The Magazine for Underwater Professionals

Oct/Nov 2018


Rovco to double its workforce

UK-headquartered Rovco has announced plans to double its workforce as it prepares for further global expansion following a robust year of growth for the company.

The subsea ROV and hydrographic company has successfully secured inspection and survey projects across the globe in industries including oil and gas and renewables, as well as securing its first environmental survey using detailed 3D modelling. Over this period, the company has grown from three to 19 staff and is on course to double its headcount by the end of 2019.

To accommodate its rapidly expanding team, the firm recently relocated to larger premises in Bristol. The new office space will also house a research and development laboratory, where Rovco will conduct further studies into underwater artificial intelligence and live 3D computer vision.

With a number of projects in the pipeline and plans in place to purchase a fleet of autonomous vehicles, Rovco said it is in a strong position to further expand its ROV and AUV service offering to ensure its customers benefit from the latest subsea technologies on the market.

Brian Allen, CEO of Rovco, said: “This is an exciting time for the company and we have identified a number of opportunities to grow our business. We are seeing a more optimistic outlook across the industry and our plans for the next 12 months reflect this.

He added: “We have a number of key regions where we see opportunity for expansion, with a focus on oil and gas in the UK, Europe, Asia Pacific, North and West Africa markets. We are also looking to expand our offshore wind contracts in the UK and Europe.

“A key part of our growth strategy is investing in research and development. Over the next 12 months we plan to invest another two to three million pounds in our technology. We are looking at projects including applied artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicle path planning and live 3D underwater computer vision.”

James Fisher announces Middle East subsea services expansion

James Fisher and Sons, UK, reports it is bolstering its offering in the Middle East with the addition of further subsea-focused capabilities to enable it to support the oil and gas market.

“The deployment of a significant range of additional capabilities, including dedicated specialist equipment to support offshore construction, inspection, repair and maintenance and decommissioning services, will enable customers to benefit from a fast, local response,” said a spokesman. “This combined regional capability will provide total subsea engineering solutions that draw upon James Fisher’s established regional networks and extensive operational expertise.”

The spokesman added: “Customers have already benefitted from this enhanced capability and rapid response whereby James Fisher was able to utilise a vast array of locally available offshore equipment for decommissioning projects and satisfy numerous concurrent phases of work by working simultaneously across oil fields with numerous equipment spreads, delivering further cost and operational efficiencies.”

Master and owner pay price for illegal salvage
  • 'Severn' seaboat returns from the 'Friendship'. Photo: Royal Navy

Dutch company Friendship Offshore has been convicted of conducting an unlicensed salvaging operation on a sunken merchant vessel named the SS Harrovian in 2016. The case was heard in the UK at Newcastle Crown Court in a prosecution brought by the UK’s Marine Management Organisation (MMO).

The court heard how MMO officers, acting on information received, were aboard patrol vessel HMS Severn when it intercepted the salvage ship Friendship 70 miles (113 kilometres) south-west of the Isles of Scilly in August 2016.

This inspection resulted in the discovery of approximately £90,000 worth of copper and steel. The Friendship’s master, Walter Bakker, admitted that he did not have the relevant marine licence and demonstrated how he had dimmed the vessel’s automatic identification system (AIS) in order to avoid detection. The vessel was subsequently detained to Falmouth, UK, for further inspection.

Analysis revealed that the vessel had conducted three unlicensed salvage operations on the wreck of the SS Harrovian. The SS Harrovian was built by Bartram & Sons in Sunderland, UK, in 1914 and was sunk on a voyage from New York, USA, to Le Havre, France, by the German submarine U-69 in the English Channel in 1916.

During the sentencing, the judge referred to the fact that the SS Harrovian was an important heritage asset and despite being at sea, was still of considerable heritage value.

At the initial hearing, the defendants pleaded guilty to charges reflecting the three unlicensed salvaging operations they conducted. The MMO also made application for a confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Confiscation Order (POCA) with the assistance of the North East Regional Asset Recovery Team.

Walter Bakker was fined £2000. Friendship Offshore was fined £6000 and £44,930 costs. The confiscation order against the company was agreed at £609,086 with an actual realisable amount assessed at £190,643, to be paid within three months.

An MMO spokesman said the positive outcome was made possible by strong team working between the MMO, Historic England and the North East Regional Asset Recovery Team.

“This case is very important and shows that we will take action against those deliberately avoiding the required consents in order to make a profit. The SS Harrovian is an important heritage asset and this result sends out a clear message that vessels of this nature should not be exploited,” he said.

