Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Underwater Remote Surveying a Reality as Pandemic Pushes Technology Forwards

After Airborne Drones We Now Have Unmanned Sub Aqua Observers
Shipping News Feature

NORWAY – WORLDWIDE – Remote surveying of ships is becoming commonplace, particularly since the onset of the pandemic, and we have become used to seeing such things as airborne drones enhancing the opportunities for studying the inside of holds and tanks without endangering any personnel aboard the vessel.

The great advantage is of course that the experienced marine surveyor has no need to travel hundreds or even thousands of miles to study real time data which is being recorded remotely at the site being inspected.

Now classification society DNV GL tells us the process has advanced even further with the world’s first in-water series of ship surveys using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) having recently been completed. In-water bottom surveys using ROVs have now been carried out on three separate Wilson ASA-managed vessels with the first having been completed on the Wilson Fedje in December 2019 by a surveyor from Høvik.

The latest survey of this kind was performed earlier in July on another ASA Wilson-managed vessel in Bergen, Norway with Elias Triantafyllidis, the remote surveyor, attending the survey from the DNV GL DATE (Direct Access To Experts) hub in Piraeus, Greece. As with the two previous surveys, it was conducted in collaboration with VUVI AS, a Norwegian inspection company certified by DNV GL to perform underwater inspections for ships and offshore platforms using ROVs. Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, CEO of DNV GL - Maritime observed:

“We are delighted to have collaborated with VUVI and Wilson ASA to deliver this exciting new approach to remote surveys. DNV GL has been carrying out remote surveys since 2018, so this service is an extension of a broad suite of remote services that are already available. Naturally, the pandemic has pushed us to scale up the intensity of remote service delivery and we are fortunate that our longstanding commitment to digital advancement has meant we are well positioned to respond to the needs of our customers during this difficult time.”

DNV GL has recorded a 33% uplift in the weekly number of remote surveys conducted compared to pre-pandemic levels. In total, DNV GL has now conducted an estimated 17,400 remote surveys worldwide since 2018 with on average 300 remote surveys being carried out every week. Statutory and class regulations require two bottom surveys of a vessel within a five-year period, with an interval of less than 36 months in between. The certification of VUVI AS was conducted in accordance with Class Programme DNV GL-CP0484 for in-water inspections. The technology received the vote of approval from Thorbjørn Dalsøren, General Director of Wilson Ship Management, who said:

“Working in a modern world, with technologies allowing us carry out a bottom-survey without deviation or off-hire, we are really enabling a huge potential for efficiency and environmentally friendly solutions. We trust this will be adapted to several more of our operations, taking advantage of digital solutions.”

Survey planning and review of hull drawings were completed the day prior to the survey, thereby optimising the degree of survey assurance. During the inspection, the surveyor used VUVI’s sonar technology to scan the vessel’s bottom in order to locate the hull equipment, such as echo sounder sensors; speed log sensors and sea chests, while simultaneously assessing the general condition of the hull.

Seamless connectivity was ensured throughout the survey thanks to the use of a powerful router. The in-water survey was concluded in a similar timeframe to traditional surveys, i.e. two-and-a-half hours, achieving the same level of assurance as an in-person survey. DNV GL’s digital industry platform Veracity was used by VUVI AS, DNV GL and Wilson ASA to ensure secure data transfer when saving and sharing the video stream from the remote survey. VUVI CEO, Frode Rødølen concluded:

“VUVI AS has, since the company was founded in 2013, focused on in-water survey of vessels as one of the company’s core services. We became DNV GL certified to perform in-water inspections in 2017, and re-audited earlier this year. We are proud to have become a trusted partner by DNV GL to perform inspections with our ROV teams, and we are inspired by the fact that we contribute in the shaping of the inspection-services for the future.”

Photo: One of VUVI AS's ROVs on the dock.