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ROV Technicians
Remotely Operated Vehicles

Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs)

Drew Michel, ROV Technologies, Inc.
Background and History

Courtesy of the Drew Michel Collection

The first step in understanding
any technology is to understand
why it exists. In the case of ROV
technology, the reason is quite
simple. There is no other practical,
C o n t e n t s safe, and economically feasible
way to perform deep underwater
Page 2: Introduction to Knowledge and work or underwater interven-
Skills Guidelines tion, as it is called in the industry.
Page 3: Knowledge and Skills Guidelines History tells us that humans
for ROV Technicians have been working underwater for
Page 4: ROV Technician Job Description several centuries, from gathering
food to salvaging cannons. Early
Personal Characteristics of an
ROV Technician attempts to improve diving efficien-
cies were recorded in the mid-
Page 5: Salary Range
sixteenth century, when the first
Page 6: Tools and Equipment diving helmet was used. From
Page 7: Basic Courses that early technology to the record
Page 9: Job Titles 2,250-foot simulated dive made at This 1980 photo of a Diver handing a wrench to an RCV 150 while an RCV 225 observes is a
Duke University in 1981, we have perfect illustration of the passing of the baton from man to machine.
Page 10: Future Trends
witnessed an incredible evolution
Page 12: ROV Technician Career Profile in humankinds ability to work to limited use in science and the further recognition by saving the
Page 14: Diving Deeper Educational underwater. Open water dives have tourist industry. pilots of the Pisces submersible
Resources been made to nearly 2,000 feet Exactly who receives credit for with only minutes of air remaining
Page 16: in depth, and commercial dives developing the first ROV will when it accidentally sunk off Cork,
have reached 1,750 feet, but these probably remain unclear. How- Ireland in 1973.
instances are very rare, involve ever, there are two milestones that The next step in advancing ROV
high risk, and are not cost-effective. deserve recognition: the PUV technology was made by commercial
For a short period, human- (Programmed Underwater Vehicle) firms that saw how ROVs could
occupied vehicles (HOVs), form- was a torpedo developed by be used to support offshore oil
ally called manned submersibles, Luppis-Whitehead Automobile operations. The transition from
appeared to be the solution to in Austria in 1864; and the first military use to the commercial
conquering the deep. Between tethered ROV, named POODLE, world was quite rapid. Companies
the mid-1960s and mid-1970s it was developed by the Frenchman like ISE Ltd. (International
looked like HOVs would allow Dimitri Rebikoff in 1953. Submarine Engineering Ltd.) in
humans to work in deeper water The United States Navy, in its British Columbia, Canada; Perry
for longer periods of time. How- quest to develop robots to recover Oceanographic in Riviera Beach,
ever, HOVs required substantial underwater ordnance lost during Florida; and Hydro Products
dedicated support vessels and still at-sea tests, is credited with advanc- and Ametek Strata in San Diego,
put humans at risk underwater. ing the technology to an opera- California were quick to begin
They were also slow to launch and tional state. ROVs gained fame in commercial activity based on work
recover and had limited time on 1966, when the US Navy CURV done for the military. From that
This project is supported, in part,
by the the bottom, which reduced their (Cable Controlled Underwater very humble beginning, ROV
National Science Foundation cost-effectiveness. The introduction Recovery Vehicle) system recovered technology and the industry of
Opinions expressed are those of the authors
and not necessarily of the Foundation.
of commercial ROVs in the an atomic bomb lost off Spain in today have evolved.
DUE/ATE 0085345 mid-1970s has relegated HOVs an aircraft accident. They gained (continued on page 11)
Introduction to MATEs Knowledge and Skill Guidelines

The process of developing a competent marine work force that is the MATE Center can be found at:
well prepared for employment requires collaborating with a wide marineworkforce, or printed copies can be requested from the
range of people and organizations. One of the major tasks of the MATE Center.
Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center is to A number of organizations have been instrumental in the
identify and define marine technical occupations and the abilities development and validation of the ROV technician guidelines.
that men and women need in order to perform well in these occu- We would like to thank the Deep Submersible Units Detachment
pations. The major product that results from this work is a set of of the U.S. Navys Unmanned Vehicle Section; the Monterey
occupational Knowledge and Skill Guidelines (KSGs) for technical Bay Aquarium Research Institute; Oceaneering International;
marine occupations. These guidelines describe what workers need Sonsub International; Jim MacFarlane of MacFarlane Marine
to know and be able to do in order to perform their jobs well and Services; and Drew Michel of ROV Technologies, Inc. and the
they are different for each occupation. The KSGs developed by the Marine Technology Society ROV Committee Chair.
MATE Center include those for marine technicians, remotely oper-
Deidre Sullivan,
ated vehicle (ROV) technicians, hydrographic survey technicians, Curriculum and Industry Manager
aquarists, and aquaculture technicians. All the KSGs developed by Co-Principal Investigator

About the MATE Center MATEs Strategy for Improving

The Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center is a national partnership of Marine Technology Education
organizations working to improve marine technical education and in this way help to prepare
Americas future workforce for marine science and technology occupations. Headquartered
at Monterey Peninsula College (MPC) in Monterey, California, the MATE Center has Outcomes Products
been funded as a National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education
(ATE) Center of Excellence since 1997. The MATE Center works with community colleges, 1. List of critical workforce
high schools, universities, research institutions, marine industries, professional societies, Needs needs from industry
and working professionals to facilitate the development of courses and programs based on Identification queries
industry-established guidelines. In this way, the Center is working with industry to create

an education system that meets the needs of employers and students, is flexible, and provides 2.
employers with direct access to students. The Center is also actively working to increase the Industry- and government-
Occupational recognized occupational
awareness of marine-related careers and provide students, educators, workers, and employers Definitions categories
with up-to-date information to assist them in making informed choices concerning their
education and future.

