DeepOcean case study: Integrating marine web mapping with live data telemetry from offshore cable installation and trenching vessels

Case study - DeepOcean - Marine equipment - Page header - 663x320

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With the IRIS/V-NODE solution, Lloyd's Register has delivered a truly innovative capability and cost-effective service which provides DeepOcean with critical operational visibility to its submarine cables projects. When the IRIS/V-NODE solution is deployed, the offshore and onshore teams can work efficiently, sharing the same data, and it also supports our project team in forecasting and planning. The IRIS team provides dedicated and responsive support which is hugely valuable to DeepOcean.

– DeepOcean Trenching Manager, Jim Pyrah Quote marks right

Client: DeepOcean UK
Location: Offshore NW Europe
Sector: Submarine cables

About DeepOcean

DeepOcean is a primary offshore contractor specialising in submarine cable installation and trenching projects in the UK and overseas.

Project scope

There has been a significant increase of submarine cables being installed across the globe for both power and telecoms transmission.

The offshore wind industry is at the forefront of activities, requiring multiple 'array' cables connecting turbines to offshore substations and export cables carrying power to shore. The latest cable technology allows interconnector power cables to be installed across seas and oceans creating new regional energy distribution opportunities.

The cable installation and trenching contractors are busy servicing this demand and operate within a competitive market place demanding optimal project performance and efficiency.

During offshore operations, close visibility to project progress and performance is important. This includes monitoring trenching speed, plough tow force and depth of burial. Deviations from expectation may identify operational or technical issues requiring intervention and optimisation of project planning.

There is also a need to independently store information and review and replay trenching performance data, vessel movements and metocean observations to support project variations.

As a leading submarine cable contractor with a number of key projects running through 2016, 2017 and 2018. DeepOcean sought solutions and services to enable its onshore project teams to access positioning, survey and trenching data in near real time.

Integrating this data within its existing LR IRIS project web maps would provide the context of regional and local soils data, bathymetry, gradients and metocean data whilst simultaneously providing a truly integrated offshore project management tool to DeepOcean.

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Technical specifications

  1. Provide cost-effective plug and play system(s) to interface with on-board trenching and survey computer systems and transmit received data in real time to secure cloud storage platform.
  2. Allow authorised users to readily access the data through a web map application; facilitate both real-time and replay visualisation using intuitive web dashboard components and time series plots.
  3. To display in real-time and replay modes, the positions of all project vessels and deployed assets, such as ROV and plough, together with all third party vessels in the vicinity of operations.

How Lloyd's Register helped

LR provided DeepOcean secure access to its innovative IRIS web mapping site. IRIS integrates a wide range of geospatial datasets relevant to offshore operations. Data includes hydrographic charts, bathymetry, BGS soils and sample data, offshore infrastructure and metocean observations, predictions and forecasts. IRIS also incorporates vessel tracking using a range of proprietary and third party data sources.

LR commissioned marine electronics company Electech Solutions Ltd to develop a ruggedised system unit to automatically collect on-board positioning and trenching performance data and then package and transmit it to the IRIS cloud database platform using vessel VSAT or in-built Iridium satellite communications.

Named the V-NODE, the unit also incorporates internal GPS, heading and AIS sensors allowing live monitoring on IRIS of all vessel movements in the vicinity of operations, fully independent of terrestrial or satellite AIS data availability issues.

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V-NODE unit

With input from DeepOcean's technical team, LR created a suite of IRIS dashboards accessed through a dedicated "Trenching Status" module. Data including depth of burial, plough speed and tow force is plotted in series against time or KP and viewed across multiple passes or campaigns. Data is directly downloadable from the IRIS website for detailed analysis within applications such as Excel.

The vessel tracking functionality of IRIS was also enhanced to identify, store and replay an unlimited number of vessels throughout the duration of a project without degradation to system performance.

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Trenching parameters time series

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Vessel and trenching asset tracks


DeepOcean has implemented LR's IRIS service across a number of its submarine cable projects in planning and operational phases. The latest V-NODE unit has recently been installed and interfaced to vessel systems in support of the T3200 trencher, allowing DeepOcean to access and maximise the value of acquired data previously largely confined to onboard systems during operations.

Benefits to the client

Operational visibility

Early identification of operational and performance issues, allowing early intervention driving project efficiency.

Create an invaluable database

A permanent record of trenching asset performance within identified soil types and metocean conditions, contributing to improved scheduling and costing on future tenders and projects.

Independent record of events

Independent and re-playable record of project activities, trenching performance and vessel movements.

Easy access to data

A single source of individual and multi-project data securely hosted in the cloud, available 24/7/365 and accessible by any authorised user with internet-enabled devices including laptop, tablet and smart phone.

Project planning

Improved scheduling and forecasting, based upon actual performance data in the field.

Efficient onshore technical support

Optimal support and communications between offshore and onshore teams, problem-solving using common datasets.

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