SeaBotix recently teamed with SEAmagine Hydrospace Corporation, manufacturers of one-atmosphere submersibles, to create a truly unique and revolutionary system for client Mike Caplehorn. The Deep-C, number 9 in SEAmagine's lineup, is its newest 2-man Ocean Pearl model which is ABS Classed and rated to a depth of 320m. SeaBotix worked closely with SEAmagine engineering including President Will Kohnen to integrate its 320m-rated LBV300 HD including a purpose-built Tether Management System (TMS) with ROV garage and a tractor drive to deploy and retrieve the LBV.
One special feature, a SeaBotix Guillotine Cutter, was added at the drum. Since the primary use for the LBV is to film in and around shipwrecks, the ability to cut the LBV tether should Deep-C be irreversibly entangled was critical to achieve ABS Class for the submersible. The emergency system requires three active operations to function.
The LBV300 HD is the first miniROV with a truly-integrated high definition 1080i video system. Employing a Sony block camera installed within the camera enclosure, it has the same 180-degree tilting capability as the standard cameras. The video feed is via SeaBotix' 8mm fiber-optic tether with 100Kg working load. By building the system into the LBV Camera Enclosure without changing the vehicle profile, HD LBVs can also carry and simultaneously run other large sensors on a lower Tool Skid. The hydrodynamic efficiency and payload capability is the same as standard LBVs. In the case of Deep-C's LBV300 HD, this allowed space to mount both a universal 3-Jaw Grabber and another powerful Guillotine Cutter for dual manipulator functionality.
This capability was critical to Mike, as the secondary function of the LBV is to help free Deep-C from entanglement should it be caught in kelp, abandoned nets, and other detritus. An email to SeaBotix from Mike a day after completing a successful 10 day expedition to Catalina Island with SEAmagine including four dives over two days of LBV pilot training with SeaBotix' Global Sales Manager, Sean Newsome, proved the utility of this feature. Deep-C performed 42 hours of diving through 23 dives in conditions ranging from the shallow sandy bottom for LBV training, to large kelp fields and 300m deep ledges under strong wind, surge, and current conditions.
"Sean, I enjoyed working with you and am sure we will catch up again. Following your tutorials and hands-on training in your test tank, lake, and on site on Deep-C, I felt reasonably comfortable with regards to launching, using, and recovering the SeaBotix LBV.
Little did I expect that on the very next dive I would be forced to deploy the LBV due to the inability of Deep-C to clear a large flat section of kelp that was threatening to block one of my thrusters. The normal procedure is to simply reverse the submersible and have the kelp exit the tube, which is immediately in front of the thruster.
You will be pleased to know we successfully launched the ROV and maneuvered it so we could view what was the cause (a section of rock was attached to the kelp and had entered the tube). Using the ROV we were then able to clear the tube and proceed with the dive.
Picture left: HD LBV300 overlooking SEAmagine Deep-C. Picture right: HD LBV300 investigates ahead of Deep-C.
Considering we were in an area where surge was moving the sub, the kelp, and the ROV, it is indeed a testament to your training that this complicated task was achieved. The constant depth and heading capabilities of the SeaBotix LBV were key to allowing us to achieve this in these conditions. Cheers and best regards, Mike"
The experience was also unique and rewarding for Sean as it is not often you are working with clients from within a submarine or receive such immediate feedback on how the training has already paid off:
"I've spent a combined year and a half underwater on Trident Submarines in the Navy, but this was the first time I had a big transparent ‘pearl' of a window. Deep-C is an impressive, high performance machine as is the LBV, which performed flawlessly each day. Watching Mike repeatedly deploy and retrieve the LBV from the TMS was like witnessing a moon landing. It was such a pleasure to see Mike control Deep-C with one hand and, once he locked in the LBV's depth and heading, hold station in measurable current on the LBV with the other hand using just the joystick. His excitement about how the well the submersible/ROV interface worked was fantastic to witness."
"The real highlight came on Saturday morning, the day after our last dives, when Mike called me at home early in the morning excited to have used the LBV to clear the fouling without having to abort the dive. A call like that from a client like Mike is what makes this work so rewarding."
Knowing the LBV was immediately successful in both the primary mission of holding steady in current as the second point of view system (alongside the fixed-mount HD pan & tilt on the submersible), as well as the secondary mission of being an emergency rescue tool at +300m just one day after training is very gratifying to the SeaBotix crew. It is believed that Deep-C is now the smallest one-atmosphere manned-submersible on record to deploy an ROV. SeaBotix is proud to be part of this accomplishment and to have supplied the world's first truly-integrated HD video system in the miniROV class and smaller.