From laboratory to ocean - sending Argo floats to sea.

September 14 2004

Loading the floats

On one of the many sunny days in Southern California, 24 Solo floats were carefully packed into a shipping container ready for deployment in the South Pacific. Their destination was Papeete in French Polynesia where they will be loaded onto the french Research Vessel L'Atalante for deployment in October.

Over the coming weeks we will keep you updated on what happens to these floats.

Here is the first picture gallery.

The first step on the journey to the ocean is the careful construction of the Solo floats in the laboratory at Scripps and the packing of the floats into their shipping/deployment boxes.

A batch of float pressure cases and a completed instrument
Salinity/temperature sensors



We are using a 20 foot refrigerated container because the floats may have to sit on the dockside for some days in Papeete and overheating is not good for the floats or sensors.

The floats are protected against shock by foam packing.

Float label


Each float is individually packed in its deployment box, wrapped in polythene and labelled showing both the address and the fact that the floats contain lithium batteries. The container is labelled too.

The Argo Steering Team Chairman is there to lend a hand and finally the packing is complete........

........the paperwork is done and the truck leaves for Long Beach and then Papeete.

And here (in red) are the deployment sites

L'Atalante photo diary, part 2

November 12 2004

The float container finally left the port of Long Beach, California on September 23 and arrived in Papeete on October 4 where it awaited the arrival of the Atalante and where the container's air-conditioning unit kept the floats cool despite the tropical temperatures.

Papeete Harbour
Atalante in port
Glenn Pezzoli and Mike McClune from SIO the arrived to check and load the floats onboard. They also took the opportunity to reprogram the floats so as to correct a small software glitch that had been discovered since the floats left California.

Temporary_workplace Loading
Mike sets to work checking the floats that are then loaded on board

L to R Mike McClune (SIO), Glenn Pezzoli (SIO),
Herve Claustre (Chief Scientist, IFREMER), Claudie Marec (IFREMER)

The floats are safely stowed in the hangar, top left

L'Atalante sailed on October 23 with Claudie Marec in charge of deployments. The first float 2334 (WMO 5900675) was deployed on October 24th and delivered its first profile 10 days later.  See the first data at

L'Atalante photo diary, part 3

January 21 2005

Deployment of the floats from Atalante. All floats are working as planned.

Deck Prep
Preparing on deck
Lowering over the side
hit water
Almost free
Box opening