Marine Technology Reporter Blogs

Wave Glider Capabilities and Uses

November 4, 2013

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The Wave Glider is the first unmanned autonomous surface vehicle (ASV) to use wave energy for propulsion. Its ability to stay out at sea gathering data for long periods of time, through all weather conditions, and communicate real-time data from the surface of the ocean, assures it has a wide array of uses both for academia and for the offshore industry. First introduced in 2009, Wave Gliders have since traveled more than 300,000 nautical miles, set a world record for longest distance traveled by an autonomous vehicle, and been deployed on more than 100 customer missions ranging from the Canary Islands and the UK in the Atlantic Ocean to Australia in the Pacific Ocean to the Arctic.

Asymmetrical Icebreaker - Arctic Multipurpose Vessel

September 21, 2013

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A new asymmetrical design for Arctic icebreakers is capable of opening larger paths for other ships to navigate in the harsh Arctic winter, this oblique icebreaker, NB 508, is being built by Finish shipbuilder Arctech in Helsinki. This icebreaker drifts sideways allowing it to cut a channel as much as 30% wider than channels made by conventional icebreakers that hit the ice head-on. The €76 million ($103 million) ship has been designed with an asymmetrical hull that inclines steeply and is heavily reinforced on its left side, to bear the brunt of the icebreaking. Although the ship can go faster in open water or while icebreaking head-on…

OTC Brasil 2013 – Tech Highlights: Marlin AUV

January 6, 2014

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The Technical Program at the OTC Brasil 2013 was definitely one of the event’s major attractions. There we’re dozens of presentations and panels during each of the 3 days, and it was definitely hard to pick which to attend. I personally went to about 12 of these and not one disappointed me. I have to start somewhere, so I actually chose a presentation from the last day to begin this series. At this point I believe that just about everyone knows what an AUV is, but in case you don’t, it is the acronym for Autonomous Underwater Vehicle. These come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, having various capabilities and possible uses. I must admit that I was impressed with the Lockheed Martin Marlin® AUV. At first glance it resembles what you’d expect from any top of the line AUV.

OTC Brasil 2013 – Opening Day Highlights

October 31, 2013

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The Offshore Technology Conference Brasil 2013, was only the 2nd time the conference was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, yet it was obvious that the conference had grown in size and scope. During the 3 days a long list of interesting and even some exiting Technical Sessions took place, addressing everything from Local Content to the latest in Deepwater Technology. After the Opening Session on Tuesday October 29th, which was presented by OTC and IBP (Brazilian Petroleum Institute) senior executives and the OTC Brasil Technical Program Chairman, the main event was the Topical Luncheon on Planning and Management of Offshore Oil Opportunities in Brazil: Petrobras Perspective, which had as its speaker Petrobras CEO Maria das Graças Foster.

To Catch A Better Fish, You Need a Better Fishing Net

October 30, 2013

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The Government of New Zealand has teamed up with three local fishing companies to tackle a huge issue facing the world's oceans today - bycatch. Earlier this month Precision Seafood Harvesting (PSH) released images from what has been dubbed "the future of sustainable fishing", a new net design that aims to sort and release juvenile fish and other non-target species that happen to get caught in the fishing process. "This is the biggest step forward for commercial fishing in 150 years," said Eric Barratt, CEO of Sanford Limited, one of the local fishing companies that collectively funded half of the $52 million pricetag on the project. "What we've developed in New Zealand has huge benefits for fish stocks, the environment, consumers and New Zealand's seafood industry.

And "Spoof!", The Ship Was Gone

October 27, 2013

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Researchers from Trend Micro have discovered a loophole that could allow hackers to manipulate a ship's Automatic Identification System (AIS). Using just laptops and cheap radio equipment, the researchers found that they were able to change the position of ships that currently existed, create ships out of thin air, and modify Aid to Navigation (AToN) entries such as buoys and lighthouses. Their research was presented last week at the Hack in the Box conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Hundreds of thousands of commercial and recreational ships, along with port authorities worldwide, use AIS to track and monitor the positions of ships. In 2004, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) mandated that AIS transponders be installed on all vessels over 299 tonnes.

Brazil Launches Oil Spill Containment Plan

October 23, 2013

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Finally, after much criticism from environmentalists, politicians and even from oil industry executives, the Brazilian government launches a comprehensive oil spill contingency plan. Ironically, the PNC (National Contingency Plan), is being launched one day after the giant Libra pre-salt field auction. It’s hard to understand why the PNC wasn’t announced before the Libra auction, especially if it was ready, as it must have been. The PNC plan, according to the biggest Brazilian newspaper O Globo, had been ready and shelved in a Brazilian State Department office for over one year. Interestingly, the plan was announced one day after this same newspaper alerted that the Libra field was going to be auctioned without any oil spill contingency plan ready.

