OTe 5170

ROV Involvement During Installation, Inspection, Maintenance,
and Repair of Offshore Structures
by A. Watt, G. Smith, and L. Goldberg, SubSea IntI. Inc.
Copyright 1986 Offshore Technology Conference
This paper was presented at the 18th Annual OTC in Houston, Texas, May 5-8, 1986. The material is subject to correction by the author. Permission
to copy is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words.
Eyeball Class: A small ROV which has
limited capability but can
adequately take still and
video pictures. Some
eyeballs can carry miniature
manipulators and tools.
When designing any offshore structure, the
designer takes into consideration many
factors. These i ncl ude: method of
installation, water depth (beyond diving
range?) maintenance routines, repair
techniques, expected structural life, etc.
Likewise the ROV operator must consider
which tasks have to be completed and choose
the ROV best suited to the work. He can
choose from his armory of:
-Eyeball Class ROV's
-Inspection Class ROV's
-Workhorse Class ROV's
This review paper addresses the role of the
Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) during
Installation, Maintenance and Repair of
Offshore Structures. Tasks encountered by
the ROV are discussed along with problem
areas where some research and development
is still required.- Two areas specifically
discussed are the removal of marine growth
for weld inspection and the tiulk removal of
marine growth in order to reduce structural
weight and loadings.
The ROV is now well established as a viable
tool for drilling and
conducting route and pipeline surveys.
Personnel associated with offshore
structure installation, repair and
maintenance have been slower to accept the
ROV. In many cases this is simply due to
the unawareness of an individual as to the
capability. It can also rightly be argued
that the ROV is still very limited in some
roles. It is the intention of this paper
to the tasks which an ROV
complete successfully and illustrate areas
where the ROV is limited and the reasons
why. Further research and development must
be encouraged by the oil companies and
research groups to overcome these
shortcomings if the ROV is to be utilized
to cut costs associated with installation,
repair and maintenance of offshore
structures. With successful research in
the areas discussed another hurdle will be
overcome in the history of the ROV
resulting in significant cost savings to
the end users ie the offshore structure
owners and operators.
References at end of paper.
I nspecti on Class:
Workhorse Class:
A slightly larger ROV
with improved but
limited manipulator
capability. It also
has a limited payload
of 50 to 100 lbs.
A high powered ROV
which can carry a
payload in excess of
2001bs and usually
carries two full sized
manipulators. It has
the capability of
interfacing many items
of equipment, some of
which can be custom
designed for the
appli cati on. Thi s
class is able to carry
out the majority of the
work tasks encountered
The offshore installation phase starts with
the tow-out of the structure to the chosen
site. Normal practice is to pre-lay a
transponder network to allow accurate
positioning of the structure relative to
the seabed target area. The barge moves in
and at this point the ROV can begin
worki ng.
1. Pre-site bottom survey.
The ROV verifies the depths and slope
on the seabed at the work site and
checks for debris. Any debris located
can be removed either by the ROV if
reasonably small, or by otherwise usi ng
surface lifting equipment, which can be
attached by the vehicle.
2. Monitor Structul'e Launch
Immediately after the launch, the ROV
checks to make sure all the cables and
lines on the j acke tare clear. The
ballast chambers are also inspected at
this time to ensure they are not
leaki ng.
3. structure Touchdown.
A survey around the structure is
carried out immediately after the
structure has landed. The leg
penetration is checked. The seabed is
checked for any scouring round
horizontals. The horizontals are also
checked at either end for depth which
gives an indication of how level the
structure has settled into position.
After these specific checks have been
carried out a full inspection of the
entire structure is carried out to
check for damage.
4. Recover Beacons.
The structure positioning beacons can
now be recovered. The beacons must be
located in ROV compatable brackets
which ensure easy recovery of these
units. It is essentTal that the ROV
tasks to be completed, be discussed and
planned with the ROV operators to
consider the dexterity of the ROY and
consider the various ways to accomplish
these tasks.
Periodic Inspection of structure for
As equipment occasionally gets dropped
over the side and sometimes causes
damage, it is necessary to have the
ability to dive and locate the
equipment and also to ascertain the
location and depth of any damage.
