At sea testing was performed at the Goliath Oil Field in the Barents Sea on the 2nd and 3rd of February 2009 to demonstrate the systems performance under design conditions. With Mother Nature's cooperation we experienced exceptional weather conditions to really challenge any systems capability in air temperatures running between -3 to +4 °C with high winds and heavy seas.
The buoys transmitted GPS position, speed and direction via AIS and IRIDIUM communication systems. Once the signals from the targets were picked up at a distance of 7NM away, we never lost contact with the buoys.
Weather conditions proved to be far more demanding than initially planned. Instead of moderate to strong breezes as hoped for, we found ourselves having to perform the test in strong breeze to storm conditions with violent storm gusts above 22m/s and wave heights at times exceeding 9m.
As it turned out we were quite lucky as the buoys must work and survive extremely harsh weather and wave conditions when responding to oil spill or man overboard events. These buoys were literally "thrown off the deep end" and had to learn how to swim.
The AIS Tracking Drift Buoys followed each other as designed. They drifted a little faster than the Met/Ocean Current drift buoy (Iridium Satellite Comms). This was expected considering the effect surface winds have on the AIS buoy designed with the same drift characteristics as floating oil.
When comparing the buoy track with the oil spill drift model we see that the buoy closely follows changes in weather conditions and gives immediate response in changing conditions to the vessel.