Occupational Industry-identified
The Importance of Marine Technology Knowledge
and Skill
knowledge and skills for
specific occupations
The ocean economy is large and diverse, accounting for twenty percent of our national Guidelines
economy and supporting one in six jobs in this country.1 Marine technology plays a vital role

in supporting the ocean economy, from national security to transportation and commerce, 4.
energy and exploration activities, telecommunications, recreation and tourism, fisheries and Skill Cluster Knowledge and skill
aquaculture, search and recovery, environmental assessment and regulation, and research. Competencies grouped by subject area
Although these economic sectors are diverse, the technology behind them has many similari-
ties. These similarities include: the collection and use of data from remotely operated vehicles

and acoustic instruments; the use of advanced computing systems, such as GIS, for organizing
Instructional Competency-based
and managing data; and the use of electronics and microelectronics for power, controls, and Materials and assessments, modules,
miniaturization in a remote, harsh environ- Services courses, faculty development
MATE Center
ment. The need for highly qualified tech- workshops, and internships
Monterey Peninsula College nical professionals who can design, build,

980 Fremont Street, Monterey, CA 93940 operate, and maintain this technology has
Ph (831) 645-1393 Fx (831) 646-3080 never been greater. A concerted effort is Programs Degree and certificate required to ensure that our work force programs based on
is prepared for an economy currently and instructional materials
Knowledge and Skill Guidelines for
increasingly dependent on ocean activities 7.
ROV Technicians

and the technologies that make these Career

Managing Editor: Deidre Sullivan Management
Copy Editors: Jenny Carless, Jill Zande activities feasible. Job placement programs,
Programs professional development
Contributing Writers: Tami Lunsford, Drew Michel, 1
Vice President Al Gore, Opening Address (From the courses
Deidre Sullivan, Jill Zande Cross-Cutting Issues Plenary Session), National Ocean
Conference, June 11-12 1998, Monterey, California.

Knowledge and Skill Guidelines for ROV Technicians

Working as an ROV operator/technician writing, algebra and trigonometry, hydraulics,

can be a challenging and exciting lifestyle. basic hand tools, electronics, computer skills, Workshop Participants
It is a lifestyle rather than just a career and seamanship.
because it is far from an eight to five job, The ROV technicians who participated in
Workshop Coordinator: Deidre Sullivan
sometimes involving weeks or months at MATEs workshop categorized their major
sea in remote areas of the world. These Workshop Facilitator: Claire Denise
individuals must be resourceful, good at Workshop Recorder: Jill Zande
solving problems, and technically oriented,
and they must be skilled at working closely
. . .it is far from an eight Workshop Date: June 24, 1999
with many different people. Monterey Peninsula College, Monterey CA
The range of tools and equipment ROV to five job, sometimes
operator/technicians use is vast and includes Panel of ROV Technicians
both general ship-board equipment and the involving weeks or months
tools and equipment that is used on the Jim Lewis Sonsub International
ROV itself. These include launch and recov- at sea in remote areas Wayne Barber Sonsub International
ery systems (LARS) consisting of A-frames,
cranes, and winches on deck to hydraulic of the world. Buck Reynolds Monterey Bay Aquarium
motors and pumps; specially design torque Research Institute
wrenches able to deliver a thousand foot
Craig Okuda Monterey Bay
pounds of torque; unique lifting devices; responsibilities into six general job functions:
sampling devices; video equipment; electric operating equipment, piloting the ROV, Aquarium Research
motors; and fiberoptic transmitters and performing maintenance/repairs on equip- Institute
receivers. ment, maintaining communications, using Dan Chamberlain Monterey Bay Aquarium
As is common with many marine technical seamanship skills, and integrating system Research Institute
positions, people who do generally the same modifications into the ROV. Some of these
set of tasks may have widely different job areas are quite specific to ROVs, whereas Chuck Tolland Deep Submersible Units
titles. ROV technicians may be called ROV others involve more general marine-related Detachment, Unmanned
pilots; mechanical, electrical, or systems technology skills. For example, seamanship Vehicle Section, Navy
technicians; pilot, co-pilot, or pilot techni- skills involve basic rigging and survival
cian; or some type of supervisor. skills. The different types of equipment an David Yole Deep Submersible
Background training is essential, and the ROV technician is expected to operate Units Detachment,
types of courses desired or required are as include cameras, acoustic positioning sys- Unmanned Vehicle
varied as the tasks ROV technicians perform. tems, sonar, manipulators, and launch and Section, Navy
These courses might include or technical recovery systems.
Courtesy of Steve Van Meter

How these Guidelines are

The process used by the MATE Center closely follows that
outlined in the Skill Standards Guidebook I (October 1996)
prepared by the Boeing Company, the Center for Career and
Work-Related Education, and the Washington State Board for
Community and Technical Colleges. Very simply, MATE selects
a marine occupation based on employer surveys, the advice of
experts in the field, and other labor market information. A
highly-structured workshop (modified DACUM2 Developing
A CUrriculuM) is then conducted with a group of eight to
twelve technical professionals. These professionals work with a
trained facilitator for one to two days to define the job functions
and tasks associated with their specific marine occupation. The
information gathered during the workshop is used to develop
draft guidelines, which are then sent out to hundreds of technical
professionals, representing large and small organizations from
the public and private sector, for validation.
A student-built ROV recovers sunken treasure as judge from NASA looks on. Norton, R.E. 1996. DACUM Handbook. Center on Education and Training for
Employment, College of Education, The Ohio State University, 1900 Kenny Road,
Columbus, Ohio 43210

ROV Technician Job Description

Individuals who operate and maintain ALL aspects of an ROV, its ancillary
equipment, and its integration into the ship or rig

Knowledge and Skill Overview Chart for Remotely-Operated Vehicle

(ROV) Technicians

A. A1 A2 A3 A4 A5 A6
Operate Operate vehicle Operate cameras Operate acoustic Operate sonar Operate Operate LARS
equipment functions (video and still) positioning system manipulators (launch and recovery
(robotic arms) systems)

B. B1 B2 B3
Pilot Evaluate Dock/undock from Navigate the ROV
the ROV environmental TMS (tether by acoustics, sonar
conditions and management and visual (video)
hazards system)

C. C1 C2 C3 C4 C5 C6
Perform Maintain/repair Maintain/repair Maintain/repair Use test Calibrate and Perform general
maintenance/ electronics hydraulics mechanics equipment align equipment housekeeping and
repairs on corrosion control

D. D1 D2 D3 D4 D5
Maintain Maintain good Coordinate/ Coordinate/ Write reports Maintain records
communications customer relations integrate with integrate with fellow
ships crew crew members

E. E1 E2
Use seamanship Perform basic Possess working
skills rigging knowledge of
survival skills

F. F1 F2 F3 F4
Integrate system Design, build, and Design, build, and Maintain technical Design and
modifications interface electrical interface hydraulic documentation construct mounting
(advanced skills) systems systems systems

Personal Characteristics of an ROV Technician

The workshop participants felt that the following personal characteristics describe a successful ROV technician:
Skilled at solving problems Happy to work in the ocean Skilled at systems trouble-shooting
Resourceful environment Tolerant of getting dirty
Open-minded Skilled at working in teams Cross-trained
Skilled in multiple areas Able to be away from home Willing to do all sorts of tasks (even
Compatible with others Able to communicate well tasks beneath you!)

