The Magazine for Underwater Professionals

Jan/Feb 2017


Society for Underwater Technology

Succession of CEO

As SUT members will be aware, last year Bob Allwood announced that he would be retiring in April this year and therefore standing down as chief executive officer of the Society after more than seven years in post. We instigated a search and ended with a short list of four excellent candidates. After some considerable discussion we decided on Mr Steve Hall and I am delighted to say that he has accepted the position and will be starting on 1 April.

Steve is well known to many of the SUT members, having chaired the Education and Training Committee for seven years and as a member of Council for two years. Since starting his career in 1986 in a small private sector engineering survey company, he has more than 30 years of experience in the marine science, technology, energy, policy and education sector, and is currently head of the International and Strategic Partnerships Office at the UK’s National Oceanography Centre.

Steve is chair of the Marine Science Coordination Committee’s International Working Group and head of the UK delegation and ad-hominem vice-chair at UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.

I am sure that all members will give Steve the support that Bob has enjoyed over the last seven years.


Peter Metcalf, Chairman of Council

Development of floating wind energy installations

I had the pleasure of introducing Ricard Buils Urbano, energy adviser at DNV GL, to a good sized audience that had come along to the London evening meeting at our usual Imperial College venue to learn all about the development of floating wind energy installations.

First of all, Ricard gave a brief overview of DNV GL Energy and his role there as energy advisor. The company has been formed in recent years by the merging of Det Norske Veritas and Germanischer Lloyd together with other companies – KEM, Garrad Hassan and Noble Denton. This had created the world’s largest renewable energy certification and advisory firm. The energy arm of DNV GL can support floating wind energy development from concept to verification.


Next we were presented with a brief history of floating wind energy installations. Regarded by many as a fairly recent development, we learned that early concepts dated back to the 1970s that eventually led to small-scale tests in the 1990s and the development of early prototypes rated to around 100 kilowatts in the 2000s. In recent years we have seen the development of several systems in the two- to 2.5-megawatt range. Not surprisingly, the structures supporting these systems have benefitted from experience gained in the offshore oil and gas industry, with concepts based on spars, tension-leg platforms and semisubmersible vessels.

Ricard then presented us with a view looking forward over the next few years with many projects planned. He referred in particular to just seven projects in Japan, Taiwan, the UK, France, Germany and off both coasts of the United States.

The advantages and disadvantages against fixed offshore turbines were discussed, the main advantage being of course for installation in deeper waters further offshore – where the wind resource is better. The obvious disadvantage is cost, in terms of just about all aspects. However, a less obvious, but no less important, one that he spent time to explain to us resulted from coupled dynamics between the rotating blades and the motion of the supporting platform. This presented a real technical challenge which in principle can be met by the use of cleverly designed systems to control the pitch of the rotor blades.

Ricard then addressed the markets for floating wind energy, identifying the three main geographical areas of Europe, Japan and the United States. With floating wind energy now just appearing on the Commercial Readiness Index (CRI) scale, the next steps become clear – the reduction in CAPEX and an increased technology readiness level (TRL), leading to the production of electricity reliably and at a lower cost.

This excellent presentation resulted in much discussion and many questions from the audience which continued afterwards over a glass of wine.


Bob Allwood

RIGSS, DIGs and safely engineering around geohazards

The Perth Branch’s evening meeting RIGSS, DIGs and Safely Engineering Around Geohazards, held at the Parmelia Hilton, was opened by Perth Branch chair Julie Morgan and chaired by SUT OSIGp Committee member Kevin Day. The evening’s three presentations were structured to provide a linked sequence through the evening covering site investigation, data assessment, and use and mitigation of the results.

First to present were Sam Stanier, research fellow, and David White, Shell EMI professor of offshore engineering, both from the University of Western Australia. Sam and David presented a review of the innovations and results from the RIGSS (Remote Intelligent Geotechnical Seabed Surveys) JIP, which is developing new tools and interpretation methods for offshore site investigations, particularly near-surface characterisations. Following a short review of ‘conventional’ penetrometers, the presentation covered the latest developments with ‘hemiball’ and ‘toroidal’ intelligent penetrometers and rapid use free fall penetrometers. The results are comparable with the more traditional equipment and the intelligent penetrometers are able to be utilised as part of a box core package for easy deployment.

Next to present were Stella Kortekaas, senior geologist, and Sam Ingarfield, geotechnical engineer, both from Fugro AG. Stella commenced the presentation of diagnostic integrated geosciences, or DIGs, with a review of how data gathered, such as from the first presentation, may be incorporated as part of a wider data gathering exercise, where all the information is integrated to build a full geological model for a particular site being investigated. This model may then highlight potential risks from a range of geohazards and Stella gave case study examples of mass transport events and bedform/sediment mobility aspects. Sam expanded on the former with results from hypothetical flow modelling results which help to predict range and thickness of debris flows and turbidity currents.

Completing the series of presentations was Alex Bandini-Maeder, senior geologist, NGI Perth, who gave the audience a summary of typical geohazards that the type of work from the first two presentations may highlight and followed this with methods of mitigating the risk from such potential threats to subsea infrastructures. Alex then illustrated the use of these methods with two case studies from development and production projects and finished up with how these techniques have also been applied to mitigating the risk from significant amounts of mercury within a World War II submarine wreck lying on an area of seabed with potential for slope failure.


Kevin Day





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