The Magazine for Underwater Professionals

Sep/Oct 2014


Airborne ROVs

US Navy EOD technicians following the bundled CRRCs

SeaBotix, USA, reports that its vLBV300 ROV has taken part in a groundbreaking MCM test exercise put on by the US Navy’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Training and Evaluation Unit One (EODTEU ONE) in San Diego, USA. Two small combat rubber raiding craft (CRRC) containing the vLBV and an AUV were launched from a C-130 aircraft via parachute to the ocean off Southern California and followed by a contingent of US Navy EOD technicians.


It is estimated the equipment hit the surface of the ocean at up to six metres per second in the partially-inflated CRRCs. The team then readied the gear and deployed the AUV to scan for any targets.



“Once a suspicious object was located with the AUV, target data was uploaded to the SeaBotix vLBV control console and then the vLBV was piloted to the target for positive identification. The target was confirmed at approximately 54 metres in less than three hours, significantly reducing the typical time required for the same operation done traditionally, while reducing the number of personnel required,” said a spokesman.


He added: “The SeaBotix vLBV300 enables high risk underwater operations by reducing diving hazards to personnel, mission time and number of team members required to complete operations. One participant contacted a SeaBotix representative after the exercise to thank them for making ‘extremely rugged equipment’”.

  • vLBV in the water
Atlantas Marine introduces Swiss Army Knife for ROVs

UK-based Atlantas Marine reports the launch of Dextera, a 1000-metre depth rated subsea multi-tool “ideal for observation and light intervention class ROVs”.


The company said Dextera is designed and engineered to save time and money. Its proportional control and interchangeable toolheads make it more versatile and capable than other comparable tooling available on the market today, according to the Somerset-based firm.


“The best way I can describe it is basically like a subsea Swiss Army Knife; by changing just the head it can be an ultra-precise manipulator, a cutter, a torque wrench or a cleaning brush. There are heads in development for such a wide range of tasks that calling it a manipulator is underselling just how game-changing Dextera is,” said Atlantas Marine’s sales and marketing coordinator, Fi Edwards.


The company’s managing director, Charlie Foll, added: “Dextera is an extremely exciting product which presents a smart address to the challenges faced by ROV operators in the growing small ROV market. The response has been phenomenal and the first orders are already pending.” 
First tidal energy generator for Wales
Wales’ first full-scale tidal energy generator was unveiled in August at Pembroke Port by The First Minister of Wales, the Rt. Hon. Carwyn Jones.

The patented DeltaStream device developed by Cardiff-based tidal stream technology company Tidal Energy Ltd is to be installed in Ramsey Sound, Pembrokeshire, and will be amongst the world’s first demonstration devices to generate green, sustainable and predictable tidal power.


EU funds worth GB£8 million delivered through the Welsh government has been invested in the project, with match funding from majority shareholder, Welsh renewable energy company Eco2 Ltd.

Martin Murphy, managing director of Tidal Energy, said: “This is a significant milestone for us as a company and for the industry as a whole. We have achieved a number of firsts with this project, including those relating to the environmental consents, the grid connection and the installation process – where the turbine and foundation are installed together.


“The imminent launch of DeltaStream, and the supply chain that now exists as a consequence of its development, marks the birth of the tidal industry in Wales. We remain committed to leading the expansion of this industry and to the creation of green jobs by building on the wealth of expertise present in this region and the country’s plentiful resources.”
Technip fined for diving incident

Technip Oceania Pty Ltd, Australia, has been convicted and fined AU$70,000 by the Perth Magistrates Court in Western Australia for specific breaches of Schedule 3 of Australia’s Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (OPGGS Act).


Technip pleaded guilty to two charges for failing as an employer to: take all reasonably practicable steps to implement and maintain systems of work that were safe and without risk to health; and provide employees with the information, instruction, training and supervision necessary for them to carry out their work in a manner that was safe and without risk to health.


The successful prosecution followed Australian government statutory agency NOPSEMA’s (National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority) investigation into an accident that occurred in waters within the offshore area of Western Australia. The accident involved a diver who suffered a serious injury to an arm whilst operating high-pressure water blasting equipment subsea.



In passing sentence, the magistrate noted that “safety provisions, even with complex supporting safety systems are only effective if they are followed and not put aside for convenience”.