Able to work in adverse conditions Disciplined Skilled at working with people

Possessing spatial awareness Able to think innovatively Good attitude

Knowledge and Skill Overview Chart for (ROV) Technicians
Critical work function A: Operate equipment

Performance Indicators Technical Knowledge and Skills

TASK How do we know when the task is performed well? What ROV technicians need to know and/or be able to do in order
to perform this task well

A1. Vehicle is operated in a timely, safe, and Knowledge of vehicle systems, including deck handling
Operate vehicle successful manner. equipment (LARS) and tether management systems (TMS), and
functions Vehicle functions respond as expected. their applications
Assigned tasks are completed in a timely, Ability to operate all vehicle functions (e.g., lighting, cameras,
safe, and successful manner. altimeters, depth transducers, vehicle controls, auto functions,
hydraulic valves)
Customers are satisfied.
Basic knowledge of computers
Ability to use spreadsheets, word processing, and databases
Ability to use operating systems and OEM (original equipment
manufacturer) software
Ability to comprehend hardware and software manuals

A2. Desired images are obtained. Knowledge of and ability to operate cameras and video
Operate cameras Images are clear. equipment
(video and still) The appropriate camera is used for the Knowledge of different camera types
desired results. Knowledge of video distribution systems
Knowledge of lighting and how it affects video images
Knowledge of environmental conditions (e.g., turbidity,

A3. ROV arrives at destination in a safe and Ability to operate acoustic equipment
Operate acoustic timely manner. Knowledge of and ability to apply principles of acoustic
positioning system Customer items are positioned correctly. positioning
ROV is tracked successfully. Knowledge of OEM-specific acoustic equipment
Environmental parameters are measured Knowledge of environmental conditions (e.g., salinity,
correctly. temperature) and how to measure these parameters
(e.g., using XBTs)

A4. Vehicle is deployed and recovered safely and Knowledge of sonar (theory and equipment) and ability to
Operate sonar without injury. select proper settings
Ability to interpret images
Ability to locate target(s)
Ability to recognize and avoid obstacles

A5. Dock/undock is successful. Ability to use manipulators and cameras

Operate manipulators ROV arrives safely and without damage. Ability to manipulate the position of the ROV
(robotic arms) Telemetry is maintained during operations. Ability to demonstrate hand-eye coordination and
All environmental factors are considered spatial awareness (3D interpretation of 2D images)
properly. Knowledge of manipulator specifications and limitations
Ability to avoid collateral damage

A6. ROV is launched and recovered successfully Ability to operate site-specific handling systems (e.g., winch and
Operate LARS (without damage to ROV and/or vessel). A-frame, knuckle boom crane)
(launch and Safety is maintained during launch and Knowledge of and ability to implement all safety requirements
recovery system) recovery.
Environmental conditions are measured
and considered properly.

Salary Range
Entry level $35,000 or above, after two years $40-50,000, after five years up to $100,000, this includes overtime and bonuses that accumulate
while working offshore.

Knowledge and Skill Guidlines for (ROV) Technicians
Critical work function B: Pilot the ROV

Performance Indicators Technical Knowledge and Skills

TASK How do we know when the task is performed well? What ROV technicians need to know and/or be able to do in order
to perform this task well

B1. ROV arrives at destination in a safe and timely Knowledge of safe operating parameters (sea state limitations,
Evaluate manner. weather, currents)
environmental Target is located correctly. Knowledge of weather and currents
conditions and Obstacles are avoided.
hazards Ability to interpret sea state
Sonar is operated properly.

B2. Desired manipulator task is completed safely Knowledge of tether management system
Dock/undock and in a timely manner. Ability to demonstrate hand-eye coordination and spatial
from TMS No collateral damage is sustained. awareness
(tether management
Ability to measure environmental conditions and react properly

B3. ROV arrives at destination in a safe and Ability to fly the ROV
Navigate the timely manner. Ability to demonstrate hand-eye coordination and spatial
ROV by acoustics, Customer items are positioned correctly. awareness
sonar and visual
ROV is tracked successfully. Ability to read charts and maps
Environmental parameters are measured Knowledge of longitude and latitude
correctly. Ability to use various mapping systems
Ability to read a compass
Ability to calculate vectors

Tools and Equipment Typically Operated and Maintained

A-frame Altimeter Fiberoptic splicing equipment

Knuckle boom crane Acoustic positioning system Computers (PCs, Unix, Windows-
TMS (tether management system) (responders, transponders, pingers, based programs, DOS) and
homers) peripherals (sonar, camera
Constant tension winch
Manipulators (robotic arm) adjustments, sensors, valves,
Motion compensated winch vehicle monitors) (interfacing
(ram tension winch) Flow meters
between computers and other
pH probes
Traction winch hardware)
Methane sensors Gyros
Still, video, SIT (silicon intensify
targeting), and digital cameras Electric motors Ground-fault monitors (interrupt
Video monitors High-voltage transformers and detect)
Sonar (imaging, low resolution, Hydraulic motors and pumps Electrical power distribution
high resolution) (HPU hydraulic power unit) systems, modern work class ROVs
Lasers Hydraulic valves (solenoid, digital are typically 100 to150 horsepower,
and servo, analog, infinite operated at between 3300 and
CTD (conductivity, temperature,
control over flow and pressure) 4150 volts.
density senor)
Test equipment (electronic, TDR Fiberoptic transmitters and receivers
Bathythermograph (CTD and
time domain reflectometer and Telemetry systems
altimeter, depth)
OTDR optical time domain
Core samplers (sampling and other Serial communications (used in
reflectometer, oscilloscope,
collection devices) computer field and have application
multimeter, megohmeter,
in ROV technology)
Acoustic Doppler recorder amp meter, power meters)

