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What Can Sonar and USBL Do For You?

Rachel Doornekamp   |   January 17, 2020

In an ideal world all water would be crystal clear for miles, making it easy to navigate and see deep underwater. Unfortunately, however that is not always the case. Unless you’re off the coast of Guadalupe Island you may not be lucky enough to work in such clear waters.

Visibility below the surface can sometimes limit underwater operations if teams do not have the right equipment. In many situations though, turbid water can’t limit a mission - the job still has to get done!

In addition to numerous lighting and sensor options, Deep Trekker provides ROV pilots with advanced tools to greatly improve low visibility working conditions. USBL and sonar technologies allow operators to easily determine where they are underwater and what they are looking at, making them an ideal tool for underwater remotely operated vehicles (ROVs).

From search & rescue to salvage operations to defense, sonar and USBL technologies help get the job done in a wide range of industries.


Ultra-short baseline, or USBL uses triangulation to indicate the position on the ROV. Consisting of a transceiver at a reference point and a transponder on the ROV, the position is calculated using the ranges and bearings measured by the receiver. In short, having a USBL positioning system is extremely helpful for understanding where you are and where you are going under the water.

USBL positioning systems are incredibly versatile and can be used for positioning in numerous applications. As maps can be overlaid onto the software in real time, positioning and navigation is made even easier. Industries such as search & recovery use USBL systems to navigate large and potentially unfamiliar search areas. USBL is also helpful in maritime applications to help pilots determine where their vehicle is located under the water. Underwater inspection services use USBL positioning systems to determine where they are located in relation to the infrastructure they are inspecting.

USBL Positioning Systems are available as add-on options with the Tritech MicronNav USBL or SeaTrac USBL Positioning System. USBL also comes standard in the DTG3 Navigator Package.


Sound Navigation and Ranging (Sonar) technology is a system for the detection of objects underwater by means of sound waves sent out and reflected by those objects. Especially helpful for low visibility underwater operations when a camera system or diver would be unable to see clearly on their own, sonar is useful in a variety of applications.

Sonar has been used effectively by operators in various industries and working environments. Sonar technology also has the ability to help locate underwater objects in deep salvage operations where turbid waters may hinder maximum camera visibility. Sonar can also help locate underwater infrastructure for inspection and repair purposes. In underwater discovery, sonar can locate sunken ships in murky water or help researchers monitor aquatic life and environmental conditions. Perhaps most well known for search & recovery operations, sonar can help police and rescue teams locate evidence or victims underwater.

Deep Trekker offers a variety of sonar options including the Tritech Micron Sonar, Gemini 720IK Multibeam Imaging Sonar, Blueprint Oculus Multibeam Sonar M750 D, M370S and M1200D.

Both USBL positioning systems and sonar are incredibly useful additions to your ROV. Assisting in navigation and detection in all conditions, there is no shortage of applications

Check out our ROV FAQs to learn more about our vehicles. Our team of industry experts are also here to answer any questions you may have!