He went on to state that “the offences are still serious, as they involve people ignoring the need for full compliance and furthermore, those people who ignored those requirements were informed, competent people working under a complex safety regime, and they made a decision effectively that concerned themselves”.


“There is no point in having a multi-layered complex safety system if it simply can be ignored and for that reason the breaches are serious,” he said.


After the sentencing, NOPSEMA CEO Jane Cutler noted that “NOPSEMA is determined to pursue breaches of the offshore petroleum legislation where employers have failed to provide a safe working environment”.


“Our priority is to ensure that operators and employers effectively manage risks to the health and safety of workers on offshore petroleum facilities to a level that is as low as reasonably practicable,” she said.

Divex secures multi-million pound contract for new saturation diving system

Divex, UK, has been contracted by Singapore shipyard Keppel Singmarine (KSM) for the engineering design, supply and installation of a 300-metre depth 18-man twin bell/twin hyperbaric lifeboat saturation diving system to be classed by DNV.


The diving system, which will include an air/nitrox surface diving capability, is to be installed upon a newbuild vessel for the BP Exploration Shah Deniz II Project in the Caspian Sea. The vessel, which is to be 155 metres long with a beam of 32 metres, is being purpose built for the construction phase of the project.



The vessel will be constructed in KSM’s Singapore yard in two longitudinal halves of 16 metres beam each. These will then be transported into the Caspian Sea through the canal linking to the Black Sea. The vessel will be completed in the Baku Shipyard, Azerbaijan, for delivery in 2017.


The dive system is to comprise two side mate diving bells mated to individual TUP chambers. The divers are housed in five saturation chambers. The diving bells will be deployed using the Divex pioneered triple winch guide wireless system which eliminates the traditional clump weight. Divex standard products include Gasmizer, Gaspure and Helipure gas recovery systems and the Kinergetic range of environmental conditioning and life support systems.


Manufacture will be distributed around various Divex global facilities including Aberdeen and Glasgow, Scotland, South Africa and Australia.

  • Inside the living chamber
Nautronix commissions largest NASDive digital diver comms system
  • NASDive being used on MV 'Belos'

Nautronix, UK, the provider of through water communication and positioning technology to the offshore industry, reports it has commissioned its largest NASDive digital diver communications system for GDA Sverige AB, Sweden. The commission forms part of an upgrade of the communication system on board the Swedish Navy’s submarine rescue vessel MV Belos.


The vessel provides support for the Swedish Navy, and is fitted with hyperbaric chambers to facilitate the rescue of submariners in the event of an incident. It was recently on an exercise with the NATO Submarine Rescue system. Following that exercise the chamber system upgrade took place, and included a full upgrade of the chamber communications system to NASDive. This involved communications to eight individual locations in each of four chambers, two further locations in each of five locks and transfer chambers plus an additional nine external communications locations, making an impressive total of 51 individual locations.


According to Nautronix, NASDive is unique in digitising all speech at source, as a result of which the many problems associated with signal losses in cabling and connectors are eliminated, resulting in clear communications at all times, along with improved unscramble algorithms and helium speech unscrambling, which are available for each communications location.



System cabling is also simplified by the use of CAT5 cabling to each location, or if unavailable VDSL on screen twisted pairs would be used, both of which allow standard telecoms hardware to be utilised topside. Ethernet hubs are used to marshal the signals, and control of the system is provided via a touch screen display and control unit.


Nautronix’s chief executive officer, Mark Patterson, said: “We are delighted to have supplied NASDive to GDA for the Swedish Navy and it is a significant order for Nautronix. We have recently focused on the development of NASDive and invested GB£1 million to refresh our diver communications product line which shows our commitment to the product and for the Swedish Navy to be using the system on one of their vessels is a testament to the advantages it offers to divers.”

  • MV 'Belos'
Hydro-Lek manipulators chosen for Ageotec ROV
  • Ageotec's Pegaso ROV complete with Hydro-Lek manipulators

Hydro-Lek, UK, reports it has delivered two HLK-HD5 five-function manipulators to Italian ROV manufacturer Ageotec for an Italian Navy submarine research and rescue project. The manipulators have been fitted onto a Pegaso ROV system.