Environmental Consequences of the Suape Port Complex

October 21, 2013

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Considered by some to be the best Port in Brazil, the Suape Port and Industrial Complex has become infamous with environmentalists due to the fact that researchers has singled it out as the primary cause of shark attacks along the beaches fronting the city of Recife, due to the destruction of mangroves and reef for the construction of the port. Situated between the cities of Ipojuca and Cabo de Santo Agostinho, in the state of Pernambuco in the Brazilian Northeast, it has an area of 140 square kilometers and 13.5 thousand hectares in extension divided into Port, Industrial, Administrative, Ecological Preservation and Cultural Preservation zones.

Shell Oil Suspends Operations in Arctic

October 21, 2013

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Following an inability to disclose what safeguards it has put in place after the grounding of an offshore oil rig in Alaska last New Years, Shell Oil and Russian-owned Gazprom have halted plans to create two new drilling rigs off the Russian island of Sakhalin. The move comes weeks after a report was released by Pew Charitable Trusts stating that drilling in the arctic presents "a new set of challenges and a larger set of risks" for O&G companies that plan on drilling in the arctic. The move also comes as Russia holds 28 activists and 2 photographers associated with Greenpeace for attempting to board a Russian oil rig in the Pechora Sea. Shell Oil's troubles in the Arctic have been ongoing for the last few years.

First Electric & Hybrid Boat Conference Held In Nice, France

October 17, 2013

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This weekend saw an event over 100 years in the making. Like electric cars, electric boats seemed to all but disappear at the start of the 20th century. The first electric boats debuted in the late 1800s but were soon replaced by internal combustion engines. But now, with the thrust of French Association of Electric Boats (AFBE) and over 50 presenters, these noiseless vessels of the ocean may be making their return. Aptly-named Plugboat 2013 drew 70 delegates from 14 countries to hear presentations about the state of the electric and hybrid boat industry today. The conference, which brought together industry, R&D, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) was sponsored by Torqueedo and lead by Belgium-based company Electri-City.

MMT Upgrades ROTVs for Offshore Surveys

October 16, 2013

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MMT is a Swedish marine survey company offering turnkey services, including two remotely operated towed vehicles (ROTV) equipped with various survey equipment for complete geophysical surveys. MMT has now upgraded the systems to be fully equipped with side scan sonars and sub bottom profilers, in addition to multi-beam echo sounders, inertial navigation system and doppler velocity log. This means a complete geophysical survey can be done from this platform in a speed of 6 knots and down to a water depth of 400 meters. The advantage of the ROTV is that it is a powerful tool for accurate line keeping during a survey. The upgrades system enhances the control of the tow-fish and allows both a constant altitude above the seafloor as well as maintaining the planned survey lines.

An Internet Underwater

October 15, 2013

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A team of researchers from the University of Buffalo, in collaboration with Teledyne Benthos, published a paper yesterday (PDF) that made sending an email from the deepest depths of the ocean seem just a little bit more feasible. To test their research, the team of researchers dropped two 40-pound sensors onto the bottom of Lake Erie and found that they were able to communicate with them from a laptop located onboard their vessel. "A submerged wireless network will give us an unprecedented ability to collect and analyze data from our oceans in real time," said Tommaso Melodia, an associate professor from University of Buffalo in a press release issued the other day. Two years ago, an earthquake off the coast of Japan killed over 15,000 and left millions without homes.

Franco Pre-Salt – New Monster Play in Brazil

October 14, 2013

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The Franco pre-salt field, which is located southwest of the massive Libra field that will be auctioned in October 21st, originally had been forecast to contain 3 billion barrels boe of recoverable light oil. In light of new studies, the Franco pre-salt field is now believed to contain recoverable oil volumes equal to or superior to the Libra pre-salt field, something hovering around 10 billion barrels boe. This is excellent news for Petrobras, which is in the process of making major exploratory, production and infrastructure investments and desperately needs new capital. The reason it being excellent news has nothing to do with oil auction…

SeaBED-class AUVs – The Deepwater Imager

October 11, 2013

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The SeaBED AUV, developed by WHOI scientist Hanumant Singh and colleagues, is an AUV that can fly slowly or hover over the seafloor to depths of 6,000 feet (2,000 meters), making it particularly suited to collect highly detailed sonar and optical images of the seafloor. SeaBED flies about 8 feet (2.5 meters) above the seafloor, flashing its strobe light and snapping a photo every three seconds. It maintains a constant altitude and speed of a ½ knot. Over the last seven years SeaBED-class AUVs have shown their versatility on missions ranging from shallow coral reef surveys to searches for deep-sea hydrothermal vents, in environments ranging from the open ocean to the dense ice cover of the Arctic.

