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How are ROVs Used for Underwater Vessel Inspection?

Rachel Doornekamp   |   January 31, 2020

Ocean shipping continues to be the primary transportation method of billions of dollars in goods. As such a massive industry, safety is incredibly important. Using an underwater remotely operated vehicle, or ROV, operators can safely and efficiently conduct underwater vessel inspections.

Why is Vessel Inspection so Important?

Underwater inspection of shipping vessels is important for many reasons;

  • Save money and time by understanding what is happening under your vessel without diver intervention.
  • Make the most of any necessary dive time by pre-inspecting with an underwater drone.
  • Proactively manage your fuel efficiency by conducting regular ROV inspections of your hull to determine optimal cleaning and paint schedules.
  • Completing regular hull inspections is one way to avoid damage and decay on the boat.
  • Completing hull inspections can give insight as to whether or not the structure of your ship is compromised.
  • Underwater vessel inspections confirm that your hull is clear of barnacles and other marine life.
  • Provide ease of mind.

What is an Underwater Drone?

Underwater remotely operated vehicles or ROVs are submersible drones that allow users to solve harsh environmental situations. Deep Trekker ROVs are portable, affordable, high quality and easy to use, providing solutions to various underwater projects.

As innovators in the underwater ROV industry, Deep Trekker can provide the right robotic system for your needs. Commercial grade, low maintenance and durable, Deep Trekker underwater robots are easy to transport and deploy.

Deep Trekker offers two inspected and tested underwater ROVs, the DTG3 and the REVOLUTION.

Intelligent and advanced the DTG3 is the best in its class. The mini underwater ROV was built to provide operators the ability to quickly deploy and visually inspect within underwater environments. Depth rated to 200 metres (656 feet) the battery operated vehicles lasts for up to 8 hours. Carried in a single case, the extremely maneuverable underwater ROV is built to last. The camera provides excellent real time 4k live video footage, even in low light. There are many reasons why this underwater drone is so popular!

The REVOLUTION is a completely reimagined ROV. Mission ready with greater payload capabilities, deeper depths and advanced stabilization systems, the REVOLUTION is a serious vehicle. Depth rated to 305 metres (1000 feet), the underwater ROV boasts numerous comprehensive sensor integrations. The patent pending revolving head allows operators to rotate the 4k uhd camera, manipulators and sonar all while holding station in the water.

How Can an Underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle Help with the Inspection of Shipping Vessels?

Hull inspections are important but how should they be carried out? Throughout the shipping industry, dry docking is most typically used for hull inspection purposes. Procedures enacted by regulatory bodies and companies are valid and in place to ensure that vessels are operating properly and safely. However, taking your vessel completely out of the water when it is not required can waste a lot of time and money. From a financial, structural and inspection code point of view it is important to inspect your hull between mandatory dry-dockings. With an underwater ROV you can get eyes underwater quickly and inspect vessel hulls at a moment’s notice - without dry docking.

While divers also offer an alternative to dry-docking there are potential downsides. In addition to the financial responsibility of hiring a professional diver, the time of hiring and scheduling said diver can be prohibitive. Perhaps most importantly, an ROV will keep humans out of harm's way. Keep divers out of small, tricky or treacherous conditions by using an underwater ROV for vessel inspections.

There are also several add ons offered by Deep Trekker to maximize your ROV for underwater hull inspections.

  • The Cygnus thickness gauge allows you to evaluate the thickness of steel on hulls, tanks of other metal surfaces. The probe presses on the surface of the hull, taking an accurate measurement through marine growth and coating.
  • Auxiliary cameras add more angles to your 4k videos. The custom mounted auxiliary camera allows users to toggle between the main camera and auxiliary camera for viewing and recording.
  • Sonar options provide pilots with a way to gain visual in dark or murky water.
  • Auxiliary lighting adds 1000 lumens to the total lighting capacity of the DTG3. The additional lighting is important for inspecting in dark or deep water.
  • The laser scaler option provides operators with a reference to gauge how large a potential fault is.

The use of ROVs has applications that extend to entire vessel fleets as well. With Deep Trekker ROVs, port authorities and border security professionals are able to perform an efficient hull inspection on every single vessel to pass through their waters without the need to send a human into the water, or incur the high costs and delay of dry-docking. Contraband inspections can be performed efficiently, regularly, and without risk to a human underwater.

Best Underwater ROV Practices for Shipping Vessel Inspection

Maximize the benefits of an underwater ROV for hull inspection by using our recommended best practices.

When Deep Trekker ROVs are shipped,they are adjusted to be neutrally buoyant in the water. That being said, by using the little metal plates attached to the unit handles, you can add more weight or remove weight to set your unit to be positively or negatively buoyant. Take off a plate from under each handle on the ROV to make your unit positively buoyant. This means that when the unit is in the water it will no longer stay at the depth you drove it to but will rise slowly in the water. This can help when performing a hull inspection to ensure that you are sticking close to the vessel hull and not sinking down.

Once you have set your Deep Trekker ROV to be positively buoyant, consider adding our crawler wheel accessory. (No, these are not the same wheels that come with our Pipe Crawler Systems.) Crawler wheels replace the top handles of a unit. When it is floating up toward the hull, it has wheels attached so that you can drive it along the hull of the vessel. By pointing your camera directly up you can now gain a clear view of any discrepancies in your hull.

Lighting, lighting, lighting! By adding auxiliary lights to your ROV you can ensure that you can undertake a complete a hull inspection anywhere, at any time of day. Enjoying a nightly cruise and accidentally hit something? Want to make sure the hull is fine before you leave your boat in the water overnight? Auxiliary lights on your ROV can ensure that no matter where you are or what time of day it is, you can complete your inspection in a timely manner.

Deep Trekker's DTG3 ROV 4k camera has a 320 degree field of view up, down, fore and aft. However sometimes you need to capture a shot directly from the side. With various auxiliary camera options, you can equip your ROV to include side facing cameras. Then, simply drive the ROV by the hull and capture footage from different vantage points to gain an accurate depiction of the state of your vessel.

The use of underwater ROVs for vessel inspection has many benefits. Check out our blog to read more! To learn more, reach out to one of our industry experts today!