Knowledge and Skill Guidlines for (ROV) Technicians
Critical work function C: Perform maintenance/repairs on equipment

Performance Indicators Technical Knowledge and Skills

TASK How do we know when the task is performed well? What ROV technicians need to know and/or be able to do in order
to perform this task well

C1. Electrical safety is maintained. Knowledge of basic electronics

Maintain/repair Electrical failures are minimized. Knowledge of electrical system safety (lockout, tagout)
Electrical systems demonstrate increased Ability to inspect equipment (e.g., for corrosion, wear, damage,
reliability. ground faults)
Inspection is completed regularly, as per Ability to use diagnostic programs within the system
schedule. Knowledge of system layout
Repairs are completed safely, correctly, and Ability to solder
in a timely manner.
Ability to replace faulty components
Diagnostic programs are used properly.
Measurement data are accurate.

C2. Hydraulic safety is maintained. Knowledge of basic hydraulics and principles

Maintain/repair Hydraulic failures are minimized. Knowledge of hydraulic system safety (lockout, tagout)
Hydraulic systems demonstrate increased Ability to inspect equipment (e.g., corrosion, wear, damage,
reliability. leaks)
Inspection is completed regularly, as per Ability to use diagnostic programs (e.g., flow monitors)
schedule. within the system
Repairs are completed safely, correctly, and Knowledge of system layout
in a timely manner. Knowledge of basic physics
There are no environmental mishaps.
Diagnostic programs are used properly.
Measurement data are accurate.

C3. Mechanical safety is maintained. Knowledge of hydraulic system safety (lockout, tagout)
Maintain/repair Mechanical failures are minimized. Ability to inspect equipment (e.g., corrosion, wear, damage,
mechanics leaks)
Mechanical systems demonstrate increased
reliability. Ability to use diagnostic programs (e.g., flow monitors)
Inspection is completed regularly, as per within the system
schedule. Knowledge of system layout
Repairs are completed safely, correctly, and Knowledge of basic physics
in a timely manner.
Diagnostic programs are used properly.
Measurement data are accurate.

Basic Courses Desired or Required

English/technical writing Basic hand tools course Basic seamanship

Math Marine instrumentation/marine Additional course work to provide
Algebra technology and general more specialization in electronics
applications OR hydraulics
Basic computer skills (e.g., word Basic and Intermediate electronics
Physics (basic, non-calculus)
processing, spreadsheets, databases) (fiber optics)
Basic hydraulics

Knowledge and Skill Guidlines for (ROV) Technicians
Critical work function C: Perform maintenance/repairs on equipment (continued)

Performance Indicators Technical Knowledge and Skills

TASK How do we know when the task is performed well? What ROV technicians need to know and/or be able to do in order
to perform this task well

C4. Test equipment is used properly to accomplish Ability to determine the proper equipment for the test
Use test equipment required task(s). Ability to operate various test and measurement instruments
Tests are conducted in a safe manner. (e.g., oscilloscope, megohmeter, TDR, OTDR, multimeter)
Correct instruments are chosen for each task. in a safe manner
Test and measurement data are used to
troubleshoot and resolve problems successfully.

C5. Equipment and instruments function Knowledge of equipment operations

Calibrate and align accurately within manufacturers specifications. Ability to calibrate and align instruments and equipment
equipment Calibration and alignment procedures (e.g., CTD) per manufacturer specifications and procedures
are followed.

C6. Work environment is neat and orderly. Ability to maintain a clean and efficient work environment
Perform general Cleaning materials are used, stored, Knowledge of sanitation and hygiene procedures
housekeeping and and disposed of properly. Knowledge of HAZMAT storage and disposal
corrosion control
Hazardous materials are stored and/or Knowledge of galvinic corrosion, seawater chemistry and how
disposed of properly. different metals behave under different conditions
Equipment damage due to corrosion is

Knowledge and Skill Guidlines for (ROV) Technicians

Critical work function D: Maintain Communications

Performance Indicators Technical Knowledge and Skills

TASK How do we know when the task is performed well? What ROV technicians need to know and/or be able to do in order
to perform this task well

D1. Information is recorded accurately and legibly. Ability to communicate verbal and written information clearly
Maintain good Logs and other records are current, correct, Ability to solve problems
customer relations and well-documented. Ability to demonstrate good customer relations skills
Customer is satisfied.

D2. Briefing accomplishes objective(s). Ability to conduct a briefing/debriefing (e.g., communicate

Coordinate/ Miscommunications are minimal. mission and clarify terminology)
integrate with Hand signals are used properly. Knowledge of chain of command
ships crew Debriefing provides good, positive feedback. Knowledge of ships procedures
Mission is successful. Ability to use hand signals

D3. Team goals are accomplished. Ability to focus on team goals

Coordinate/ Crew performance increases/improves. Ability to get along with fellow members for extended
integrate with Crew is content and happy. periods of time and in cramped quarters
fellow crew Mission is successful.

