Who We Are

The Seaglider Fabrication Center (SFC) of the University of Washington provides new Seagliders™, operator training, and glider refurbishment to internal (UW) customers. SFC is a division of the School of Oceanography, managed by Dr. Fritz Stahr.

On May 14, 2013, UW announced a new licensing agreement with Kongsberg Underwater Technology Inc. of Lynnwood, Washington to produce, market, and further develop Seaglider technology. SFC will be the primary conduit for transferring the technology, and will remain as the supplier of Seagliders to internal UW customers.  Kongsberg Underwater Technology is a supplier of advanced hydro-acoustic systems and underwater instrumentation including autonomous underwater vehicles, multi-beam echo sounders, sub-bottom profilers and integrated motion reference systems.  The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Kongsberg Maritime, the world leader in AUV technology. 

"We are extremely pleased to add Seaglider technology to Kongsberg’s market leading AUV product line,” said Tom Healy, President of Kongsberg Underwater Technology, Inc. “Seaglider will allow us to further expand into new segments of the marine technology market. It fits very well with our philosophy of providing comprehensive, full-picture, solutions to our customers."

A Seaglider holds the time and distance-travelled-unaided-by-current records for an AUV. SG144, owned by Dr. Charlie Eriksen (UW Professor, Physical Oceanography), working in the NE Pacific, traveled an excess of 5500 kilometers in 292 days (9.5 months) and was recovered on April 4, 2010.

July 2010: Seagliders monitoring oil vent plume, Senator Cantwell press conference, Senate Subcommittee Testimony

In May and June 2010, Seagliders from iRobot and NAVOCEANO flew in the Gulf of Mexico near the Deepwater Horizon oil well-head looking for the sub-surface plume using Colored-Disolved-Organic-Matter (CDOM) fluorescence as a proxy. You can find maps and links to data from those gliders and others at:


The blog commentary on glider ops and data is particularly good.

On July 6th, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), held a press conference in Seattle to announce that she is proposing legislation to put some sustained R&D funding in place to NOAA & the Coast Guard for new and improved technology for oil spill response and clean up. She invited four local organizations/guests to join her and make statements, including the Port of Seattle, the State Dept of Ecology, People for Puget Sound, and the new Dean of UW's College of the Environment, Dr Lisa Graumlich. On behalf of the Dean, Michelle Ackerman, CoEnv Director of Marketing and Communications, invited SFC to bring a Seaglider to the press conference and stand next to the podium representing potentially improvable technology that could monitor a sub-surface oil vent discharge such as was happening in the Gulf. There were a number of TV crews and reporters there, and the published stories are linked here:

At the end of the press conference, the Senator asked the Dean exactly how a Seaglider worked and detects oil, and the Dean in turn asked SFC Manager Fritz Stahr to explain, which he did with cameras rolling.

Based on the press conference experience, Stahr was asked to testify on July 21st to the US Senate Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Ocean, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard at a hearing titled "Turning Ideas into Action: Ensuring Effective Clean Up and Restoration in the Gulf". (Senator Cantwell is chair of this subcommittee.) You can find Stahr's testimony here and the whole record of the hearing, including full video and all written testimony, here. In his testimony, Stahr mentioned specifically development of the Deepglider for reaching down to the bottom of the plume (~1300m deep) as well as to where the well-head is (~1800m deep), and adding an oil sensor, such as HydroC-PAH from Contros GmbH, to a any glider to explicitly detect oil, versus some proxy for oil. Later on July 21st, Senator Cantwell put out a press release regarding the hearing and her proposed bill. There were many other interesting witnesses, including from NOAA HazMat/Ops (Helton), USCG R&D (Sisson), Oil Spill Response Institute (Pegau), and Coastal Response Research Center (Kinner).

If you have any questions and/or comments on the above, please contact Fritz Stahr.

See articles about the Seaglider™ in UW online news:

University Week The Daily of UW

October 15, 2009

March 11, 2008

April 30, 2009

March 30, 2007

April 7, 2005

February 5, 2004

As of July 2010, 85 units have been delivered to eight different institutions and 87 have been ordered:

Domestic: UW (6 different PIs), Univ of Hawaii (2 different PIs), Oregon State Univ, US Navy

International: Univ of Cyprus (Nicosia, Cyprus), Alfred Wegner Institute (Bremerhaven, Germany), Australian National Facility for Ocean Gliders (Perth, Australia), Scottish Association for Marine Science (Oban, Scotland)

The Seaglider Fabrication Center offers three primary products to UW faculty/staff only (see Kongsberg Seaglider if you are not a UW employee):