Ageotec was selected by COMSUBIN (the Italian Navy’s diver unit) to provide an open frame ROV system for visual and instrumentation research, object recovery and underwater rescue.



“This Pegaso system was tailored to our customer’s specification and we are delighted with its successful operation. We have fitted Hydro-Lek manipulators on many of our Pegaso ROVs on the basis of their performance and reliability,” said Giuseppe Di Stefano, managing director for Ageotec.


With a lift capacity of 40 kilograms, the Hydro-Lek HLK-HD5 is a rugged work-class arm and incorporates a continuous jaw rotate assembly and three hydraulic cylinders. Constructed from 316 stainless steel, HE30 aluminium and high-density polyethylene, the HLK-HD5 is designed for the smaller ROV for heavy-duty underwater tasks, said Hydro-Lek.

SeeTrack Neptune integrated into USVs

SeeByte, the UK-based specialist in smart software for unmanned maritime systems, and SeaRobotics, the US-based provider of autonomous and unmanned systems, have announced the integration of SeeByte’s SeeTrack Neptune with SeaRobotics’ family of general purpose unmanned surface vehicles as part of a Defence Research and Development Canada contract.


“SeeTrack Neptune provides a payload control architecture and real-time autonomy engine for unmanned systems to plan and execute well-known patterns of behaviour that expedite and optimise single vehicle and multi-vehicle operations. In other words, the operators plan what to do and SeeTrack Neptune decides how to do it,” said a spokesman.  



He added: “The four-metre SeaRobotics USV-2600 is a small but capable general purpose USV. It can be used for numerous applications and is able to accommodate specific designs. It is also highly manoeuvrable and is equipped with high efficiency hulls.” 


The integration will enable the USV to act as a relay to an unmanned underwater vehicle squad, according to the spokesman. This is an important step needed in order to enable over-the-horizon UUV operations, he said.  


SeeTrack Neptune can be run through SeeTrack Military, the technology used by EOD and clearance divers around the world to manage their off-board assets during dangerous and demanding missions.

Ashtead and ECA sign distributor agreement

Subsea equipment specialist Ashtead Technology, UK, has increased its product portfolio with an exclusive sales agreement with ECA Robotics for its range of specialist underwater inspection equipment.


The agreement with the French company is for the rights to sell the ECA Hytec range of advanced underwater inspection equipment including ROVs, manipulator arms, cameras and lights. As part of the agreement, Ashtead Technology will deliver dedicated sales support and product training on the equipment from its facility in Aberdeen.



Ashtead Technology’s product sales manager, Kevin Murray-Taylor, said: “This latest prestigious agreement further enhances our ability to supply customers with a wide range of the latest, high functioning inspection and monitoring equipment. In addition, our dedicated and highly skilled technical team is available to offer customers a superior service before, during, and after sale.”


ECA Robotics director Pierre-Emmanuel Gaillard said: “We foresee increasing demand for our underwater equipment due to its technological superiority, and we are delighted to be partnering with Ashtead Technology to provide an enhanced customer support solution.”

  • ECA Robotics' H800 ROV, now available from Ashtead Technology
Canadians rule at human-powered submarine races
  • The 'Omer 9' team, winners of the European International Submarine Races 2014

The week-long European International Submarine Races organised by the IMarEST (Institute of Marine Engineering, Science & Technology), UK, and hosted by QinetiQ, UK, in its Ocean Basin at Haslar – Europe’s biggest covered water freshwater space – resulted in Omer 9 from École de Technologies Supérieure Montreal in Canada winning the event for the second time. Ten teams from universities on three continents took part in the biennial races.


Another Canadian entry, Archimède from École Polytechnique de Montreal, was the runner up. Both teams received trophies of glass engraved by former Flag Officer Submarines Admiral Frank Grenier. Omer 9 also won the Agility/Endurance award for completing two laps of the course with the fastest time and no faults, and the greatest speed between timed gates reaching 7.1 knots.



The human-powered races, held this summer, saw the pilot (or pilots in the case of Omer 9’s two-man boat) as the sole source of propulsion, driving the submarines by pedalling fast and furiously whilst wearing scuba gear in the fully submerged craft.

