Houston-based seabed exploration company, Ocean Infinity, is to install Kongsberg Maritime launch and recovery systems (LARS) on its 15-strong Armada fleet of robotic ships for the handling of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs).
Currently under construction and likely to be commissioned later this year, the unmanned Armada vessels will be capable of deploying sensors, autonomous underwater vehicles and ROVs to carry out a wide range of data acquisition functions and intervention operations at water depths of up to 6km.
Kongsberg’s electrically driven LARS will enable launch and recovery to take place through the vessels’ moon pools, with ROV release and capture occurring beneath the sea surface. This arrangement eliminates the risk of possible hull damage and enables uninterrupted ROV handling in higher sea states, Kongsberg said.
Describing the new system as a game changer, the company’s executive vice president for Deck Machinery and Motion Control, Lisa Edvardsen Haugan, commented: “The new LARS solution is developed in close collaboration with the Ocean Infinity team. The cost of ROV operations can be drastically decreased through the use of this system. We expect to see more companies transition to using unmanned vessels to reduce operational costs and increase safety.” The Armada fleet will not require a host vessel nearby but will be controlled and operated by experienced mariners via satellite links with onshore facilities in Austin, Texas, and Southampton, England. Ocean Infinity claims that the Armada operation will be the safest yet seen in the sector, with up to 90% lower emissions of carbon dioxide compared with conventional survey vessels.