There are many exciting pieces of equipment and technology aboard the M/V Sea Hunter, from the ROV and submarine to the grappling claws and crane. One of the most trusty devices aboard the ship often goes ignored by newcomers on the ship, in favor of some of these flashier gadgets. Despite its relatively small size, the Mini Me has long been one of the most necessary items aboard the ship.
The Mini Me is a tender, which is a smaller boat that services a larger vessel, usually by bringing people or supplies from the larger ship to land. While many ships have tenders that can carry a hundred people or more, the Sea Hunter’s tender is much smaller than that and can only hold several people onboard. Despite her tiny size, this vessel has been extraordinarily useful in many Sub Sea missions.
Back in 2008 when Sub Sea Research first purchased the Sea Hunter in Houma, Louisiana, they were looking for a small inflatable to carry crew from the main ship to land. They discovered the Mini Me, which wasn’t exactly what they were looking for but seemed to be even better. This boat was tiny and made of aluminum, which would be useful in particularly rough weather. With her covered top, she would keep everyone aboard dry. They purchased the tender and set to work cleaning her up for use.
That fall of 2008 was dedicated to many fixer-upper projects. The Sea Hunter was in dire need of a clean-up, re-painting and needed to undergo some maintenance to be usable. While the many chores and projects continued, my dad put crewman Dave St. Cyr in charge of the new tender. Dave fixed her up, equipping lights so she could travel at night. He installed new bumpers on the sides of the tender, and painted her similar shades as the Sea Hunter. Because she ended up looking like a smaller version of the main vessel, the crew dubbed her Mini Me.
While out on the sea, the crew can use Mini Me to go back to shore to haul back groceries and other necessary items. If crew needed to get to shore for any reason, they would take Mini Me back. She has even been used at the wreck site. Sometimes a smaller vessel is needed to align buoys around the wreck, to identify it. The Mini Me is agile and can accomplish this task much quicker than a larger vessel could.
Over the past four years, both the Sea Hunter and Mini Me have become valuable parts of the every day life of the Sub Sea team. The crew puts in much effort to ensure the Sea Hunter is a safe and efficient place for them to live and work. The Mini Me is an extension of that. While she is much smaller and is not used as constantly as the Sea Hunter is, she is very much a big part of the mission and without her it would be much more of a challenge to accomplish the things the crew does.