Diver or ROV? It's Not One or the Other
Whether to hire divers or use mini-ROVs to perform maintenance and inspection work is a recurring discussion in many underwater industries.
Deep Trekker believes that the key to improving all underwater work is the use of ROVs in conjunction with divers. Mini-ROVs like our DTG2 allow video dive monitoring from shore or aboard a host vessel.
On virtually any project, surveying dive areas and determining tasks by video camera before deploying a diver will increase safety and ultimately save time and money.Recently, while setting up a dockside Deep Trekker demonstration at the Dubai International Boat Show, a prospective customer provided the perfect example of how to use an ROV in the water to assess and avoid dangerous situations. This diver recounted an underwater experience where he came head to head with a shark in hunting mode.
The diver was spear fishing with a friend, both of whom were experienced divers, and familiar with sharks sharing the water with them. The diver became separated from his partner and noticed a shark swimming straight for him. He quickly became aware that, based on the shark’s body language, it had picked him out directly.
This was the point in his tale where he expressed the view that having an ROV in the water would have been a huge help. The diver explained that had his friends aboard the boat known he was in danger, they would have been able to divert the shark away from him by intervening or approaching the shark and spooking it into changing direction.
Armed with an open pocket knife, the diver extended his hand, hoping to show that he was not prey and to make himself appear more threatening to the species. Extending your arm out towards a shark looking for prey may not seem like the best course of action. However, given this scenario, the diver knew that he was not fast enough to swim to safety.
Fortunately his diving companion noticed what was taking place and was able to intervene by thrusting his spear out. Faced with two human bodies and a long spear, the shark finally decided that they were not an easy target and changed direction. In this example everyone, including the shark, swam away safely. Had his friend not been able to reach the diver in time, it could have been disastrous. It never hurts to have an extra set of eyes, or an ROV, in the water for safety and security.
The second reason for deploying divers and ROVs simultaneously, creating the ultimate underwater duo, is the time and money that can be saved.For basic inspection needs,an ROV can completely eliminate the costs of briefing and sending a diver into the water. With more complex jobs, divers are still very important and offer extremely valuable services. However using an ROV to compliment them during these jobs can easily reduce the time they are actually needed in the water. This significantly cuts down on hourly costs and reduces the need for as much oxygen.
Before a diver even dips a toe in the water, the ROV can be deployed to identify the area that needs to be worked on. The diver is not wasting underwater time locating and identifying problems, searching for damage, or determining a course of action to resolve the issue. Deploying an ROV before a dive allows stakeholders to see exactly what needs to be done and where, ensuring that all of the appropriate equipment is assembled and prepared before diving in.
Using an ROV gives a wider range of personnel the opportunity to brainstorm solutions to a particular problem. No longer does a diver have to independently assess the situation and come up with a solution, all while operating on a limited supply of oxygen.
Deep Trekker believes that using an ROV in conjunction with divers creates the optimal team to tackle underwater jobs. While the debate surrounding the question of whether it is better to use an ROV or hire a diver may continue, there should be focus on how they can be used together to reduce costs and improve safety and methods of underwater work.