Bingen, WA — November 2, 2016 — Many weeks of slow and costly slogging through ice and fog might have been in store for a workboat fleet, sent a thousand miles from the nearest port to retrieve massive anchors from mooring sites spread across the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. But the lead ship was equipped with Flexrotor, a small unmanned aircraft built specifically for long-range imaging reconnaissance at sea. It had been brought as an experiment, but as soon as it started flying it turned into an essential tool. Little more than two weeks later, after five flights totaling 19 hours, the mission was complete. Flexrotor had guided the fleet through the labyrinthine ice; all of the seafloor gear had been retrieved; and the fleet was bound for home weeks ahead of schedule.