  • 'Omer 9' in the Ocean Basin
Successful first test mission for Subsea 7 AIV

Subsea 7’s autonomous inspection vehicle (AIV) has successfully completed its first test mission in the UK North Sea for Royal Dutch Shell. A series of field trials were undertaken from the Subsea 7 vessel Normand Subsea for the company’s proprietary AIV technology this summer.


Graham Sharland, Subsea 7 vice president of Life of Field, said: “We are delighted with the achievements made on this first trial at an offshore facility. We are grateful to Shell for their support and commitment in helping Subsea 7 and our development partner, SeeByte (UK), bring this technology to the oil and gas sector. Maintaining subsea asset integrity is of prime importance to our clients and the AIV is one example of where Subsea 7 can bring new technology to meet this objective.”


Peter Griffiths, subsea engineering team lead at Shell, said: “The AIV is an exciting new technology and we are very pleased to support Subsea 7 in these final stages of its development. We look forward to the completion of the Shell new technology integration process and anticipate further collaboration to aim for eventual AIV deployment to enhance Shell’s UK Continental Shelf asset integrity surveillance.”

New ultra-portable mini-ROV from Planet Ocean

Surrey, UK-based Planet Ocean has announced it has been appointed the UK and Ireland distributor for the Canadian Deep Trekker range of remotely operated vehicles.


The innovative design of DTG2 is like no other ROV on the market, according to the company.



“Powered by on-board rechargeable batteries negating the need for a bulky surface power supply, Deep Trekker offers many advantages over the typical topside-powered ROVs. The on-board batteries mean a smaller diameter tether and thus drag and eliminates power loss down the tether. A smart charger simply plugs into the back of the ROV when back on shore and indoors with a six- to eight-hour operating life from a single charge. The Deep Trekker range is designed to be ultra-portable at under nine kilograms, ships in a single box and is exceptionally simple to deploy and operate. Users can have eyes in the water in 30 seconds,” Planet Ocean said.


The HD camera feed streams live video to the integrated LCD screen on the controller and can be plugged to a digital video recorder or TV-monitor, the firm added.


Deep Trekker is available in four basic models with increasing capability culminating with the top of the range DTG2 Worker with a two-function grabber, increased thruster power and full sensor suite to provide on-screen seawater temperature, heading, pitch and roll, depth and camera angle along with auto heading and depth capability.



The unique design of the Deep Trekker is based around a patented pitching system which means that only two thrusters are required for complete manoeuvrability. An increasing range of accessories, including additional lighting, video glasses, crawler wheels, laser scaler, Tritech, UK, Micron sonar and a thickness gauge, are also available.


“We have been waiting for the right ROV to come along to enhance our other offerings, and Deep Trekker fits the bill exactly,” said Planet Ocean. “It should be of huge interest to our existing customers in the science, aquaculture, moorings inspection, military, search and rescue, and ports and harbours sectors.”

DMC offers offshore wind subsea services
  • DMC has invested in BlueView sonar technology

Danish firm DMC (Drechsler Marine Consult) reports it now offers inspection and service of offshore wind farms, among other services. 


DMC said its ROV is equipped with a powerful manipulator arm and that it had recently invested in a BlueView, USA, high-performance 2D imaging sonar, specially engineered for underwater tasks.



“You can reduce your costs if you hire us and one of our ROV underwater robots instead of using divers,” said the owner of DMC, Claus Drechsler.


He added: “In the North Sea, the ROV can do the job approximately four times as quickly as the divers. In contrast to a diving team that can only work approximately two hours every six hours in the North Sea because of the currents, the ROV is able to work in up to three-metre waves and two knots current, provided that the vessel can be sheltered and stable. That means that the efficiency is multiplied.


“DMC’s ROV only needs a crew of two to three people whereas a diving team consists of six to seven people.


“This also enables the company to offer cable inspection, which can be done from a moving vessel – the ROV does not need an anchored vessel.”

Unique Maritime Group secures investment from Blue Water Energy

Unique Maritime Group (UMG), UAE, has announced that Blue Water Energy has made an equity investment in the company.


Founded in 1993, UMG is a specialist in the provision of services, and the sale and rental of equipment, for the marine, diving, hydrographic, oceanographic, oil and gas, inspection and NDT market sectors. The group has an established manufacturing capability for the delivery of customised engineering projects worldwide.


Founded in 2011, Blue Water Energy is a leading global middle market energy private equity firm based in London, UK.





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