Driving under its own power, the mighty Rock Trencher (RT-1) has rolled out of the SMD production facility in Tyneside. Too large to fit through the door, special arrangements were required to transport the 2.3MW unit to its owners, CTC Marine Projects in Teesside. Paul Arthur, Project Manager at SMD, commented "We have had to remove an entire wall of the production facility to mobilise the RT-1."
RT-1 is the world's largest and most powerful subsea rock trenching vehicle for the burial of pipelines.
Working at depths of up to 500m, the vehicle is driven on wide plastic tracks enabling it to manoeuvre on various seafloor terrains. Two giant cradles capable of lifting 65 tonnes each provide the strength to lift a pre-laid 1.5m diameter pipe into the safety of supporting pipe roller cradles. Huge tungsten carbide tipped chain cutters are configured in a novel 3-cutter arrangement to excavate a 2m trench through up to 40MPa compressive strength rock beneath the pipe. Spoil is removed by four very large dredge pumps before the pipe is then lowered into the trench.
Coupled with this strength the RT-1 is also flexible enough to cope with soft seabed conditions. Buoyancy is provided by two enormous air-filled tanks with the capacity to reduce the RT-1's weight-in-water to 20 tonnes. Used in conjunction with a jetting-only option, the RT-1 is able to fluidise sand to bury the pipe. When soil conditions get harder again the buoyancy tanks can discharge air to increase the effective weight-in-water.
Mike Jones, Sales Director at SMD, commented "It's existing to see it emerge after 18 months of development work, including scales tests, in partnership with CTC and their clients. The result is a machine which will set a new benchmark for the protection and stabilisation of pipelines in the increasingly challenging environments from where we are extracting oil and gas."
SMD is one of the world's leading subsea engineering companies designing and manufacturing ROVs, trenching systems, Curvetech components and special projects. They have a worldwide customer base operating in markets in oil and gas, telecoms, mining, salvage, military and scientific research.
CTC Marine Projects is a subsea contractor, based in North East of England, UK, specialising in Trenching of subsea pipelines, flowlines and cables. CTC has a modern, comprehensive state of the art trenching fleet able to operate in all soil conditions and all water depths. Installation of subsea cables (umbilicals, ISU's, power band telecommunications) and flexible flowlines in deep and ultra deep water.