Equipment which has been dropped over
the side can be located using the ROV's
sonar system. The mani pulator( s) can
then be used to attach slings, hooks or
other attachments to enable the object
to be recovered.
An example from a recent job was the
recovery of a skirt pile guide which
had broken free from its mountings and
fell through the jacket. The 1000 lb.
pile guide was located using the ROV's
sonar and recovered to the surface by a
sling which the ROV attached.
The permanent video record which the
ROV can provide can greatly assist the
contractors to make a decision on the
severity of the damage and is a useful
aid in planning any repairs.
Monitor Driving of Skirt Piles.
The skirt pile guides can be used to
additional buoyancy if rubber
bladders are located at either end of
the guides. If this system is used the
ROV can monitor the lowering of the
penetration tool through the skirt pile
guides and confirm penetration of the
bladders. The tool should also be
monitored during the recovery process
as damage could still be incurred. The
first pile can now be lowered
followed by the hammer, both of these
require careful monitoring as they pass
through the skirt pile guides. It is
unlikely that a diver would be used for
such work due to noise and endurance.
Once everything is in position the ROV
can be used to monitor the hammering of
the skirt piles. If the piles are
marked a reasonable estimate of
penetration per hammer blow can also be
given to the contractor if an
underwater hammer is being used.
5. ROV Diver Assistance.
The ROY can assist the divers in a
variety of ways. Downlines can be
established and the work areas verified
prior to the diver entering the water.
Light and power can also be provided to
the diver by the ROY as it monitors the
work progress. The worksi te can also
be inspected after the diver has
completed his task thus confirming the
work has been satisfactorily completed.
Monitor Grout Returns.
The ROV is used to verify the grout
overflow valves are open. I f the
structure is fitted with a secondary or
override system the ROV can be used to
override the primary valves or operate
the back-up valves as necessary.
The cement returns around the skirt
piles can also be sampled or monitored
by an ROV carried grout density
10. Final Inspection
A final inspection should be made of
the and seabed by the ROV.
The objective should be to the
extent of the damage and if any debris
stills remains on the seabed. A check
of the anodes to ensure they are
mechanically sound and electrically
operational can also be made at this
the Phase of an
life, it is normal practice to
conduct routine underwater inspections.
The simplest inspection usually takes the
form of a diver or ROV simply swimming
along and around all structural members
taking video still photographs at points
of interest (such as holes or structural
di sconti nui ti es) . Photogrametri c
techniques cpn be applied to obtain
accurate measurements of indentations or
defects. In deep waters beyond dive depths
the ROV must be used. The next level of
inspection usually involves the diver or
ROV taki nq cathodi c potential (C. P. )
readings in order to confirm that the
structure is adaquately protected from
1. Detailed Inspection
In order to determine the inspection
cleaning requirements it is necessary to
first define what flaw characteristics the
observer is trying to detect. In the
majority of cases the inspection will be
visual to detect corrosion which may result
in holes, shotgun pi t t i ng, general uni form
corrosion or isolated pitting. Magnetic
particle techniques are used to highlight
defects which are not readily detectable
visually. Non-visual techniques may be
used when instruments such as wall
thickness or flooded member detectors are
There are basically four types of
inspection surface finishes which are found
in the offshore environment.
Inspection may be carried out on any of the
surface finishes listed below:
A. Uncleaned with very little marine
B. - Uncleaned with heavy marine growth
C. - Cleaned by the use of high to very
high pressure water blasters. The
type of surface finish will vary with
the type of jet, the pressures used
and the marine organisms to be
Before conducting a detailed inspection
it is usually necessary to remove
marine growth allowing transducers to
contact the surface of the worksite
material. This is necessary when
applying instruments to, detect defects
in welds. measure wall thickness or to
detect flooded members etc.
Removal of Marine Growth.
Marine growth is removed from offchore
structures for one of two reasons,
- to allow instruments to be applied,
and or to effect a repair
- Cleaned by the use of wire brushing,
grit blasting or a combination of
water blasting and wire brushing or
cavitation jetting and wirebrushing.
