Proof that ROVs have a future in class inspections

Monday, February 21, 2022 / The Blueye office

Can ROVs carry out class inspections? We are often asked if a Blueye can carry out in-water surveys adequately enough to satisfy class requirements. The purpose of this article is to guide you through the stories of two Blueye users who are certified by class societies and have chosen to use the Blueye as their primary tool.

Class inspections using underwater ROVs

The International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) covers more than 90% of the world's cargo carrying tonnage. For these vessels to remain in class throughout their lives, regulations demand periodic surveys. After completing each survey, the vessel in question needs to conform to the required standards for the ship to remain in the class. These in-water surveys have traditionally been carried out by class certified divers, attended by class surveyors.

As in most industries, groups of pioneers challenge the traditional methods, bringing new innovative solutions to the table. In this case, I would like to shed some light on two class certified companies that have chosen to carry out class surveys with Blueye's ROVs to ensure that the standards are met.

Inspection on a ship by Inchcape Shipping Services
Inchcape Shipping Services preparing for a hull inspection. Photo: Inchcape/Blueye

What's the most common misconception related to ROVs and class inspections?

One of the most common misunderstandings is that the ROV itself needs to be certified by class. This isn't the case; it's the individual surveyor who's required to be approved by class to carry out surveys. However, the pilot is required to have knowledge about the chosen ROV and sufficient training. According to regulation, they must document technical specification, suitability, training in the chosen ROV technology, and class-approved documentation. To ensure we support the changes happening, Blueye has created our own course for companies interested in performing class inspections.

...the pilot is required to have knowledge about the chosen ROV and sufficient training. According to regulation, they must document technical specification, suitability, training in the chosen ROV technology, and class-approved documentation.

Two Blueye ROV operators are certified by class

The first destination in this story is Germany. Going back to 2021 Stein Maritime Consulting, became the first German ROV company to receive Lloyds Register and Bureau Veritas (BV) certification. In other words, Stein Maritime Consulting is accepted by the two class societies to carry out surveys with ROVs. We are eagerly awaiting exciting new developments from Stein.

Inspection by Stein Maritime Consulting
Stein Maritime Consulting in the field. Photo: Stein Maritime Consulting

Making our way to Dublin, Ireland, we find Tuskar Inspections. At year's end of 2021, we received the great news that Tuskar has been accepted and approved by Bureau Veritas (BV) after a long process with BV, making them the second Blueye operator certified to carry out in-water surveys with Blueye ROVs. Tuskar is expanding its operations, covering Ireland, the UK, Spain, and the Caribbean. This means an ROV inspection company is making headway on an international scale.

Tuskar training
The Tuskar team during one of their training sessions. Photo: Tuskar Inspections

They performed their first in-water survey on a 136 m vessel during cargo operations in two and a half hours, including a tea break. From the feedback Tuskar received after completing the inspection, the conclusion was that it was especially impressive in terms of speed, image quality, visibility in sea chests. In addition to the fact that Tuskar could inspect the port side, where the operation wouldn't have been possible with traditional methods during cargo operations.

We are entering an exciting new era that will revolutionise the Shipping Industry. Thanks to technology, digitalisation and Blueye's innovations: the perpectives in terms of health and safety, fleet optimisation, costs reduction and eco-friendliness are just immense. At Tuskar, we are very proud to be the first ones in the UK and Ireland to receive this seal of approval from BV. Now our vision moving forward is to offer to the Shipping Industry some innovation that finally makes sense! Florian Lohou, founder Tuskar

These two companies have taken the risk and succeeded in establishing themselves as certified service providers. Change isn't easy, but could these approvals be the first signs of a change in how class surveys are carried out? With our ROVs and technology working together with the service providers, we all achieve a position to influence the status quo and even make up leeway.

What does Blueye bring to the table?

  • Blueye delivers professional ROV equipment with live-streaming possibility. This means the inspection can be live-streamed to external stakeholders and key decision-makers in real time as the inspection takes place. More information about the live streaming function
live streaming
Live streaming inspections with Microsoft Teams. Photo: Blueye Robotics
  • Documentation of findings through the Blueye reporting tool. The software allows the inspectors to generate and distribute inspection reports within minutes after the inspection is completed. Generate inspection reports in the Blueye app
Generate inspection reports in the app. Photo: Blueye Robotics
  • Inspector training. A course and training, equipping the inspector with ROV technical know-how and practical skills to carry out effective vessel inspections.
For more information about training and courses, please contact us. Photo: Blueye Robotics

Perhaps it's too early to say that the norm for class inspections is changing. However, we recognize that it's possible to challenge the traditional methods by introducing new technology to the mix. With these two inspection companies as a basis, we can validate that Blueye ROVs can carry out those class inspections.

We know for sure that Blueye will continue to develop tools to the inspector's benefit. We are excited to see what the future holds for class inspections and ROVs' part.