When Oceaneering International Inc., a current world leader in deepwater technology, had an idea for a new Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), they came to the engineers at TERN, Inc. to help make their design a reality. Their mission: to build a state of the art ROV with enhanced performance and work capabilities that would operate at ocean depths of more than 10,000 ft. TERN programmed a critical piece to the puzzle: the extremely tiny MiniDrive88 (MD88) which would make it possible for the ROV to send important digital signals from one location on the vehicle to another with little impact on wiring or atmospheric housing penetrations.
ROVs are similar to vehicles that one may see in futuristic science fiction movies. Directed by a pilot operating from a control van on the surface, they are considered the cutting edge of underwater technology. Standing a mere six feet high, these ROVs make many tasks possible that would otherwise be inconceivable. There are currently 3 Hydra Millennium Plus ROVs (pictured at right) equipped with TERN’s MD88 at work in the Gulf of Mexico. They are undertaking jobs that include opening valves, dredging, pumping, surveying, performing pipeline inspections, and monitoring the gas and oil drilling process—all completed underwater.
“Flawless. We have never had a problem with them, and [the ROVs] have been out there for close to six months.”
Oceaneering International Representative
commenting on the reliability of the TERN MD88
Aside from being useful for a variety of underwater oilfield tasks, these ROVs can also provide services to meet a variety of non-oilfield underwater industrial requirements including search and recovery as well as subsea telecommunication cable installation, maintenance and repair.
The Millennium ROV is controlled by the telemetry system, which is isolated in a particular atmospheric chamber. The system requires that power be switched on and off to connectors in a totally different atmospheric housing. At the great depths in which the ROVs operate, maintaining the integrity of the atmospheric chambers is a difficult, yet very important task.
Today, Oceaneering operates the largest and the most technically advanced fleet of work class ROVs in the world. Because ROVs make the seemingly impossible, possible, by going where humans cannot, they facilitate many important projects around the world. The overwhelming success of the Hydra Millennium Plus is clearly apparent—two more ROVs using TERN controllers are in the works and Oceaneering has become an industry leader in providing deepwater drill support services. The capabilities of the TERN MD88 used in Oceaneering’s ROVs have allowed these incredibly innovative machines to be able to function correctly and perform tasks that seem futuristic in nature, but with the help of technology, are now a reality.