UnCleaned with Little Marine Growth
growth is seldom so light that
the original steel surfaces can readily
be distinguished. Even when marine
growth is light, it may present a
confusing background for the observer
to view. However, if the background is
uniform and thin, it may be possible to
distinguish some types of defects
without any cleaning.
- b'ulk r_emoval of mari ne growth to
reduce structure weight and drag
These separate requirements are very often
combined under the one common heading
"Marine growth removal" Experience has
shown that combination marine growth
removal systems have been developed which
are not suitable for either of
the above separate tasks. The cleaning
systems which have been adapted for ROV
use generally have used by divers
UnCleaned with Heavy Marine Growth
It is unlikely that any inspection
tasks are carried out where these
conditions exist apart from counting
the structural members of the platform
or looking for gross structural damage.
Cleaned by the use of high to very high
pressure water jetting blasters
High pressure water jetting systems
have been in use now for many years.
In the late 70' s 4 to 5000 psi was
considered to be high pressure. In the
early 1980' is 10000psi systems were
introduced shortly to be followed by
the introduction of 20 and 30000 psi
systems. Our experience has indicated
that 15000psi is the threshold for
removing hard calcareous marine
growth. Utilizing 20000 psi systems
welds can be cleaned to such a degree
that subtle corrosion and tight cracks
can be viewed by visual means. This
technology will allow welds to be
cleaned to what we term “primarily bare
metal” with the surrounding base metal
finished to a uniform thin black oxide.
Cleaned by the use of wire brushincs,
grit blasting or s combination of ‘“
waterblasting and wire brushing or
cavitation jetting and wire brushing.
Removal of marine growth by use of wire
brush is perhaps the method which has
been in use for the longest period of
time. It is costly because of the time
taken to cover the required area and to
obtain the surface finish required. ““
Selection of the proper wire brushing
head is very important as it will last
longer and save time and costs
associated with component change out.
To improve efficiency of this technique
water jetting supplemented with wire
brushing was introduced. The next
stage in the de’relopment was the
introduction of sand or grit slurry .
jetting systems. The surface finish is
considered to be better than that
achie”~ed b,y wire brushing i.e. a matt.
metal finish as compared to a bright
shiny metal finish. Three major
problems still exist with the slurry
systems these are:
an additional delivery hose is
required to deliver the sand or
grit which tends to be large and
the delivery hose also has a
tendency to block or clog
the system becomes expensive to
operate due to the amount of sand
consumed and the requirement for
additional “personnel to feed the
sand[grit surface hopper.
High pressure water jetting has already
been discussed. An improved finish can be
achieved when this is supplemented with
wire brushing or sand blasting, resulting
in a bare metal surface which is the
optimum finish for detailed inspection
The other alternative which exists is to
use a cavitation jetting system on its
own or supplement it with wire brushing.
Two cavitation jetting systems have been
evaluated, one at 1000Opsi and the other at
20000psi. It can be said that both systems
compare favorably against 1000Opsi water
jetting, but only equal the 20000 psi water
jetting system, i. e. removing all marine
growth almost as fast as the operator can
move the gun. However, additional cleaning
is required to remove the hard calcareous
Problems associated with cavitation jetting
- Stand off distance critical
- Cavitation tip and counter thruster
must be replaced frequently.
- High noise and vibration levels
which is uncomfortable for a diver
and may result in damage to the ROV
or the sensors it carries.
Comparison of Above Cleaning Systems.
The following tabulates results of trials
conducted on similar structural nodes each
with 166 ft of weld with similar marine
growth and at similar depths. Personnel
efficient with cleaning system were used on
all occasions.
*Cavitation ‘R”{’- the formation and
collapse of “#apor filled cavities, or
bubbles and the result of flow induced
pressure reductions in a fluid. A
cavitation nozzle accelerates the flow and
decreases the pressure below the vapor
pressure of water. This creates cavitation
bubbles which are entrained in the flow.
As the jet nears the work surface, the
pressure gradients increase and the bubbles
begin to deform and flatten. The
deformation creates a microjet of very hiqh
velocity within the bubble which penetrates
the interior of the cavity. The jet
acceleration and the cavit:y implosion
causes an extreme local pressure impact
upon the surface and erodes away marine
Item 1 and 2 produce surface finish which
is good for visual inspection.
