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Fishers ROVs Go Deep for Government and Industry

Tags: sl2, rovs, video

HT Marine's Rudy Watts with his SeaLion-2 ROV
Inset photo: Jotun coating advisor with their SeaLion-2

Many government agencies and marine service companies are acquiring ROVs to assist in their underwater operations. These highly maneuverable remote operated vehicles perform a variety of tasks at depths of 1,000 feet or more. Deploying an ROV instead of a diver can reduce the cost and increase the safety of any search or inspection operation.

One of the agencies using this technology is the Travis County Sheriffs Department in Texas. When a teenager went missing while swimming in local lake, dive teams searched for four days without success. Officers from Travis Sheriffs Department were then called in. Using their JW Fishers SeaOtter-2 ROV the officers located the victim in less than 4 hours. Lieutenant Joe Escribano reports, "We are extremely pleased with the ROV. It has saved hundreds of hours of diving in our searches for weapons and drowning victims. The SeaOtter is equipped with a scanning sonar which allows us to see things much further away than the video camera is capable of. This is a tremendous advantage in the low visibility environments of our local lakes and rivers." The department also acquired the RMD-1, which is a metal detector that attaches to the front of the vehicle, allowing them to locate weapons and other metal objects buried in the bottom.

Another agency employing the ROV is the US Army Corps of Engineers. The USACE is responsible for investigating, developing, and maintaining the nation's water and related environmental resources. One of the facilities under their jurisdiction is the Ice Harbor Lock and Dam in Washington state. This congressionally authorized project consists of the dam, a powerhouse, navigation lock, fish ladders, a removable spillway, and a juvenile fish bypass. The dam is more than 2,800 feet long and 100 feet high and provides hydroelectric generation, recreation, and irrigation for the area's residents and businesses. One of the tools helping the Corps in its inspection and maintenance operations is Fishers SeaLion ROV. The engineers have been using this system for more than 20 years and recently upgraded to the new smaller, lighter, and faster SeaLion-2 with high resolution color cameras in both front and rear.

VEIT is one of the Midwest's leading specialty contractors and waste management companies. They are listed in the top 20 firms in this industry by Engineering News Record magazine. Their services encompass foundation and excavation work, utility installation and maintenance, and demolition. They also perform a variety of commercial diving work including underwater cutting and welding, video inspections, marine construction and salvage, as well as bridge and dam inspection and repair. To assist in these operations the firm recently acquired Fishers SeaLion-2 ROV. Operations supervisor Aaron Faken reports the vehicle augments the work of their commercial divers by allowing pre-inspection of sites before putting the diver down, saving time and money.

Based in Florida, Morris and Riley Development Management are involved in all phases of residential and commercial property development from design and permitting through construction and management. Cofounder Bill Riley's hands-on experience combined with partner Matt Morris's expertise in engineering make a powerful combination enabling them to provide customers like Community Development Districts (CDDs), Homeowner's Associations, and private developers with a broad array of services. One of the jobs routinely called for is the inspection of drainage pipes in these developments. In Florida any manner of things can block the flow through these waterways, from tree roots to alligators. Instead of using a diver for these important operations, the team decided an ROV was a better way to go, and the unit they selected was the SeaLion-2. Mr. Riley reports he's happy with the choice of the ROV as it is working well and never complains when it comes "face to face" with the occasional gator.

Another Florida outfit running an ROV is HT Marine in Chipley. Owner Rudy Watts says he does a lot of work for local utilities, routinely being called on to locate and inspect subsea cables and pipelines. Another regular customer is US Air Force located at nearby Tyndall Air Base. If an aircraft, or a piece of one, goes missing out in the gulf, Rudy and his team may be called in to help. Two pieces of equipment they rely on for these operations are Fishers Diver Mag 1 magnetometer, a high power metal detector, and the SeaLion-2. In a recent search operation the team at HT Marine used the ROV to locate an important instrument package for the Air Force which went down in 110 feet of murky water, saving hours of dive time.

Jotun in Norway is a world leader in marine coatings. Their products offer protection for all parts of vessels large and small. In addition to supplying the coatings, the company also offers technical advice and assistance. From the earliest planning stage of a newbuild, throughout the life of the vessel, Jotun is there to help its customers achieve the most effective and economical results. The company's 600 coating advisors are in locations around the globe, aiding clients in the selection and application of the best product for their environment. There are times when an advisor may be require to examine the underwater portion of a ship's hull, either before or after it's coated. To more quickly facilitate these inspections Jotun acquired a SeaLion-2.

A few of the many other organizations using Fishers ROVs are the Port of Los Angeles, Aberdeen-based Sigma Offshore, Guangzhou Maritime College in China, Narwhal Environmental Consulting in Canada, Beijing Hydrosurvey, Fall River Police Department in Massachusetts, Colville Confederated Tribes in Washington, Saratoga County Sheriff in NY, Dubai Police in United Arab Emirates, and universities in Alaska, Maine, and Saudi Arabia.