We’re Hiring!

Join Our UK Team as an Events Officer!

Are you an organized and creative individual with a passion for bringing people together? The Society for Underwater Technology is looking for an enthusiastic Events Officer to join our UK team!

As an Events Officer, you’ll play a pivotal role in planning and executing captivating events that bring the underwater technology community together. From conferences and workshops to networking events and webinars, you’ll have the opportunity to shape engaging experiences that foster knowledge exchange and collaboration.

This is a fantastic opportunity for someone with a keen eye for detail, strong organisational and communication skills, and a knack for event coordination.

Join us at the forefront of underwater technology innovation and help us create memorable events that inspire and educate.

Find out all the details and apply now by clicking here.



The Australasian Hydrographic Society (AHS) is pleased to announce that its internationally recognised hydrographic conference program will return in 2024. The four-day ‘HydroSpatial 2024 Conference‘ will be held from:

📆 9 – 12 April 2024

📍Hotel Grand Chancellor
Hobart, Tasmania [nipaluna, lutruwita]

The Conference theme “At the Edge” represents not only the island state’s location in the Southern Ocean, but also the cutting edge science and technology that we employ every day in the hydrospatial field. Focusing on the future of hydrography, and emerging developments and techniques, HydroSpatial 2024 will bring together speakers from varying maritime fields including:

  • specialist hydrographic streams,
  • maritime transport, oceanography,
  • research organisations,
  • offshore exploration,
  • environmental science,
  • maritime heritage,
  • defence,
  • tourism,
  • coastal development,
  • ports and harbours,
  • Law of the Sea, and
  • government.


Join us for an exciting and insightful conference experience like no other! Our HydroSpatial Conference brings together industry leaders, experts and enthusiasts from around the world to explore the latest trends, share knowledge and foster meaningful connections.

Discover cutting-edge ideas and gain valuable insights through our diverse line-up of keynote speeches, panel discussions and interactive workshops. Engage in thought-provoking conversations that address the most pressing challenges and opportunities in the hydrospatial field.


For more information, contact their event organiser:
📞+61 2 6285 3000
📩[email protected]



Mark your calendars for OCEANS 2024 Singapore, a premier partner event presented by The Marine Technology Society and the IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society.

If you’re a subsea professional, you can’t afford to miss this leading event focusing on marine robotics, underwater acoustics & sensing, sustainable ocean practices and conservation, plus much, much more. 

OCEANS 2024 Singapore offers a wide array of supplementary activities, including:

  • tutorials
  • workshops
  • demonstrations
  • government listening sessions and
  • professional field trips

These provide attendees with additional learning opportunities, hands-on experiences, and the chance to network and build connections in a relaxed and social setting.

📅April 14 – 18, 2024

📍Sands Expo & Convention Center


OCEANS 2024 Singapore is more than just a conference – it’s a collaborative platform that drives innovation, encourages knowledge sharing and cultivates meaningful connections within the oceanic engineering and marine technology community.

Join leading experts, researchers, and professionals to explore cutting-edge ideas and solutions to address our planet’s most pressing ocean challenges. Learn about the latest innovations and activities, discuss your needs with the best suppliers of marine and maritime products, network with like-minded individuals in the fields of ocean science and engineering.

OCEANS 2024 Singapore also presents a crucial hub for networking opportunities:

  • Meet with members of industry, academia, and government who want a common forum for the exchange of information and ideas
  • Learn from professionals involved in science and engineering that addresses research, development, and operations in all bodies of water
  • Talk with students interested in scientific and educational advancement in the theories and practice of electrotechnology and mechatronics
  • Connect with businesses and institutions interested in maintaining high professional and ethical standards among members and affiliates
  • Discover policymakers and administrators who want to know what is available to address monitoring, warning, and remediation issues

Don’t miss this enriching experience filled with insightful sessions, exciting exhibitions, and endless networking possibilities. Be a part of this global dialogue shaping a sustainable oceanic future.

REGISTER by February 10th for EARLYBIRD RATES!


A fun learning resource for children! Can a Lobster be an Archaeologist? Now available as a free colouring book!


Have you ever wondered…

How they film underwater movies?
Are lake monsters real?
Where we would live if there was no land left to build on?
and can a lobster really be an archaeologist?

All of these questions and more are answered in this unique collection of inspirational stories written by members and friends of the Society for Underwater Technology. The original book is aimed at 10-14 year olds, and hopes to spark their interest in the underwater world.

We have now rewritten a small selection our stories for a younger audience, aged 7+ with colouring pages enabling the readers to really engage with the stories and get creative.