Knowledge and Skill Guidlines for (ROV) Technicians
Critical work function D: Maintain Communications (continued)

Performance Indicators Technical Knowledge and Skills

TASK How do we know when the task is performed well? What ROV technicians need to know and/or be able to do in order
to perform this task well

D4. Records are current. Ability to write information in a clear concise manner
Write reports Information is recorded accurately and legibly. Ability to format documents
Logs are current, correct, and well-

D5. Records are current. Knowledge and ability to perform record-keeping

Maintain records Information is recorded accurately and legibly. Knowledge of logs (e.g., pilot, maintenance, inventory, finance,
Logs are current, correct, and well- video, customer)

Knowledge and Skill Guidlines for (ROV) Technicians

Critical work function E: Use seamanship skills

Performance Indicators Technical Knowledge and Skills

TASK How do we know when the task is performed well? What ROV technicians need to know and/or be able to do in order
to perform this task well

E1. Knots, gear, and rigging equipment are used Knowledge of rigging equipment (e.g., shackles, eyes, snatch
Perform basic properly. blocks, bridles, slings)
rigging Rigging is accomplished safely, correctly, and Knowledge of and ability to tie knots
in a timely manner. Knowledge of salvage gear
Items are moved or secured safely and Knowledge of trigonometry
without damage.
Knowledge of physics
Hand signals are used properly.
Knowledge of deck safety
Ability to use hand signals

E2. Personal flotation devices (PFDs) and survival Ability to use PFDs and survival suits properly
Possess working suits are used properly. Ability to use life boats
knowledge of Life boats are accessed and used properly. Knowledge of CPR/first aid
survival skills CPR/first aid certifications are current. Ability to assess environmental conditions and react properly
Environmental concerns are addressed Ability to be alert and look for danger at all times when on a
adequately. moving and working deck
Overhead loads and other hazards are
assessed properly.

Job Titles
ROV technician Mechanical technician 1, 2, and 3 Co-pilot
ROV pilot 1, 2, 3 (senior), and chief Electrical technician 1, 2, and 3 Pilot technician
Mechanical technicians 1,2, 3, and Systems technician ROV maintenance technician
senior Handling system operator Supervisor
Electronics technicians 1, 2, 3, and Pilot Trainee

Knowledge and Skill Guidelines for (ROV) Technicians
Critical work function F: Integrate system modifications (advanced skills)

Performance Indicators Technical Knowledge and Skills

TASK How do we know when the task is performed well? What ROV technicians need to know and/or be able to do in order
to perform this task well

F1. Design and fabrication of electrical systems to Ability to design and fabricate electrical systems
Design, build, and meet the intent of the project. Knowledge of protocols and ability to interchange subsystems,
interface electrical Electrical systems are built and interfaced tools and sensors
systems properly (with other peripherals or pieces of Knowledge of analog signal data
Instrumentation works and receives proper

F2. Design and fabrication of hydraulic systems Ability to design and fabricate hydraulic systems
Design, build, and meet the intent of the project. Ability to add components and modify circuitry as necessary
interface hydraulic Hydraulic systems are built and interfaced
systems Ability to read blueprints/schematics
properly (with other peripherals or pieces of
Circuitry is modified properly.
Operation of added equipment is successful.

F3. Documentation allows new personnel to Ability to maintain and update technical documentation
Maintain technical understand changes. Ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing
documentation Changes are communicated effectively. Knowledge of CAD
Tools (e.g., CAD) are used properly. Ability to create and print a schematic

F4. Test equipment is used properly to accomplish Ability to design and fabricate mounting systems
Design and construct required task(s). Knowledge of CAD
mounting system Design and fabrication of mounting systems Knowledge of proper materials to use
meet the intent of the project.
Mounting system works.
Proper materials are used.
CAD is used properly.

Future Trends
Technicians will be less dependent New advancements will be more There will be fewer, but larger,
on flying skills; the ability to do electronics-focused companies (Sonsub; Oceaneering;
repairs will be more important The industry will continue to grow Canyon Offshore; Stolt Offshore;
Individuals will need to adapt to new (e.g., the oil industry is routinely Fugro)
technology (e.g., mouse-driven going to 5,000 feet and going down ROVs will become larger because they
movements) to 7,000 feet and more) will be required to do more and more
There will be more focus on Oxygen project laying fiberoptic work (not necessarily because theyre
electronics than hydraulics (its easier cable going deeper)
to teach hydraulics to an electrician Fiberoptic telemetry systems are now
than vice versa) the norm

Important Publications for the ROV industry

Sea Technology, Ocean News and Technology, Offshore, Offshore Source, Underwater Magazine

Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs)

Courtesy of Perry Slingsby Systems

ROVs are used in a variety
(continued from page 1) of sectors of our economy,
including the following: oil and
What is an ROV?
gas exploration and extraction;
The Marine Technology Society ROV telecommunications, such as the
Committees publication, Operational laying of fiberoptic cable; sci-
Guidelines for ROVs in 1984 and a National ence and research; underwater
Research Council Committees publication on archeology; search and recovery;
Undersea Vehicles and National Needs in safe navigation; defense and
1996 both describe an ROV as an underwater homeland security; and a variety
robot that allows the vehicle's operator to of different types of inspections,
remain in a comfortable environment while from ships to bridges to nuclear
the ROV performs the work underwater. An power plants.
umbilical, or tether, carries power, command,
Small (Electric) ROVs
and control signals to the vehicle and the
status and sensory data back to the pilots top- Many small, or flying eye-
side. In larger ROV systems, a subsea garage ball, ROVssome as small as Photo 1: Perry Slingsby Systems trenching ROV system.
and tether management system (TMS) are a bread boxare in use today.
often included. The best guess is that more than
ROVs can vary in sizefrom a small vehicle 1,000 of these vehicles are at work worldwide. inspection and observation tasks. Today's
fitted with one TV camera that is used for sim- This small vehicle class includes the majority of low-cost ROVs are used widely for many tasks,
ple observation to a complex work system that low-cost vehicles, most of which are typically including science; search and rescue; dam,
can have several dexterous manipulators, video all electric and operate above water depths of waterway, and port inspection; training; ship-
cameras, mechanical tools, and other equip- 300 meters(984 feet). These vehicles are used ping; and nuclear inspection.
ment. ROVs are generally free-flying, but some primarily for inspection and observation tasks
move along the bottom on tracks (see photo 1). (see photo 2).
There has been a recent surge in the devel-
opment of small vehicles, due primarily to The ROV industry is
Courtesy of Deep Ocean Engineering

the improvement in technology for electrically

powered systems. These improvements have dominated by large work-class
resulted in an increase of capability, perfor-
mance, and depth not previously achieved, electro-hydraulic ROV systems.
while keeping costs between $10,000 and
The low-end products have been classified
for marine recreational use, while the more Work-Class ROVs
expensive systems have been used for inland
water inspection projects and coastal offshore The ROV industry is dominated by large,
work-class electro-hydraulic ROV systems
(see photo 3). The largest of these vehicles
Courtesy of Schilling Robotics

