Protecting our safety with an ROV


There is currently a threat to the infrastructure in the North Sea. This vital infrastructure must be protected against sabotage and digital attacks. This is necessary to lead our daily lives safely, environment, climate and energy generation. To protect the infrastructure, work must be done at a depth of 80 meters, under water. An ROV is the perfect candidate for jobs like this.

The North Sea contains an enormous amount of cables, pipes and wind farms that, among other things, make our energy supply and internet connections possible. Rijkswaterstaat already presented some facts about the North Sea. For example, in the Dutch part of the North Sea there are 2,500 kilometers of pipelines and 4,000 kilometers of cables. Rijkswaterstaat also investigates water and soil quality with an ROV and uses this to track lost cargo and shipwrecks.

A current threat                                                                                                                                                                                                        The sabotage of Nord Stream, cut cables off the coast of Norway and Taiwan and an increased threat from China and Russia in several places are a few examples of the security problems taking place in this area. The Johan de Witt Conference has called for prioritizing the protection of seabed infrastructure. This is a conference on maritime-military, political and business topics. The French already have a new strategy for Seabed Warfare, the United Kingdom is developing special frigates and Belgium has a Minister for the North Sea. With an ROV you can detect and identify objects that do not belong in this infrastructure. This is because the ROV is equipped with a full-color 4K HD camera and sonar, which sees everything underwater and detects every crack from up to 40 meters away.

A map of the North Sea

Difficult situation                                                                                                                                                                                                    What makes the situation in the North Sea so difficult is that there is a lack of legislation and regulations regarding who is allowed to conduct research on the seabed. This causes a lot of uncertainty. 97 percent of communication, such as telephone calls, data or emails, runs via submarine fiber optic cables. These cables are not managed by the government, but by many different private parties. Currently, those with the best equipment can get to this infrastructure the fastest. Work has to be done at a depth of 80 meters, where it is pitch dark.

Protection with an ROV                                                                                                                                                                                        A perfect means to monitor the infrastructure in the North Sea in these circumstances is an ROV. This underwater drone can reach a depth of 200 to 305 meters, depending on the ROV. The ROV has sonar that sees underwater as well as the human eye. Sonar detects every small crack and subsidence up to 40 meters away. In addition, the underwater drones are equipped with shadowless, dimmable LED spotlights. This makes everything clearly visible, even in the dark. For example, cracks in pipes and broken cables.

Because many wind turbines are still being built in the North Sea, the underwater situation is becoming more threatening than ever. In the coming years, this sea will function as one of the largest power stations in the world. This means even more power cables, in addition to the existing fiber optic cables and oil and gas pipelines. This makes the infrastructure on the seabed increasingly vulnerable. Deploying an ROV can help detect explosives or eavesdropping equipment, for example. Thanks to the full-color 4K HD camera and sonar on this ROV, investigating the underwater infrastructure is a simple job that produces a clear image. This is still difficult, because without the use of an ROV with sonar, cracks and defects are difficult to discover at a depth of 80 meters in dark water.

See below, how sonar works:

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