The Society is passionate about nurturing the education of future generations, and is dedicated to encouraging young people to consider careers in the marine world. This colouring book is free for anyone to download and use as a fun learning resource.

The factual and fun stories have been written by friends and members of the Society, rewritten by SUT Publications Officer Emily Boddy. The chapters have been brought to life with quirky illustrations by artist Rachel Hathaway.

Download the colouring book
now for FREE!

You can buy ‘Can a Lobster be an Archaeologist?‘ here with all the original exciting and inspiring stories, or contact [email protected] for bookseller/educational discounts.

SUT CEO Newsletter December 2019

Dear members – I started drafting this newsletter from a conference centre in Hainan Province, China in late October, where I was honoured to be the second speaker in a celebration of 40 years of the Chinese Society of Oceanography, in front of hundreds of delegates. Why was the SUT invited (and our expenses covered by my hosts)? Because the audience wanted to know about innovation, advances in ocean technology, energy security, how China fits into the rapidly-evolving world of subsea technology – and the SUT is seen as an international, unbiased, high-quality provider of knowledge on a wide range of ocean technology subjects including the systems required for offshore energy production, fossil and renewable, about marine autonomous systems, seabed resources, the interface between academia & industry, and about the need for advances in the policy and legal aspects of offshore operations. We are rightly seen as first & foremost a Learned Society rather than a Trade Body, and as having a significant global presence.

SUT China branch students with Chair Professor Frank Lim

It was clear from the talk before mine that China worries about being reliant on overseas sources for hydrocarbons. They want to develop unconventional fuel resources such as gas hydrates, which are abundant within their exclusive economic zone, and to produce hydrogen and renewable energy on a vast scale. SUT’s branch in China, chaired by Professor Frank Lim, is seeing progress in making new connections across a broad cross-section of the Chinese marine technology community especially within the postgraduate students and early-career people there – and I expect that in future years the bulk of growth of the SUT will occur in Asia, especially as energy transition & marine robotics takes offshore industry into new directions.

In November the SUT were in China again as guests of Reed Exhibitions, with a leading role at Oceanology China in Shanghai, in particular to support the unmanned systems strand in the conference programme, which I chaired. It was good to see familiar faces from Western manufacturers and service companies, plus the keen new entrants into our sector from east Asia. The SUT also jointly hosted a ‘Happy Hour’ at the event with our friends from the Marine Technology Society, and we were honoured to be asked to present prizes to the young winners of school & college technology competitions.

Keeping with this international theme, in the same week as Oceanology China, the ADIPEC event was on in Abu Dhabi and for the first time the new SUT Middle East Branch had a stand, provided at no cost by the hosts. Branch Chair Adrian Phillips and his team of volunteers did a great job raising awareness of SUT, and I’m pleased to report that the Branch is growing well, and promises to be a major new presence in the region, reinforcing my belief that Asia will be core in our future growth. A couple of weeks beforehand Adrian had kindly presented a paper on developments in marine autonomous systems that I had submitted to IMarEST for their defence marine technology event in Oman. I was unable to attend as I had been asked to present a civilian technology foresight report to the European Marine Board at their Berlin conference, so Adrian was able to step in and ensure that SUT will be featured in the Oman Conference Proceedings and raise our profile in the region.

We were also invited to present work on advances in underwater technology to DNV-GL in Oslo in October, sharing the venue with the likes of Jimmy Wales the founder of Wikipedia, Hans Vestberg, the CEO of Verizon, & Erna Solberg, the Prime Minister of Norway – evidence that although the SUT isn’t a large Society, our reputation for excellence and as a source of expert knowledge is spreading, and that we are in demand from people who want to know more about what our sector is doing, and is capable of doing in the future to meet the challenges of sustainable, clean energy production, access to minerals, and access to marine food resources.

Now, I’m not an expert on all of these fields and can’t be on the road all the time, so as we enter 2020 I’ll be looking for additional volunteers who we can ask to speak of behalf of SUT at events such as the ones mentioned above – it will be good to have a roster of enthusiasts we can call upon to celebrate and share the advances our community is making in a wider range of fields, and enhances the value and reputation of SUT membership.