weighs 8,000 pounds and resembles a small

Photo 2: Deep Ocean Engineering Phantom is an example minivan in size. Systems capable of reaching a
of a small electric ROV.
depth of 3,000 meters are now commonplace,
with at least one system capable of attaining
6,000 meters. A cable burial system powered
Courtesy of Canyon Offshore

by four electro-hydraulic units totaling 1,000

horsepower is in use today, and at least one
ROV that can lift and maneuver 1,600 pounds
has been built. Cameras, lights, sonar, and
other sensors necessary to operate at great
depths are readily available. Manipulators
capable of lifting hundreds of pounds are
commonly installed on these vehicles (see
photo 4).
The latest estimate is that approximately
430 work-class ROV systems are active in
the world today (2004). A best guess is that
this represents more than $1.5 billion in
capital assets and the employment (direct and
indirect) of nearly 10,000 people. Six major
commercial operators own the majority of
these systems, with a total of approximately
380 listed in their respective inventories.
Photo 3: Canyons Quest ROV being recovered off Hawaii in Photo 4: Schilling Robotics spatially correspondent (continued on page 12)
2003 is an example of a workclass ROV. manipulator.

Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) Rather than making quantum leaps to AUV

Courtesy of Hydroid Inc.

(continued from page 11) technology, ROVs will evolve to hybrid sys-
tems. Control and feedback will continue to be
Smaller companies, academia, and other provided through thin fiber umbilicals, with
non-commercial organizations operate another power carried on board and charged by stations
fifty systems. This total does not include on the seafloor. They will be deployed to main-
mine-hunting and other specialized military tain subsea production systems and the associ-
equipment. ated pipeline manifolds. Undersea observatories
The fortunes of the ROV industry track will use a similar approach. Picture an AUV
the level of activity in the offshore oil and that swims from docking station to docking
station to download data and recharge.
ROVs have come a long way from Luppis-
The latest estimate is that Whitehead Automobiles PUV. Because they
represent a safe and cost-effective underwater
Photo 5:The first small commercial AUV, Remus, being
approximately 430 work-class launched by hand.
intervention tool, they are sure to continue in
their role as critical support devices to many
ROV systems are active industries.
gas industry. Companies that extract hydrocar-
in the world today. bon reserves from the depths of our oceans in
order to supply us with heat, light, and mobili-

Courtesy of Drew Michel

ty own and operate the vast majority of the
worlds work-class ROV systems. The second
Courtesy of Deep Ocean Engineering

most significant market for ROV technology is

in support of installing and maintaining under-
sea cable systems for telecommunications. The
number of ROVs in support of hydrocarbon
production versus those that support undersea
cables is hard to define because of the dual use
of many systems, but of the approximately 400
Drew Michel, owner of ROV
commercial systems deployed worldwide, a fair
Technologies, Inc. and chairman
estimate is that about 85 percent are used in
of the Marine Technology Societys
hydrocarbon production and 15 percent in ROV Committee, is a pioneer in
undersea cable support. the ROV field. Michel has received
The Future numerous awards for his contribu-
Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) tions to the industry, including
represent the next step in the evolution of the Lockheed-Martin Award for
underwater intervention. A few AUVs are Ocean Science and Engineering
being used today by the military, science, and to recognize his outstanding
the commercial world for survey work (see contributions to the development
photo 5) and AUVs that actually perform heavy of ROV technology. Drew is also
physical tasks are in development. The amount a member of the MATE Centers
Pressurized Water Reactor ROV, the P150, is launched to of power an AUV can carry is the primary limi- National Visiting Committee.
conduct a nuclear power plant inspection. tation of this technology at present.

ROV Technician Career Profile

Leah HebertROV is operational and planning ahead for upcom-

Courtesy of Leah Herbert

ing work.
Senior Supervisor Life Offshore
Leah Hebert describes herself as a first
Hebert's work schedule is twenty-one days
line of defense manager. Her actual job title
offshore followed by twenty-one days on shore.
is ROV senior supervisor for Oceaneering
In theory, the time on shore is her own, but
International, a company that provides engi-
she admits that she actually works about a week
neered services and hardware to customers
of that timetypically going to the office and
that operate in marine, space, and other harsh
dealing with paperwork.
An offshore ROV crew consists of a supervi-
If there are any problems with the ROV
sor, an electronics technician, and a mechanical
while were offshore, the client comes to me, ROV supervisor, Leah Hebert, working on a ROVs fiber technician. The job assignments vary widely.
she explains. Hebert also manages the projects optic cable.
on a day-to-day basis, making sure everything (continued on page 13)

Leah Hebert until youre ready to handle it on your own,
(continued from page 12) she says.
Hebert has worked on oil and gas drill
Because the crews work closely Hebert began her career at Oceaneering
as an electronics technician, and then moved
ships, been involved with construction work together and spend weeks at up to supervisor before earning her current
(setting pilings, getting the seafloor ready position.
for a tension laid platform) and pipeline sea, getting along with others is Because the crews work closely together
laying, and supported completion work. and spend weeks at sea, getting along with
(Once wells have been drilled, a structure is one of the most important skills others is one of the most important skills
built to attach the pipelines to a production for this kind of work, according to Hebert.
platform.) Thats the most fun, she says. for this kind of work The ability to troubleshoot logically and
Its more diversified work, and at the end strong organizational skills are also key.
of the day, we get to see what we helped
create. No Limits
Hebert has volunteered as a judge every
Navy Training
solid grounding in the practical side of year at the MATE Centers National ROV
Hebert received her electronics training electronics. competition. In her interactions with the par-
while in the U.S. Navy. In total, she received I learned how to work in the fieldhow to ticipants and their teachers, shes been asked
eighteen months of electronics technician deal with day-to-day work offshore, she how far she thinks women can go in this field.
training. That training was enough to get explains. When youre in the middle of My answer is very simple: as far as they want
me hired at Oceaneering, she says. The the ocean, you have to make do with what to, she says.
electronics training you get in the Navy is youve got. I've experienced attitude from a couple
considered second only to MIT (Massachusetts Once at Oceaneering, she learned about of customers before, she admits. But its
Institute of Technology). ROVs, both through a formal six-week training all in how we portray ourselves. As soon as
While she didn't specifically work on program for new hirees as well as on-the-job they see that I can do my job, its never an
ROVs then, her navy experience gave her a training. Then youre sent out as an extra, issue again.

