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Cortland’s highest strength rope to be used in ocean’s deepest trench

WHOI Plasma HiCoCortland, global designer and manufacturer of engineered synthetic ropes, has won a significant new order from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) to supply a single 12,000 meter length of 9/16” Plasma® HiCo synthetic rope.

The rope will be used on WHOI’s new Ocean Class research vessel, R/V Neil Armstrong, to take core samples from the selected sites around the globe as well as the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean, the world’s deepest ocean trench.

WHOI elected to use this synthetic rope over wire because of the benefits provided by its superior breaking strength – the maximum length of a vertical column of the material that could suspend its own weight when supported only at the top – which is crucial in work being carried out at this depth. It also has the highest strength and lowest stretch available in a rope of this length. 

HiCo also retains all of the features and benefits of standard Plasma ropes with the added characteristic of an increased coefficient of friction coating to allow for better gripping in applications such as traction winch systems. Synthetic rope is also easier to maintain and handle than wire.

Cortland was granted the award because of their technical expertise and the real world performance of Cortland’s BOB rope which WHOI previously used in their work.

Consideration is now being given to using Plasma HiCo to replace other wire assets in the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) community.

James Broda, Senior Research Specialist at Woods Hole, said: “Working in the extreme depths of the Mariana Trench presents huge challenges so it is essential that we can be confident that the materials we are using are fit for purpose and the best available. Cortland’s expertise and the proven performance of Cortland rope in previous projects combined with the technical specifications of the Plasma HiCo rope made it a natural choice for the Neil Armstrong.”

Howard Wright, Technical Sales, Cortland said: “We are very pleased to be working once again with WHOI to supply a rope which meets their very exacting requirements. Plasma® 12 strand is the highest strength synthetic rope available. This, combined with its breaking strength and low stretch level relative to the length of rope, makes it quite simply the best rope on the market for the vital research work being carried out by WHOI.”

About Cortland

Cortland provides worldwide experience in creating lightweight rope, slings, cables and umbilicals to the oil and gas, heavy marine, subsea, ROV, seismic, and medical markets.

Cortland is wholly owned by Actuant Corporation, a diversified industrial company serving customers from operations in more than 30 countries and headquartered in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. Actuant trades on the NYSE under the symbol ATU. For further information on Actuant and its businesses, visit the Company’s website at