The Magazine for Underwater Professionals

Mar/Apr 2016


SMD ships world's first deep-sea mining vehicles

Photo: Nautilus Minerals

February marked a significant milestone for UK subsea engineering company SMD as the MV Happy Delta, loaded with the world’s first deep-sea mining vehicles, left the port of Tyne, UK. 


A spokesman for SMD said: “In late 2007 SMD was awarded with a contract to design and build the world’s first deep-sea mining vehicles for Canadian listed company Nautilus Minerals. Eight years on, having worked in close partnership with the customer, this massive feat of engineering is complete. The SPTs and associated equipment, totalling over 1000 tonnes, have now been loaded onto the vessel which has set sail for Duqm Port in Oman where they will undergo further testing.” 


As well as the three mining machines or seafloor production tools (SPTs), SMD designed and manufactured the full spread of equipment required to remotely operate, launch and recover the SPTs from the deck of the ship onto which they will be installed in 2017.  


SMD conducted rigorous commissioning and factory acceptance testing on the full spread of equipment in dry conditions on land at its production facility in Wallsend prior to shipping, according to the spokesman. The SPTs will now undergo extensive wet testing at the port facility in Oman which is designed to provide a submerged demonstration of the fully assembled SPTs, prior to commencement of the first mining operations in 2018, he said. 


The load out operation took place at Swans, an advanced manufacturing site being developed next to SMD’s site on the banks of the River Tyne. It was the first operation of its kind to take place at Swans’ recently dredged nine-metre-deep quay.  


Nautilus chief executive officer Mike Johnston commented: “Nautilus’ approach in building the world’s first seafloor mine was to seek out world class partners, leaders in their respective fields, and SMD’s unparalleled leadership in the design and manufacture of remotely operated vehicles operating in the earth’s harshest environments certainly reaffirms the validity of that strategy.


“SMD’s engineering design and manufacture of our seafloor production tools is simply second to none; we thank them for their invaluable partnership and their determined leadership in building these impressive machines, and we look forward to seeing them in action on the seafloor once our project at Solwara 1 is in production in 2018.”

  • Photo: Nautilus Minerals
Battelle subsea video system now available from Seatronics

USA-based Battelle reports its HorizonVue 360 interactive camera and viewing software is now available for sale or rental throughout the global offices of Seatronics, UK.


“The camera’s unique viewing capability and interactive video provides never-before available situational awareness allowing ROV operators to inspect subsea equipment and to perform detailed tasks in complex operating environments with increased efficiency and effectiveness,” said Battelle.


“In addition, the system includes full-view playback and interactive software for further review back on shore. The full coverage of the work area means no more sifting through hours of recorded video waiting for something to come into the view of a pan and tilt camera,” the company continued.


The single camera system, which is depth-rated to 4500 metres, allows operators to capture the same view that would normally require six to nine regular cameras, according to Battelle. It also gives the user a virtual pan and tilt capability with no moving parts, it said.


Matt Gusto, a research scientist at Ohio-based Battelle, added: “The system has been generating excitement from our partners after reviewing the data collected during demonstrations, and changing the way they look at survey data packages. Recently, we successfully demonstrated it with Technip in the USA at a depth of 2200 metres in the Gulf of Mexico where we inspected risers, pipelines and a variety of other subsea oilfield equipment.”

Outland releases new underwater CP probe

USA-headquartered Outland Technology has announced the launch of a new underwater cathodic protection (CP) probe, model CP-100.


“Manufactured to be robust and reliable, the CP-100 features dual cell technology for the most accurate and reliable CP readings as well as a hardened stainless tip to stand up to the abuse of offshore environments,” Outland said.


The company added that the CP-100, which is available with both diver-held and ROV mounts and multiple connector options, is suitable for both contact and proximity readings.

Rovotics launches new ROV

Rovotics of the United Arab Emirates reports the launch of its new Shark G2R inspection-class remotely operated vehicle.


“With more than 80 kilograms of bollard force and 35-kilogram payload, the G2R’s simple and intelligent electronics were made possible due to the system being manufactured with the latest technology and cutting edge software. With readily available spare parts, compact footprint and rapid mobilisation combined with minimal recorded downtime, this inspection-class ROV is industry-leading,” the company said.

Kongsberg GeoSwath echosounder enhanced for seafloor identification

The latest release of Norway-based Kongsberg Maritime’s advanced GeoTexture software for the GeoSwath Plus line of multibeam echosounders introduces calibrated backscatter data. The update positions the combination of GeoSwath Plus and the latest GeoTexture as a unique solution capable of delivering calibrated images of the acoustic reflectivity of the seafloor, according to the company.


“The system, which has been developed as a result of Kongsberg’s involvement with the GeoHab (Marine Geological and Biological Habitat Mapping) conference backscatter data working group, can be used for reliable and repeatable texture mapping and identification of seafloor types. The data generated will have important applications in marine habitat mapping, engineering and geosciences,” said a spokesman.


The backscatter working group was formed in 2013 as part of the GeoHab conference series. Chaired by experts and end-users from leading research institutions in the field, it was established to support development of systems that can acquire backscatter data that is meaningful to the end-user by providing repeatable values, independent of survey conditions.


Kongsberg has supported the group’s efforts by providing information on its sonar technology and contributing to the guideline document and peer reviewed publications. In turn, Kongsberg was able to leverage the findings and recommendations of the group to develop necessary algorithms and procedures to produce calibrated backscatter data with GeoSwath Plus multibeam echosounders.


“The system co-registers bathymetry and geo-referenced backscatter data in shallow-water environments over a wide swath,” the spokesman said. “During data acquisition, a procedure is followed to gather all necessary information to characterise the seabed response at the sonar frequency and to calibrate the transducers beamplots.”


He added: “During data processing, using the latest release of the GeoTexture software, specifically developed algorithms account for sonar calibration information, range and absorption in the water column, transducer directivity, vessel movement, angular backscatter response and the slope of the seafloor. The result is a map of the seafloor showing the backscatter response for the given sonar frequency in absolute dB values.”

  • Calibrated backscatter map of Barns Pool, Plymouth, UK. The values represent the backscatter response of the seafloor in absolute dB scale. The data can be used for reliable seafloor monitoring and classification
  • Bathymetry of Barns Pool. The data was gathered with the GeoSwath Plus 500kHz system





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