Commercial divers and underwater drones performing offshore mooring inspections

Monday, October 11, 2021 / USA

V2 Subsea recently conducted an underwater inspection of offshore moorings with Oceanetics, utilizing underwater drones and commercial divers.

The project was undertaken to verify the structural integrity of the chain and anchoring system. For this inspection, both a commercial diver and an underwater drone were deployed. The diver controlled the chain while confirming the acceptable corrosion levels for the load requirements, and the underwater drone was on-site to provide safety overwatch. However, it turned out that the underwater drone could be used for more than simply a safety watch.

Underwater drones assisting commercial divers

Moorings located below the water surface degrade over time, leading to loss of strength and thus reducing the function of the whole mooring system. It's crucial to perform frequent visual inspections and act whenever a deviation is observed to ensure the integrity of floating offshore installations.

V2 Subsea is a technology solutions provider, and its focus is to bridge the gap between tech and the reality of working on the water. One of their clients, Oceanetics, serves as both a prime and subcontractor for the Federal Government. They provide innovative solutions and services in harsh environments. For this project, V2 Subsea brought their Blueye Pro underwater drone to assist Oceanetics' dive team in inspecting an offshore wind mooring system.

The Blueye Pro provided video and data collection above the normal scope of these types of inspection. - Dustin Varnell, V2 Subsea

mooring inspection

Diver inspecting offshore moorings. Photo: V2 Subsea with a Blueye Pro

Combining helmet camera and underwater drone camera to create dive logs

Performing inspections on this project's specific mooring system is a task Oceanetics need to complete several times a year. When the visual inspection is over, the diver needs to verify the infrastructure to Oceanetics and provide verbal and written feedback in a dive log - a standard procedure after a dive.

In addition to the diver's helmet cam, the underwater drone's camera captured valuable photo and video footage for team Oceanetics. The diver is an expert on what he is inspecting, but more eyes are always beneficial for better decision-making.

V2 Subsea believes that the intuitive reporting system from Blueye is an excellent resource and can replace manual after-dive reporting. When you export the dive report from the Blueye app, you quickly get all the information you need. Creating dive reports manually after a dive requires human resources, and the information you'll get depends on one person's opinion and memory. Sharing the report directly from the Blueye app is quicker, easier, and more easily verifiable. The report displays pictures and video, includes location, depth, and temperature info, and the operator can easily make notes that are pertinent to the inspection.

Blueye App Reporting Steps

Blueye dive report. Photo: Blueye Robotics

In-house or outsource underwater inspections?

Hiring divers has been the traditional way of inspecting for ages and moving forward, divers will continue to fill an important role in that process. As technology advances, we know it may be challenging to steer the course of in the direction of innovation, but the firms that adopt this technology will certainly benefit from more frequent and less costly underwater inspections. As we see it, more and more businesses are starting to realize increased ROI & improved safety conditions with the use of underwater drones. For many of our clients, an inspection class underwater drone has become a standard tool.

Dustin indicates that everyone who works within the blue industries should have an underwater drone in their toolkit. Because you never know when an accident can happen, you need a quickly deployable underwater drone to visually inspect and document the finding right away. An underwater drone isn't just for emergency situations though. It can and should be employed in the day-to-day operations of any commercial diving company. With an underwater drone, your team will save precious dive time, and that human capital can be used for more critical jobs where manpower is needed. In many cases, underwater drones are a safer and faster alternative for quick visual inspections. Commercial divers have a limited amount of dive time, and by using an underwater drone for some inspections, they will save this dive time for key activities that drive greater revenue.

offshore mooring inspection blueye

Offshore moorings. Photo: V2 Subsea with a Blueye Pro

In our view, it is not underwater drones vs. humans. There are pros and cons with both divers and underwater drones, but we need them both to complete different tasks. Underwater drones will NEVER replace humans, but the commercial divers who adopt drone technology will be more efficient and more flexible than those who choose not to adapt to the changing inspection environment.

Interested in learning more about how underwater drones can support your business?

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