Turning an Internship into a Career

In years past I would look at the job market technician was doing mechanical work, and
Courtesy of Gary E. Lindemann

and see numerous paths that I could follow I was trying to figure everything out. Thats
and be successful. I looked into every possible one of the challenges with ROVsyou
career area that used my education and talent. have to be able to do it all comfortably.
I wanted something technical and exciting, but In September, as my internship was coming
nothing seemed right. After seeing an adver- to an end, I was offered an ROV technician
tisement for the marine technology degree at job with Oceaneering in Morgan City,
Alvin Community College (ACC) and talking Louisiana. As I write this article, Im about
to Ike Coffman, the Electronics Department 150 miles off the Louisiana coast, working
chair at ACC, my interest was sparked. The with yet another team of great people. Out
marine technology field has parts of almost here the team is not just the three of us from
every job I had ever doneelectronics, micro- Oceaneering but includes the drilling company,
processor-based controls, hostile operating rig hands, company man, galley hands, mud
environments, and deep waterall at the same We all perform our men, and many othersincluding the families
time! and friends who support us. Working offshore
At the end of my second semester, Ike rec- individual jobs, but they is not just a jobits a frame of mind. We
ommended that I apply to the MATE Center all perform our individual jobs, but they are
Technical Internship Program. Shortly after are knitted together knitted together and orchestrated like a
submitting the MATE internship application, fine ballet. When we do our dives, they are
I attended the Offshore Technology Confer- and orchestrated like televised around the rig because everyone
ence with my ACC class. When I saw the is curious about what is on the bottom,
Oceaneering booth with its ROV simulator, a fine ballet. 4,125 feet below us.
I was sure that I had made the right decision. There is talk of moving the rig down
After talking to Tami Lunsford from the towards Mexico and into much deeper water.
MATE Center and interviewing with John I cant wait to see the bottom there, too.
Peterson and Mark Philip at Oceaneering noticed right away that the people at Until then, we will all continue to perform
International, I was offered a three-month Oceaneering treated each other like family. our jobs safelyhelping our fellow team
MATE internship at Oceaneering. I was then assigned to help with a jetter members here and at home.
Initially I was assigned to the assembly and skid project (a jetter skid attaches under an
test section in the ROV tool shop. The first ROV to find and bury cables) with more Gary E. Lindemann
couple of days were spent testing various tools, new people to meet and all new things to ROV Electronics Technician
reviewing safety procedures, and trying to learn. At first it was confusingthe mechanics Oceaneering International
absorb as much information as I could. I were doing electrical work, the electronics

Diving DeeperEducational Resources

Courtesy of Steve Van Meter

Are you interested in learning more about partners with MTS and other professional soci-
ROVs? Would you like to work on ROVs eties, industry, colleges and
or other underwater vehicles? Have you universities, public aquaria, national marine
considered a career in marine technology? sanctuaries, and NOAAs Office of Ocean
The MATE Center hosts and supports a Exploration, among others, to establish and
variety of activities designed to provide coordinate regional competitions across the
information about marine technical fields country. From New England to Hawaii, these
and build an awareness of the career regional ROV competitions are providing more
opportunities associated with them. These and more students and educators with the
activities include: opportunity to take part in these fun and
exciting, real-world learning experiences.
ROV Competitions For more information, visit
The MATE Centers national ROV design
and building competition provides students
with an exciting, hands-on learning experience. Underwater Technology Handbook
Co-organized by MATE and the Marine At lasta handbook that introduces students
Technology Societys (MTS) ROV Committee, to underwater technology and provides the
the competition challenges middle school skills and information necessary to design and
through university students with underwater build an underwater vehicle!
missions that are based on real workplace Introduction to Underwater Vehicle Design is
situations. From exploring the bowels of the designed for advanced high school or college
Titanic to sampling organisms from methane and university students but is also appropriate
seeps and inspecting oil pipelines, the com- for do-it-yourselfers, hobbyists, and underwater
petition involves budgeting, setting deadlines, technology enthusiasts. Each chapter includes
documenting procedures and results, and Stories from Real Life, which use real-world
producing deliverables on timejust like the situations to set the stage for the science,
real working world. math, physics, electronics, and engineering
concepts that are addressed within the bulk of
the chapter. The text also features complete
Working closely with plans for SeaMATEan inexpensive, shallow-
water ROV.
technical professionals Cape Fear Community Colleges "Sea Devil," the grand
For information on prices and how to order,
prize winner of the 2001 national ROV competition
recovers sunken treasure. contact the MATE Center at
allows students to expand their

knowledge and skills and helps While sparking the interest of hundreds of
students and educators, the competitions have
them make the connection also engaged the marine industry. Organizations
ranging from large corporations to small busi-
from school to careers. nesses and private foundations support the
competitions via funds, facilities, equipment,
and professionals who judge the events and
mentor the student teams.
Courtesy of Peter Thain

Working closely with technical

professionals allows students
to expand their knowledge
and skills and helps them make
the connection from school to
careers. For the marine indus-
try, the competition provides a
way to heighten its visibility,
support technology education,
and, in turn, reap the rewards
by way of students who are
prepared to meet its work
force needs.
In addition to the national
event, the MATE Center
Student Beckie Thain is underwater with her teams ROV at the 2003 National
ROV Competition.