Maldives Hires Jan De Nul To Reclaim Land

October 9, 2013

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After a Belgian dredging company failed to uphold their end of a contract, Maldivian real-estate company Housing Development Corporation (HDC) has decided to award another Belgian group, Jan De Nul, the task of reclaiming an additional 230 hectares of land to the artificially-made island of Hulhumale. The switch comes days after the Supreme Court in the Maldives annulled a decision that would have reinstated President Mohamed Nasheed. Nasheed is famous for bringing the world's attention to the plight of the Maldives by hosting the first underwater cabinet meeting off the island of Girifushi in 2009 to demonstrate the Maldives' potential for becoming overwhelmed by sea level rise in the coming decades.

Russian Navy’s Saturation Diving Rescue System

November 2, 2013

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After the Kursk exploded and sank in 2000, the Russian Admiralty recognized that they did not have an efficient system for rescuing stranded submariners. Some western submarine specialists went as far as claiming that such a system did not exist because the Russian Navy cared more about saving face than saving any crews that were eventually stranded. It is quite probable that such a system was not developed earlier due to the dire financial situation faced by Russia. The fact is that it has been 13 years since the Kursk tragedy, but Russia will now be able to deploy a modern, safe and efficient saturation diving rescue system, through its agreement with Divex, who have built 100 major saturation diving systems since 1974.

Remembering the Kursk Submarine Sinking

October 3, 2013

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On August 12 2000, K-141, a Russian Navy Oscar-II class nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine, known to the world as Kursk, was lost with all hands when it sank in the Barents Sea. Kursk, was a Project 949A (known by its NATO reporting name as Oscar II). It was named after the Russian city Kursk, where the largest tank battle in military history, the Battle of Kursk, took place in 1943 during WWII. One of the first vessels completed after the end of the Soviet Union, it was commissioned into the Russian Navy's Northern Fleet. At 154 m (505.03 ft) long and four stories high, she was the largest attack submarine ever built. The Kursk sortied on an exercise to fire dummy torpedoes at the Kirov-class battle cruiser, Pyotr Velikiy, flag ship of the Northern Fleet.

Submersible Incubation Device (SID)

October 1, 2013

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The main idea leading to the instrument developed by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Oceanographers was to automatically run microbiological incubations in situ – in this case underwater. This was deemed necessary in order to avoid having to bring the samples to the surface in order to incubate them, because by doing this, the samples would not be in the same habitat in which they live and would be subjected to different pressure, temperature, light, and other conditions, which would probably alter the way they function. The SID concept began to unfold more than 30 years ago through the vision of microbiologist Craig Taylor and engineer Ken Doherty at WHOI. They wanted a way to see exactly what the multitudes of microbes in the ocean were doing.

Tidal Current Power and Subsea Turbine Technology

September 30, 2013

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Tidal Current Technology extracts energy from the high tide bulge created by the gravitational pull of the Sun and Moon moving horizontally around the Earth’s surface. It does not require blocking of any waterways, and does not have the adverse environmental effects associated with Tidal Barrages. Coastal locations with strong tide variations and strong currents abound around all continents and Tidal current power gives us another opportunity to harness power from the sea without polluting it. If we take into consideration that seawater is 832 times denser than air, then a 1knot current has more kinetic energy than 70 km/h of wind. Tidal current energy takes this kinetic energy available in ocean currents and converts it into electricity.

Tidal Energy in Scotland - “The Crown Jewel of The Pentland Firth”

September 25, 2013

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Construction will soon begin on what is to be the largest tidal turbine energy project in Europe, following the Scottish government’s official approval of the concept and construction plans. The tidal stream project let by MeyGen Ltd. is at the forefront of world tidal energy development and will harvest the tidal resource from the strong tidal streams present along the Pentland Firth in an area that lies in the channel between the island of Stroma (part of the Orkney chain of islands) and the northeasterly tip of the Scottish mainland, encompassing almost 3.5km2 of fast flowing water. MeyGen’s goal is to deliver a fully operational, 398MW renewable energy plant powered purely by the tide, generating the equivalent electricity to power around 40,000 Scottish homes by 2020.