the boat’s mapping abilities and realized the research opportunities it would bring to Washington College students. To conduct underwater mapping for NOAA, Lookdown—formerly a fast, heavy-duty Coast Guard port security vessel (bullet-proof hull and all)—underwent an upgrade that included adding extensive sonar equipment and a custom-built aluminum cabin. 

Lookdown’s captain, Michael Gosman, says another bonus is the boat’s size. Small and versatile, it needs few crew and is easily hauled from the water and trailered to different research areas. “Lookdown’s small size will also allow scientists to map and conduct research on delicate coastal environments which were not previously accessible using larger research vessels,” Gosman says. “This type of technology will allow for strategic environmental planning as well as invaluable research experience.”

Last modified on Jul. 25th, 2013 at 9:56am by Kristen Hammond.