ROV-Related Workshops for Faculty Other MATE Partners that offer marine tech-

Courtesy of the MATE Center

The MATE Center and MATE partner nology-related degrees and certificates include:
institutions conduct a variety of professional Brevard Community College
development workshops for educators. Topics (
include marine technology, submersible see Electronic Engineering Technology
technology, and GIS. For more information, (offer some ROV courses)
workshops.php. California Maritime Academy
( Marine Engineering

Courtesy of the MATE Center

Clatsop Community College
( Maritime Science
College of Oceaneering
( Commercial Diving
Florida Keys Community College
A MATE Summer Institute geology field trip provides faculty
Diving Business and Technology and with insight into modeling marine habitats using GIS.
Marine Engineering Propulsion
Maine Maritime Academy
Hillsborough Community College ( index.php)
( Aquaculture Marine Engineering
Honolulu Community College Oregon Coast Community College
( Marine ( Aquarium Science
Summer Institute faculty gain experience with seafloor Technologies: Boat Maintenance and
mapping technology from industry professionals. Prince William Sound Community
Kingsborough Community College ( Oil Spill Response
ROV-Related Internships for College (
Saddleback Community College
Students Maritime Technology
The MATE Centers Technical Internship Lake Superior State University Aquarium and Aquaculture Science
Program provides students with hands-on, (
real-world experiences that complement Southern Maine Community College
Electrical Engineering (have ROV
their academic learning and promote the ( Applied Marine Biology
courses in the Engineering program)
development of technical, scientific, and and Oceanography
critical thinking skills. The Center facilitates Louisiana Technical College Young See www.
at-sea internships with the University-National Memorial Campus educational.php for a complete partner listing.
Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) ( home.htm):
and other sea-going organizations. Visit Commercial Diving and Marine Operations (continued on page 16)
for more information.

Courtesy of Anne Hess

MATE Center Educational Partners
A number of MATE Center partner colleges
and universities have programs that offer
specialized courses that prepare students to
work in the ROV industry. MATE partners that
offer degrees or certificates related to ROV
technology include:
Alvin Community College
( Marine
Robotics Technology
Cape Fear Community College
Marine Technology, Electrical Engineering
Technology, Mechanical Engineering
Monterey Peninsula College
( Marine Science and
A MATE student intern aboard a research vessel prepares an oceanographic instrument for deployment.

Diving Deeper other organizations to establish standards and (
(continued from page 15) protocols for safe diving and ROV operations. Each years theme addresses an exciting, rele-
The ADCI also provides student scholarships. vant, and timely subject, such as issues affecting
Professional Societies in Support of The ADCI and the MTS ROV Committee the global ocean. The event includes technical
the ROV Industry sponsor the annual Underwater Intervention sessions, workshops, student poster sessions, job
The Marine Technology Society (MTS) Conference and Exhibition fairs, and much more.
( and the MTS ROV ( This infor- The annual Offshore Technology Conference
Committee ( are sources of mation-sharing event focuses on commercial (OTC; is the worlds foremost
information about marine technology and diving, ROVs, AUVs, underwater operations, event for the development of offshore resources
ROVs. Both also offer scholarships for and all associated industries and technology. in the fields of drilling, exploration, production,
students (see It includes technical sessions, panel discussions, and environmental protection. Each year it
student_scholarships.cfm). and job fairs. has an overwhelming number of participants
The Association of Diving Contractors MTS and the Institute of Electrical and more than 50,000 people!who participate
International (ADCI; Electronics Engineers (IEEE) organize the in technical sessions, tutorials, and get lost on
works with the MTS ROV Committee and annual Oceans Conference and Exhibition the exhibit floor. a one-stop shop for ocean-related careers!

Through its partnership in the California than fifty ocean occupations, including
Center for Ocean Sciences Education skills and aptitudes, salaries, and demand,
Excellence (CA COSEE3), the MATE Center and relates them to Department of Labor
created OceanCareers.coma one-stop workforce information where possible.
shop for ocean-related careers! Launched Educational Institutions.
in June, the goal is for describes ocean-related
to be the preeminent web site for ocean programs at more than 100 educational
career information, providing students and institutions.
job-seekers with a centralized resource for
information on ocean careers, such as: Employers. Included are nearly 10,000
ocean-related employersincluding names,
Ocean-related career opportunities locations, and business descriptions.
Knowledge and skills required to enter Educational Competencies. The website
ocean careers provides students and prospective
Educational institutions that provide institutions are not able to keep up with employees with information on appropriate
ocean-related programs and degrees the technology-based realities of todays educational competencies in 24 different
work-force, and students need to be armed disciplinary areas.
Industries and employers with ocean-
related jobs with the knowledge that will allow them to Professional Societies.
make better decisions about their ocean- The site lists more than 200 ocean-related
Why related educational programs. societies that provide advice, access to
The MATE Center created Economic consequences. mentors, current information on the field, for three primary Approximately twenty percent of the U.S. and even scholarships.
reasons: economy relies on ocean-related activities; Profiles.
Lack of information. one in six jobs is ocean-related. An inade- provides profiles of
The industry lacks a detailed, centralized quately prepared workforce can profoundly employees, educational institutions and
information source on ocean-related careers. impact the many sectors of the economy that employers.
And because Department of Labor job rely on ocean-related occupations, such as The MATE Center is testing
classifications combine marine and land-based national security and defense, transportation with a variety of audiences
occupations, many occupations are not and commerce, energy and exploration and has included ample comment boxes
recognized as marine-related. As a result, activities, telecommunications, recreation throughout the siteso take a look and let us
many marine-related occupations lack and tourism, fisheries and aquaculture, know what you think! is a
visibility to those interested in marine search and recovery operations, nautical/ long-term project that will continue to improve
careersand new and emerging occupations underwater archeology, government and expand, so be sure check back frequently.
have not yet been classified. assessment and regulation, scientific/
Deidre Sullivan, Curriculum and
Changing technologies. medical research, and education.
Industry Manager
Comprehensive large-scale studies in areas Information Available on 3
such as marine fisheries and El Nio require California COSEE is part of a National Science Foundation
multidisciplinary approaches, with technol- (NSF) network created to foster scientists involvement in ocean
ogy playing a key role. Recent trends in addresses these chal- science education. One of seven COSEE Centers nationwide,
ocean-related careers include the increased lenges by bringing together six databases California COSEE represents a powerful collaboration among
that provide detailed information about: the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkeley, the Marine
use of technologies such as remote sensing, Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center at Monterey
computers and databases, microelectronics, Occupations. Peninsula College, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the
and biotechnology. Many educational The web site provides descriptions of more Birch Aquarium at Scripps, and California Sea Grant.