A Hybrid Deep Water ROV For Sea Floor Operations From Small Vessels

Higley, Paul
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 4
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2008
Specialty Devices, Inc. and the CMRET/NIUST, University of Mississippi, have collaborated in the design and development of a new class of Robotic Underwater Vehicle (ROV) focusing on efficient, low cost, deepwater operations. The need for such a vehicle was driven by special requirements encountered in the establishment of the Gulf of Mexico Gas Hydrates Research Observatory at a depth of 850m in Mississippi Canyon Block 118 on a restricted budget. Requirements included deployment and recovery of tools and sensors and the connection of underwater-mateable electric and fiber optic connectors at depth. The standard complement of equipment required included; high-resolution video with lighting, scanning sonar, robotic arm, precision positionin and thrusters for limited transit and maneuvering. Conventional deep water ROVs are lowered in a large cage with a buoyant tether between the cage and the ROV. The tether is wound on a winch in the cage deployed as the ROV swims out from the cage. This cage is lowered on a large diameter umbilical cable with strength elements and communications elements and conductors for electric power. With increasing water depth the umbilical cable must become ever larger to accommodate increased power transmission loads and strength demands, with corresponding increase in deck handling equipment size and in turn, vessel size and overall cost. The surface ship must include a dynamic positioning (DP) system to control ship propulsion to maintain the position of the ROV cage at a position relative to the sea floor. DP ships with this capability and the ability to carry the large umbilical cable and winch are expensive.
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