TAVANGER, Norway – For the last 19 months, a VideoRay Pro 4 Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) has been permanently deployed off the coast of Stavanger, Norway. The Pro 4 ROV was deployed by Stinger Technology AS in November 2013 to test how long a VideoRay could remain underwater in working condition continuously without surfacing. This operation marks the longest continuous deployment of an ROV of any class without requiring maintenance.
“Originally, we anticipated it would last about 3 months,” said Stinger CEO Bjarte Langeland. “But it has obviously significantly outlasted any of our expectations.”
Stinger’s resident ROV – named “Seaquito” in a contest last year – is housed in a crate on the seafloor, which helps reduce the amount of biofouling that the ROV might experience through natural wear and tear of being underwater, and also keeps out any predators who may be too aggressively curious about its new neighbor in the North Sea. Piloting is done remotely over a WiFi network, instead of directly from the Pro 4 Integrated Control Box (ICB). This allows Stinger to deploy Seaquito from their headquarters immediately, rather than waiting until they can get an operator onsite.
“While the ROV is a ‘remotely operated’ vehicle, the pilot is usually only physically separated from the vehicle by the umbilical,” explained Langeland. “Our permanent submerged ROV project investigates how we can further remove the pilot from the physical ROV deployment, making it possible to involve multiple experts in real-time operations.”
Seaquito is not just for experimental use – it also acts as an emergency preparedness solution. Stinger, which provides subsea services to the offshore oil & gas sector, uses the resident ROV as an emergency response system for inspections and monitoring subsea facilities, as well as an in-situ host for various underwater sensors. Seaquito can begin an operation immediately after being called into action, thanks to its current position on the seafloor. By having an “on-call” ROV system, Stinger significantly reduces the time and resources needed for an ROV operation, especially in emergency situations when every minute counts.
Stinger has used VideoRay ROVs since 2010, after they conducted a technology screening to choose a small ROV to launch from a platform. “We chose the VideoRay Pro 4 because it was more powerful than any of the other options,” said Langeland.