One of the problems in towing an instrument underwater, is the long length of cable required to get the device down to depth. A typical ratio of cable length to tow depth is 4 to 1, which means 400 feet of cable is required to tow at a depth of 100 feet. Increase the tow speed and even more cable is needed to get to depth. To overcome this problem a depressor wing is used. With the wing, the ratio is cut in half which means the equipment can be towed at a depth of 100 feet using only 200 feet of cable. The advantage is obvious; no more piles of cable on the boat deck and smaller, less expensive cable handling systems can be used.
In the past, many of these depressors were custom made to fit specific equipment. This meant the wings were expensive and had limited applications. JW Fishers saw the solution to these problems as a universal wing that could be used with any type of equipment, and developed the DDW-1 deep dive wing. The DDW is assisting a variety of users from government agencies and universities, to police departments and marine service companies. The list of government groups using the wing is extensive and includes the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service, the Argentine Navy, and the Maritime Administration of Latvia. Institutions of higher education employing this device are as geographically diverse as their applications for the wing. They extend from the Univeristy of South Carolina to University of Alaska. The collection of marine services companies using the DDW-1 cover a broad spectrum, from giants like Ireland's Korec Group to privately owned civil engineering companies like Isreal's Merterre.
Taking advantage of the wing's diving ability is a broad range of equipment in a variety of applications. The Fisheries Service is using their wing in conjunction with the TOV-1 towed underwater camera system to survey reefs and other marine ecosystems. The Office of Emergency Services in Fairfield, California and the Buffalo Police Dept. in New York also operate a towed camera with the DDW-1. They use it to search for deep water drowning victims. The Argentine Navy and Varna Diving Company in Bulgaria both use their wings with a proton magnetometer to search for sunken vessels. Sources Equipment LLC in the United Arab Emirates also use the DDW with a proton mag, but their primary mission is to locate and track oil pipelines. A number of law enforcement agencies are using the depressor wing with the side scan sonars to search for drowning victims, submerged vehicles, and capsized boats. These departments include the Allegan County Sheriff in Michigan and Suffolk County Police on Long Island.
One of the most interesting projects involving the deep dive wing is the search for a historic shipwreck being undertaken on the north east coast of England. A consortium made up of members from the Filey Town Council and the Filey Underwater Research unit are using the wing with an underwater metal detector in a hunt for the remains of the Bonhomme Richard. Commodore John Paul Jones of the American Continental Navy fought a battle from this vessel which has been described as "a brilliant action at sea of classic proportions".