Expanding Underwater Search Capabilities
Over the past year a number of Asian companies and government agencies have acquired underwater search equipment to aid in the location of lost objects and assist in performing survey operations.
In China, Guangzhou Advanced Maritime Academy has added a remote operated underwater vehicle (ROV) to their program. Reforms and opening to the outside world have paved the way for development of the country’s shipping industry. The throughput of cargo and containers at China’s ports has been the largest in the world for the past five years with an annual growth rate of 35%. The mission of the academy is to train people to work in this burgeoning field using the latest technology. ROVs are now routinely employed in ports for inspection of ship’s hulls and propulsion systems. They are also used to appraise the integrity of piers, seawalls, and other underwater structures. The underwater vehicle the academy selected is the SeaLion made by JW Fishers Mfg.
Another Chinese agency buying underwater search equipment is Tianjin Science Instruments and Equipment Corp. The state run firm is responsible for supplying equipment to the vast array of government agencies within the province. The company has acquired a dual frequency side scan sonar from Fishers. The system consists of a towfish with 100K and 600K transducers mounted on each side, 100 meters of tow cable, and a laptop computer running custom software. The side scan produces detailed images of the bottom of a river, lake, or ocean. It allows the system operator to see the make up of the bottom (i.e. rocks, sand, mud) and any objects lying there, regardless of water clarity. The sonar can perform a variety of functions from mapping navigable waterways, to searching for sunken vessels, and locating drowning victims.
In Korea, Sonar Tech Co Ltd, a pioneer in the design and manufacture of equipment for underwater research is using a PR-1 acoustic receiver made by Fishers. The receiver helps find towed equipment that may become entangled on the bottom and separates from the umbilical. It also allows measuring instruments anchored to the seafloor to be quickly and easily relocated. The PR-1 pinpoints the exact position of the missing device by detecting a signal transmitted by an acoustic pinger attached to the equipment. The receiver can either be deployed from a boat or carried by a diver, and is capable of detecting the acoustic signal at hundreds of meters away.
Bekk Solutions Ltd. in Hong Kong offers a wide range of services for their customers in both the underground and underwater industries. The company owns a diverse fleet of specialized equipment with inventory strategically stationed in the UAE, India, Hong Kong, Thailand, and Singapore. Bekk has now acquired Fishers PT-1 pipe tracker. This hand-held pinpointing magnetometer does an excellent job of locating and tracking deeply buried pipes and armored cables. One of the key advantages of the PT-1 is its ability to locate pipes and cables that are within close proximity of iron and steel structures such as reinforced concrete walls, piers, and bridges.
Vietnam’s Dat Hop Company Ltd. is a leader in the area of leasing equipment for survey operations. They offer equipment by many of the most prestigious manufacturers of oceanographic instrumentation and software including Teledyne Odom, Hypack, GeoMax Positioning, Leica Geosystem, Nikon, Magellan Professionals, and Tocon. Recently the Dat Hop acquired Fishers SeaOtter-2 ROV to add to its extensive lease pool. The 500 foot depth rated underwater vehicle has high resolution color cameras in front and rear, and a four motor propulsion system that makes it highly maneuverable. With a weight of less than 20 kilos, the vehicle can easily be deployed by one person to perform any type of underwater inspection operation.
NAVA19 Engineering Co. Ltd in Thailand provides its customers with variety of marine engineering services including location and tracking of underwater power and communication cables. The company is using JW Fishers CT-1 cable tracking system to assist in these operations. The tracking system has two parts; the signal injector which induces a frequency into the cable and the gun-like probe that detects the signal. The probe can be carried by a diver or deployed from a boat and easily detects the injected signal at a range of more than 10 meters. With live power cables it is not necessary to induce a signal as the probe detects the 50 Hz or 60 Hz electrical frequency. The system can also help find faults and breaks in the line.
Korea’s Daekee Marine Corp. is a member of the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation. The company manufactures marine lighting systems, installs aids to navigation, and is involved in the construction of lighthouses. An essential tool routinely used in performing this work is the TOV-1 towed underwater video unit obtained from JW Fishers. The system is compact enough to fit in a small boat and be deployed by one person, but robust enough to withstand the rigors of a commercial operation. With the TOV-1 they can do a video survey of the ocean bottom in areas where navigation buoys are deployed to ensure the mooring system is stable and secure. Using the VRM-1 video monitor with built-in video recorder purchased with the system, Daekee is able to record the entire survey operation and provide a DVD complete with position coordinates, text overlay, and audio commentary. For more information on JW Fishers underwater search systems go to www.jwfishers.com.