Branches and Committees

At the salvage & wreck removal workshop in Glasgow in October

Within the UK our Branches carried out a full programme of events, as did several of our Committees and Special Interest Groups. The International Salvage and Decommissioning group delivered a well-attended salvage and wreck removal workshop in Glasgow as part of the Marine Association of Science & Technology Scotland (MASTS) annual science meeting, OSIG hosted their annual Geoforum in Bristol, and the Education Committee delivered lectures in schools and colleges. Aberdeen Branch excelled as they so often do on a very well attended schools’ event at Aberdeen’s Music Hall in November, jointly hosted a ‘Future Subsea Digital Toolbox’ event with the Hydrographic Society in Scotland and IMCA, as well as their regular daytime and evening events including unexploded ordnance detection & disposal, & subsea power systems. Aberdeen also hosted the most Subsea Awareness Courses that we have been able to deliver for quite a few years, evidence of growing confidence and investment returning to North Sea operators.  Newcastle focussed on future offshore marine energy industries and marine plastics in their autumn schedule, and London & Southern England covered a wide range of subjects including John Englander on Sea Level Rise, Philomene Verlaan on Deep Sea Mining, and Chris Baldwin on the NATO submarine rescue service. There was a fun-filled quiz night held at the Ye Olde Watling on 19th November and the South West Chapter looked at ship-based robotics. The SUT Plus groups were also active, with an event on ‘subsea operations – diver or diverless?’, held at Aberdeen’s Maritime Museum on 21st November.

Robo-shark biomimetic AUV on display at Hainan meeting, late October.

Singapore held evening technical meetings and an evening social event, Perth delivered a multitude of daytime and evening events including their respected AUT Conference at the end of October and a number of social events including those for their young engineers and scientists group, ‘YES!’.

SUT in the US have delivered another full season of activities ranging from training events and technical evenings to their popular social gatherings and awards of student scholarships.

LSE branch pub quiz at Ye Olde Watling

In the last week of November our latest embryonic branch, St John’s Newfoundland held their first meeting, with a keynote from Professor Neil Bose of Memorial University, who also chairs the SUT Panel on Underwater Robotics.

Training, and Professional Accreditation

When I last wrote I said that we were working on introducing Professional Accreditation for SUT Members by licensing IMarEST’s Chartered Marine Technologist scheme, in a scheme that will be launched simultaneously by the Marine Technology Society. Most of the details are in place, and the scheme is ready to roll out, and on 23rd December we will formally issue our first batch of invitations to apply to become Chartered, with relevant documents such as handbooks and instructions to be placed on our website in the Members Area. I’ve asked for half a dozen volunteers to form the first cohort of SUT members to go through the accreditation system and if you’d like to be added to their number please contact me directly at [email protected] – the first few people will receive a discount on professional accreditation fees as we will of course be ‘learning the ropes’ as we work with them, and if the pilot is successful we will roll on professional registration on a larger scale during the second half of 2020, and eventually be able to offer Chartered Marine Engineer and Chartered Marine Scientist in addition to the initial Chartered Marine Technologist. We also have the option of launching sub-classifications such as CMarTech (ROV) or CMarTech (pipelines) etc. as the scheme develops.

Educational Support Fund

We awarded new scholarships to Andrew Robinson of the University of New England, USA, and to Alicia McDowall of the Scottish Association of Marine Science in Oban. Both were superb candidates, there being a very high standard of applicants. Alicia’s scholarship has, with the agreement of his family, been named in honour of our good friend and Council Member Chris Milner who passed away unexpectedly in the summer.

In future we hope to be able to expand the number of scholarships that SUT HQ is able to support, especially as some of branches – in particular the USA Branch – have a terrific record of student sponsorship. Alongside the publication of our Journal, our interaction with the next generation is key to maintaining our charitable status (& not for profit status in other jurisdictions) so maintaining sound scholarship programmes based on high quality students is a very important part of what the SUT exists to do.

SUT-MTS Exploratory Committee

As previously advised, SUT signed a memorandum of agreement with the Marine Technology Society earlier in 2019 and already this has born fruit, with a solid relationship being built on jointly developing the professional accreditation system with IMarEST, co-chairing of sessions in the Oceanology International Conference Programme and putting people in contact with each other. Following the SUT’s 24th October Council permission was given to our President Professor Ralph Rayner to attend the meeting of the MTS Board in the USA during the Oceans 19 Conference, and following from that we have now agreed to form a working group of senior members from the Council/Board of both societies to explore more options about how we gain better than the sum of our two parts by working more closely together. Where these discussions eventually lead will become clearer once each Society has a more complete understanding of one another’s strengths, weaknesses and aspirations – members will be kept fully informed on progress.

Here’s the joint letter drafted by the Presidents of SUT & MTS for circulation to all members:

Joint MTS & SUT Member Communication
Message from Professor Ralph Rayner, SUT President

(issued same date by MTS President Rick Spinrad to MTS members)

SUT Members

We are at an important inflection point in the world of marine science, engineering, and technology as there is more global attention than ever on a wide array of issues, including the Blue Economy and sustainable ocean development. Our members and our Society have an important role to play in the way the ocean is studied and used.

