The Magazine for Underwater Professionals

Nov/Dec 2016


Society for Underwater Technology

A message from the chief executive

After a very long and varied career I have decided to retire from full-time employment as from 1 April 2017 when I shall be stepping down as chief executive of the Society for Underwater Technology.

My first real involvement with the SUT was in 1987 when I joined the Subsea Engineering and Operations Committee shortly after taking up my post of senior lecturer at Cranfield University. 

However, my real first experience of the SUT was in attending an excellent one-day conference in 1978 on the subject of diving. Little did I know then that in 2009, just a little before normal retirement age, I would be leading this wonderful unique organisation. 

When it comes to praising the SUT, I am certainly not alone. This organisation punches very much above its own weight and this is due in great part to the efforts of our many volunteers who serve on our council, branch committees, young professional and student groups around the world and on our numerous technical (and non-technical) committees.

Despite all this effort none of our activities could exist without the commitment and dedication of the SUT staff, based in London, Aberdeen and those based overseas and I thank them for their truly amazing support. 

For me this past seven years or so has gone by in a flash – which must be proof of the enjoyment that came with this role!


Dr Bob Allwood, SUT chief executive

The technical challenges associated with wave energy convertor projects

The Perth Branch evening meeting Harnessing Wave Energy: Geo-Development Challenges was jointly organised by the Western Australia Chapter of the Australian Geomechanics Society (AGS) and the Offshore Site Investigation & Geotechnical Group (OSIG) of the SUT (Perth Branch). The evening was opened and chaired by OSIGp committee member Damon Sunderland (from Arup) who coordinated the event in conjunction with the AGS, of which Damon is also a committee member.

The evening talks were held at the Engineers Australia auditorium in West Perth, and were divided into two sessions focusing on two different wave energy convertor (WEC) projects: the CETO project developed and presented by Carnegie Wave Energy; and the mWave project developed and presented by Bombora Wave Power.

The event was kindly sponsored by Marine GeoSolutions (MGS) and the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI).


In order to link the two WEC projects to the OSIGp core themes of geology, geophysics, geomatics and geotechnics (the 4Gs), each of the WEC presenters then had a second speaker to discuss the technical challenges associated with wave energy projects.

First off the rank to present for the evening was Angus Nichols from Carnegie Wave Energy who presented on the CETO 6 wave energy technology. This system essentially comprises a balloon suspended in the water column, which is tethered to the seabed and converts the oscillating motion of ocean waves into zero-emission renewable power with the added advantage of producing desalinated freshwater as a by-product.

To complement Angus’s opening talk, the second presentation was given by Dr Peter Ramsay from MGS. Peter’s presentation covered the 2015 geophysical site investigation survey for the CETO 6 power generation arrays and the cable routing offshore from Garden Island, Western Australia. The survey highlighted the geological complexity of the area and provided a detailed assessment of the geohazards associated with the site and cable routing from the shore. Some very nice visualisation fly-through videos were presented by Peter that helped illustrate the survey outputs, geology and geohazards.

The third speaker was Shawn Ryan from Bombora Wave Power who presented an overview of the mWave technology. The system offers a low-cost renewable energy solution for broad commercial use in shallow nearshore locations with consistent large waves. Operating on the sea floor was shown to provide inherent protection during extreme storm events. Shawn explained that mWave technology harnesses the potential of wave energy in the form of pressure on the sea floor through a robust rubber membrane.


The fourth and final speaker was Dr Noel Boylan from NGI who expanded on Shawn’s talk from a geotechnical perspective. Noel pointed out that while nearshore high-energy environmental conditions are attractive from an energy extraction perspective, the overall environment and operational requirements can be challenging from a foundation design perspective. His presentation provided an overview of these challenges and some of the solutions being explored to enable cost-effective developments using the mWave device.

We enjoyed four thought-provoking and complementary presentations on an offshore renewables topic that has significant potential for our future energy needs. The crowd in attendance was exactly 100, which was the capacity of the Engineers Australia venue. Many questions from the floor and the fact that many from the audience stayed to engage in discussion well after the talks had finished proved that many of us in Perth have a great interest in the use of offshore renewable technologies and the geo-challenges that they bring.


After the presentations, the four presenters were accompanied by the evening chair and treated to a dinner at Black Tom’s in West Perth as a show of gratitude for giving up their time to present. The engaging renewable energy discussions over dinner (and a drink or two) reflected the same enthusiasm of the earlier Q&A session.

Damon Sunderland

0-Tube site visit by SUT YES!

In September, SUT YES! (Young Engineers & Scientists) took a group of almost 30 young engineers to visit the University of Western Australia (UWA) O-Tube facility, located in Shenton Park.

The O-Tube is a world-first facility capable of circulating 60 tonnes of water, allowing for ground-breaking research on the effects of tropical cyclone conditions on subsea infrastructure. The site visit was led by Terry Griffiths (director, Aurora Offshore Engineering) and Professor David White (Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems).

The site visit comprised a vast range of interactive exhibits, which attendees were free to explore at their own leisure. Key features of the visit included:

  • The large O-Tube, with artificial seaweed frond mattresses; an emerging technology which has been used as an effective form of scour protection and erosion control of seabed structures.
  • A presentation by David White on the STABLEpipe Joint Industry Project; a collaborative initiative between UWA and industry to improve the reliability and reduced the stabilisation costs for operators of pipelines, flexibles and umbilicals under extreme loading conditions.
  • An interactive mini O-Tube exhibit where attendees were encouraged to guess at what current velocity scour and erosion would occur along a pipeline cross-section.
  • A section of the 134-kilometre first trunkline which carries gas and condensate from the North West Shelf platforms to the onshore gas plant in Karratha, Western Australia (which attendees could sit inside!).
  • Additional instruments and measurement devices used for research, including model concrete mattresses, model subsea foundation structures and an exhibit of a final year thesis project used to model of the roughness effects of different seabed materials on flexible pipelines.


Technical staff were available to answer any questions regarding each of the exhibits presented, and an afternoon tea was provided by UWA. A big thanks to UWA for sponsoring the event and further thanks to Terry Griffiths and David White for showing the YES! community some of the great research that is being conducted between academia and industry.


Ray Maujean





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