ROV stands for: "Remotely Operated Vehicle". The ROV is a underwater robot that is connected to the surface by an umbilical and operated via a joystick by the operator aboard the diving vessel. To the ROV several items can be connected like pincers, drills, sonar equipment, cameras etcetera. As we will show you later ROV's can be small and can be large. The large ones can even perform underwater jobs with large equipment like plows to dig trenches for underwater cable. The main task for ROV at this moment however is still to perform observation jobs with the build in video cameras. The crew watches the result aboard the vessel. Can you remember the many spectacular views of the Titanic that appeared on TV ? Without the help of ROV's this could not have been possible.

Basic ROV system with umbilical and operator console

The big advantages compared to underwater vehicles carrying personnel are the compact measurements and the small weight. For instance, they can perform their job from a rubber boat and some ROV's even fit in the back of a car. The depth they can reach depends on the housing construction. Some can go to 75 meters, some to 4000. In large depths it can be too risky to let divers do the job. Also in extremely contaminated waters it is better to put the ROV to action instead of divers. ROV's are suitable for inspecting holes, trenches, wrecks, pipelines, cables, cooling water systems. bridges and offshore islands. The ROV does not mind to dive for 8 hours or more at the time, also it doesn't mind working in bad weather.

The umbilical provides the electricity for the engines, tools, lights and cameras and is used to send the digital video signal back to the diving vessel where it can be viewed and taped. ROV's have at least 4 engines: 2 to control the depth and 2 to control the direction. The sonar equipment can be used to spot obstacles on the bottom or for bottom distance control. The ROV is operated by one or more joysticks. 

ROV operator training

Although it seems rather simple to control the ROV (like making it perform a 360 degrees turn on the spot...) many manufacturers offer operator training. By the way: There are over 200 ROV manufacturing companies in the world (!). ROV's are expensive. Noboby would like to run the risk to destroy one (e.g. end of career...). Although operated by joystick, it's NOT a videogame.

The diving industry would like to implement an industry standard called "Certificate of Competence for ROV Personnel". It is based on basic blocks of minimum requirements. It features minimum entry qualifications and a minimum time required between grades. In this way companies can be assured of operator competence and ROV personnel receive professional recognition. The whole training sequence is as follows:

Induction course For trainees (novice ROV operators) with at least NVQ 3 level.
Submersible Technician (ST) course At least 100 days offshore experience and 12 months in the industry. Successful completion of competence assessments.
Submersible Engineer (SE) course At least 200 days offshore experience as ST and 30 months in the industry. Successful completion of competence assessments.
Supervisor (SV) course At least 200 days offshore experience as SE and 48 months in the industry. Recommendation for SV course and exam.
Senior Supervisor (SSV) course At least 200 days offshore experience as SV and 60 months in the industry. Recommendation by management.

Contact SubServ management in London for further information 015394-44027

Different kind of ROV's

As you have seen above ROV's can be trained to perform several jobs.

You can find:

Hydrovision's Hyball observation ROV for depths up to 300 meters. It has 360 degrees vision, auto heading, auto depth, an electronic compass, a high resolution color video camera, variable intensity mainlights and camera tracking lights and several interfaces, for instance for sonar or a manipulator. Courtesy of Hydrovision.

Hyball observation ROV on his way to work

A problem in operating ROV's is the umbilical drag. The weight of the cable hanging down will influence the movement of the ROV and makes it harder for the operator to control it. In strong currents sometimes a bottom weight is attached to the umbilical to make bottom jobs easier. A cable hanging down 100 meters will catch a lot of current ! Stronger engines are needed for current operation. The umbilical is kept as thin as possible and lightweight materials are used.

A small observation ROV being trained for cutting jobs. It is fitted with a hydro-lek cutting tool that can cut cable, pipe or hose up to 3 inches in diameter. Courtesy of Hydro-lek.

Subsea Offshore's eagle eye ROV

The SeaRover is a modern high performance low cost ROV. It is easy to use and can perform several duties like mine countermeasures, harbor security surveillance, exploration and inspection. Several special options can be fitted like: ultra-short baseline tracking system, high resolution scanning sonar, an altimeter, articulator arms or photo cameras. It is propelled by two horizontal thrusters, one vertical and one lateral. It can reach depths up to 300 meters. The SeaRover can be launched from boats, docks or helicopters and is designed for military and commercial use. Courtesy of Bethos USA.

The SeaRover is used by the US Navy

The ROV fleet of GB-diving Rotterdam, The Netherlands

The Videoray 2000 was build for recreational use. It can reach depths of 75 meters  and provides real time color video of it's surroundings. It features two halogen lights to illuminate dark waters. As you can see it can be carried by hand. Like all it's big brothers it is connected to a monitor or TV by an umbilical and is operated by joystick. Courtesy of Videoray.