To that end, I want to let you know that the Society for Underwater Technology and the Marine Technology Society have formed an exploratory joint committee to investigate new partnership models between our two Societies that would benefit our members and the wider community.

Both Societies were founded in the mid-1960s and have roughly the same number of members who focus on a variety of marine technologies and aspects of ocean science and engineering. While SUT is based in London and has approximately half of the membership based in the UK, MTS is based in the US and has its largest membership in the United States. Both Societies have international Sections/Branches in areas that complement each other, only Houston having significant overlap. While we have different corporate models, the mission and objectives of our respective organizations are highly complementary.

Many of you have invested much in the Society over the years, and I want to assure you that our goal is to recognize the history, reputation, and work of both Societies as we explore future partnership models. It will be the work of the joint exploratory committee to consider all aspects with no foregone conclusions about the nature of the product or recommendations that this committee will produce.

We expect the committee to begin their deliberations and assessments early this winter and formulate their findings and recommendations over the next year.  The full membership of both societies will be afforded opportunities to engage and provide comment to the committee and the societies’ respective leadership bodies. You can expect regular updates about our progress.

The committee includes:

David Saul (SUT Exploratory Committee Co-Chair)

Mick Cook (SUT)

Dave Brookes (SUT)

Richard Crout (MTS Exploratory Committee Co-Chair)
Andrew Clark (MTS)

Mike Pinto (MTS)

In the next few months, the committee will work together to dig deep into the structures, programs, and finances of the two Societies. In the meantime, please direct your feedback to myself, Ralph Rayner [email protected] or MTS President, Rick Spinrad, [email protected] . Email us with any thoughts, concerns, suggestions, or questions you have. We value your input.

Annual General Meeting of SUT

On 16th December we’ll be holding our AGM at Trinity House once again, and I’m looking forward to meeting members, welcoming our new Members of Council and awarding certificates to our prize winners and new Fellows. We have an excellent talk lined up from our colleagues at the Nautical Archaeological Society, and it promises to be a fun, inspirational and educational evening for all.

In Memoriam

Sir Anthony Laughton FRS

We were sad that learn that our former SUT President, Sir Anthony Laughton FRS, had passed away at the end of September at the ripe old age of 92. I worked for him 1997-2002 when he was Steering Committee Chair of the pioneering NERC Autosub Science Missions programme, and on hearing of his ill health had written to Tony a few weeks before his death, thanking him for his service to SUT as well as my personal thanks for his mentorship and guidance.

Former SUT Chair & President Professor Gwyn Griffiths writes:

“From his earliest days at the National Institute of Oceanography in Wormley, which he joined in 1955, Tony Laughton had an affinity for technology. In the mid 1950s he devised a deep-sea camera, deployed on the end of a wire lowered from a ship, that, when a weight on a line touched the seafloor would trigger a flash, take the photograph and advance the 35mm film. Later versions, designed with Dickie Dobson, added a shutter for use in shallower water where there could be ambient light, and a photocell to detect whether there was sufficient light reflected for a decent photograph.

Tony’s science needed greater repeatability in depth soundings than provided by the mechanical governors in the echo-sounders of the time. He introduced crystal controlled timing, leading to the Precision Echo Sounder. Less well-known was his invention of a Continuous Profile Recorder, a small display of the full depth range to complement the 400 fathom window on the main display. This must have been a boon to heavy-eyed watchkeepers who might lose track of the “phase” – that is, the depth to add to the main display.

His instruments were used beyond science. For example, in 1963 (or 1964), he took a Precision Echo Sounder, deep-sea camera and corer to the Luzon Strait to survey a new telephone cable route for Cable and Wireless, finding hazards including high currents at the seabed and outcrops of sandstone.

His scientific observations were key in developing the understanding of plate tectonics, as his team discovered that the seabed rocks either side of the mid Atlantic ridge displayed different magnetic properties in a symetrical pattern, providing solid evidence of sea floor spreading.

He became Director of the Institute of Oceanographic Sciences Deacon Laboratory in 1978, a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1980 and was knighted for his services to marine science in 1987. Tony had a long involvement with SUT, serving as our President in 1996-7.

After his retirement he was succeeded as IOSDL Director by Colin Summerhayes, who also later served as SUT President.

When, in 1997, the Natural Environment Research Council sought a steering committee Chair for the Autosub Science Missions programme, Tony Laughton was an inspired choice. At a time when autonomous scientific submersibles might have turned out to be a mere technical curiosity, Tony’s appointment sent a clear and confident message that excellent science was to be the principle outcome. And as then President of the Society for Underwater Technology he epitomised the productive bridging of marine technology and science.