Item 3 to 6 produce surface finish which is
good for all types of ND’f.
The other factor which must be considered
is the daily costs associated with the
hire, operation and support of the above
systems. This aspect is Rot addressed in
this paper.
The above systems are well tried and tested
by divers and have been. integrated into
Revs. When comparing the performance of
the diver & cleaning system against the ROV
and integrated cleaning system, the diver
combination must be favored at this time.
Mainly due t.o the dexterity of the diver.
The normal practice with the ROV is to try
and position or park it in a known location
relative to the work site. This allows the
manipulator held tool to be positioned in a
manner which is favorable to the
manipulator envelope. After cleaning a
short section of weld, the ROV would then
have to be repositioned at the next
suitable worksite whic”h could be
troublesome due to node configurations and
ROV size. The diver is very flexible and
can bend, twist and squeeze into a suitable
position to use the cleaning tools. Very
often the manipulators carried on the ROV
are blamed for lack of dexterity. This is
only partially true. Manipulators are
usually not designed with node cleaning as
a major consideration in the design
specification. !ihere it lias been
considered. it was found that the
manipulators were sized for a suitable node
configuration on one structure and were not
suitable for node configuration on other
3 Bulk Removal of Marine Growth
It is now considered necessary to
remove Crom many offshore structures
the heavy and thick build up of marine
growth in order to reduce the
additional weight of the growth from
the structure. By considering that
typical mollusk marine growth weighs
approximately 90 lbs per cubic foot it
can be envisaged how severe these
problems could become. Nany of the
bulk growth removal systems use the
technology whj.ch has been previously
discussed and have only found modest
succQsa whQn us.Qd in conjunction with
ROV’ S. Again the problem of gaining
access for example all around tubular
members and the different diameter of
members found on these a structures
should not be under emphasized.
The bulk removal of marine growth utilizing
ROVS is one area where research and
development is still required.
Investigation into cleaning by mechanical
cutters or ultrasound and other novel
cleaning techniques needs to be conducted.
The 1987 inspection maintenance and repair
budget for all sectors of the North Sea is
estimated at 3 billion dollars alone. It
is apparent that a real market exists for
the successful ROV cleaning system.
Development of such a system should include
team members such as marine scientist and
personnel who have experience of ROVs,
cleaning systems and manipulator
4. Structural Repair Programs
The ROV can provide support to divers
as previously discussed. Underwater
cutting and burning systems have been
built and tested for use in repair
procedures. Automatic welding systems
have been developed and will shortly
be interfaced to the ROV.
The ROV has now developed into a reliable
underwater work package from which a
variety of tools can be deployed. The
emphasis should now be placed on the
research and development of these tool
packages rather than on the ROVS
Keeney, C. : “Underwater Surface
Cleaning of Waterfront Structures”,
Technical Notes. TN no. N-1602
(Feb 1981).
Watt. A. and Gay, L.: “Submersibles
for Comprehensive Platform
Inspection”, Offshore Technology
Conference OTC 3723 (May 1980).
Watt, A.: “The Marine Maintenance
Inspection Machine”, Society of
Underwater Technology (1981).
Watt, A.: “Submersibles for
Comprehensive Platform Inspection”,
Inspection Repair & Maintenance
Conference (Feb 1981).
Watt, A.: “A Comparison of Manned and
Unmanned Vehicles”, Association of
Offshore Diving Contractors (1982).
Watt, A.: “Remote Installation and
Maintenance Requirements”, Electronics
in Oil 82 (Ott 1982)
:7) Watt. A: “Underwater Work Programmed
at 300M and Beyond”, Fourth A. O. D. C.
Underwater Engineering Symposium
:8) Watt., A: “An Operator’s View of
Remotely Operated Vehicles”, Subtech
(Nove 1983).
[9) Watt, A: “Reduced Downtime.
Maintenance and Service Costs Can
Only Result From Reliable Products
and Simplified Maintenance
Logistics”, LCCI (Nor/e 1984).
(10) Norman, D. and Kuehn. J. S. :
“Montanazo DZ Field ROV Intervention
System”, International Diving
Symposium (1986),

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