Hydrographic survey completed using an Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV)


An enforced confidentiality agreement restricts disclosure of details of client and project location.

Blue Ocean Monitoring (Blue Ocean) were contracted to conduct hydrographic surveys within two enclosed ponds at an oil refinery site in South East Asia. The ponds are used to store and treat oil refinery ballast water, however microbial action in the water results in sedimentary deposits which build up over time. Both water depths, and depth of sediment deposit (sludge) were required to allow for operational planning to manage sludge levels. Historically, water and sediment depth measurements were collected manually at this site, using a small vessel and incremented pole.

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The key objectives of this project were to:

  • Improve the safety of data collection by removing need for personnel on vessel

  • Improve the accuracy and resolution of survey data

  • Improve the efficiency of survey execution and production of data

A Teledyne Oceanscience Z-Boat 1800HS with hull integrated Valeport MIDAS Surveyor Single Beam Echo Sounder (SBES) was used for the survey. Real-time survey control was achieved using the systems Differential GPS (DGPS) and UHF radio controller; whilst vehicle position and collected data were transmitted over Bluetooth, coordinated through QPS QINSy' software.

The total combined survey area for the two sites was approximately 36,000 square metres, with over 11 km survey lines captured at an average speed of 2.5 knots. The entire survey took less than 12 hours, from arriving on site to the demobilisation of equipment and personnel.

Keith Wallace, Group Chief Commercial Officer for Blue Ocean, said "We were successful in achieving all of the project objectives, clearly demonstrating that unmanned technology can improve the quality, resolution and accessibility of survey data, whilst reducing both HSE risks and project costs". He added "We are very excited to add hydrographic surveys from unmanned surface vehicles to our service portfolio, which aligns with our global growth and diversification strategy".

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