IMCA adds to its Diving Division team
  • IMCA's new appointee, Alan Melia

The International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) has announced the appointment of Alan Melia as technical adviser - diving. As a member of IMCA’s Diving Division team, he will advise on all aspects of how diving operations can be carried out safely and efficiently.

Melia has nearly 40 years of experience in the diving industry. He joins IMCA from UK-based Vertech Integrity Services where he was the global diving manager. He has held similar senior diving roles with Stork Technical Services, the Netherlands, and RBG, UK, and has served as vice-chairman of IMCA’s Diving Safety, Medical, Technical and Training Committee, which undertakes much of the development and review work within the Association’s Diving Division.

IMCA’s senior technical adviser - diving, Bryan McGlinchy, said: “Alan is well respected in the offshore diving industry and he knows IMCA well. I am pleased to welcome him to the Association. His wealth of experience will be of immense benefit to our members.”

Ocean Infinity charters 'Island Pride'

USA-based Ocean Infinity has agreed a seven-year contract with Island Offshore, Norway, for Island Pride. The vessel will expand Ocean Infinity’s platform for AUV data acquisition and analysis, and support a variety of operations globally.

Island Pride is a 103-metre, multi-functional subsea support and construction vessel of UT 737 design. She is equipped with deepwater crane and two work-class ROVs.

Ocean Infinity CEO Oliver Plunkett said: “We are very excited to have agreed this charter with Island Offshore. Given our success in the market and our clear path to future growth we felt it was important to expand by partnering for the long term. Island Offshore have proved to be a great vessel owner to work with and we look forward to a long and successful relationship as our business continues its rapid expansion.”

Havard Ulstein, CEO Island Offshore, said: “This charter is a clear statement of confidence in our vessel, crew and the long term stability of our business. We are thrilled to join Ocean Infinity as they push the boundaries of technology and that they chose us to support them in that goal.”

Tyne Subsea completes first commercial hyperbaric testing in largest chamber
  • Tyne Subsea general manager Paul Smith with the fully installed and operational large chamber

Tyne Subsea, a multi-million-pound research and testing facility being developed just north of Newcastle in the UK, has successfully completed its first commercial test in one of Europe’s largest commercially available hyperbaric pressure testing chambers.

The facility, which is being developed by engineering group British Engines and Newcastle University, will offer customers world-leading pressure testing services in an integrated facility in Killingworth and will operate nine hyperbaric chambers of varying specifications.

Tyne Subsea’s first commercial test in its largest chamber measured buoyancy loss in a subsea module. The module, which was two metres by 0.5 metres, was tested at pressures of 4641 psi over 24 hours to establish how much water was absorbed when the component was subjected to prolonged deepwater submersion.

The largest chamber is capable of testing high pressures, whilst accommodating large objects, with an internal length of 4.5 metres (almost 15 feet). The chamber can simulate water depths to 4500 metres, can reach pressures of 450 bar and can simulate subsea water temperatures down to minus two degrees Celsius.

Paul Smith, general manager of Tyne Subsea, said: “The commissioning and subsequent first commercial test in our large chamber is a real milestone for the business. We have spent the last 12 months completely renovating the Killingworth site. As well as commissioning and installing the hyperbaric chambers, we have put in new office and conferencing space, as well as automation systems and other testing equipment.”

He added: “We have the final two smaller vessels to install, but we are now able to offer the majority of our services to our global customers.”

Scotland and Cornwall to assist in development of Welsh marine energy test site

The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, Scotland, and Wave Hub Ltd in Cornwall, England, have signed an agreement with Marine Energy Wales to provide strategic advice to develop the Marine Energy Test Area (META) project which is underway in Pembrokeshire, Wales.

A spokesman for EMEC and Wave Hub said: “Between them, the teams behind the test centres in Orkney and Cornwall have more than 20 years of experience developing and managing the sites, as well as supporting facilities and developers around the world. Their knowledge of leasing, licencing, operations and commercial activities will be invaluable to the Marine Energy Wales team as they seek to establish a test area in the Milford Haven Waterway.”

META will see the creation of a series of pre-consented, non-grid connected sites suitable for a range of component, sub assembly and marine energy device tests. The £1.9 million project, which is being supported by EU and Welsh government funds, along with the Coastal Communities Fund and the Swansea Bay City Deal, aims to provide early stage device developers with an easy access testing facility to de-risk future deployments and drive down the cost of energy.





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