Under his leadership the steering committee proposed a portfolio of projects that took Autosub from the North Sea to the Antarctic. The science outcomes from a community of researchers with the ideas to exploit Autosub made possible today’s NERC fleet of some 40 autonomous vehicles”

Sir Anthony’s legacy lives on in the marine robotics community, the geophysics community and even on charts of the Atlantic Ocean, where numerous features were named by Tony and his colleagues in an era where a certain light-heartedness was still permitted alongside the serious scientific work – you may find Atlantic seabed features named after favourite brands of biscuits if you look carefully.

Another good friend of SUT and long-serving Member and Fellow who passed away in the last few weeks was John Lawson, who worked for Chevron in Aberdeen. John made a major contribution to SUT over the years, most recently through his support of our Subsea Awareness Course. He was even more active in our sister Learned Society the IMarEST, chairing their membership committee and subjecting many young engineers to their professional reviews. He was a keen supporter of SUT becoming a body licensed by IMarEST to issue professional recognition, and his unexpected passing leaves another gap in our community that will take time to fill.

I’ll end this newsletter with a heartfelt Thank You to all of our staff and the volunteers who enable SUT to hold events,  inspire the next generation, develop new branches and carry out the numerous duties that are essential to the successful running of an international marine science & technology Learned Society. We couldn’t do our work without you, and my job would be impossible.

For those of you in the northern hemisphere, wrap up warm for the winter months, for those in the south enjoy your summer. For those who celebrate Christmas, have a wonderful festive season, and I look forward to working with you all again in 2020.

Steve Hall


The Society of Underwater Technology (SUT) networks Industry Stalwarts with emerging talent to bridge skills shortfall

We promised at the beginning of the down turn that we would learn the lessons of the past and not repeat the same mistakes. We said out loud that we would not revisit the skills boom and bust cycles of skills that lag the economic cycles of the oil and gas industry. Yet there is little doubt that with the supply chain cut to the bone with the mass layoffs  100s of years of experience being lost we are again searching for the skills required to sustain our subsea industry as we go forward into to a new positive era. The strain is already apparent in tendering and engineering the future prospects, executing the work safely and efficiently is yet to come.  We do not have the resources.

The Society of Underwater Technology (SUT) are having an informal get together of SUT members old and new on Thursday June 13th 2019 at 6pm in Carmelite Hotel in Aberdeen. The purpose to bring together grey hair with youthful enthusiasm in a bid to create relationships for effective knowledge transfer and improved communication across organisations. Hosted by the SUT Aberdeen Branch Committee, who in their own right have their fair share of industry experience, alongside fellow SUT members they seek to network with emerging talent who will steer the industry in the future.  The outcome of the event is unpredictable, but the hope is that special interest groups, communities of expertise, mentorships may be established; All such and any such means and mechanisms that promote knowledge transfer is the ambition.  It has the makings of the new cooperative subsea community that is beyond the limitations of silos of organisational know how, but is more supportive of a cohesive industry that serves to provide the greatest access to the experience and know how.

All are welcome who have the simple desire to make the best of the fantastic industry that we have. SUT members are encouraged to bring with them a someone whom they would consider as being a rising star.

For More information and to register please click here

December 2018 Newsletter from SUT Chief Executive Steve Hall

Dear members and friends of SUT – it’s been a very busy last six months for me and the Headquarters team as we work hard to raise SUT’s profile within the broad underwater technology sector. I’ve spent a lot of time on the road meeting members, promoting our Society with decision makers in government and international bodies (we’re an Observer Member of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, and members of the UK government’s Marine Science Coordination Committee marine industries liaison group, the Underwater Sound Forum and Parliamentary & Science Committee for starters), interacting with academia and industry at conferences & trade shows, joining into the work of our committees and winning new friends and contacts in the sectors where we need to expand our activities to meet the challenges of a changing industry, and help provide solutions to new societal needs.

EMSEA 2018

Highlights have included presenting on how advanced marine autonomous systems can benefit the future deep-sea mining industry at the Underwater Mining Conference in Bergen in September, Chairing the Marine Autonomous Systems and Sensors workshops at Oceanology China in Qingdao, providing keynote speeches at the joint China-Brazil SUT technology conference in Beijing, and another at the European Marine Science Educator’s Association conference in Newcastle. At the start of December I was invited to present the prestigious Newth Lecture at the Scottish Association for Marine Science in Oban – an honour for me, and to SUT, reflecting that we are taken seriously as experts in underwater technology and especially in how the technology (and SUT!) is going to evolve to help humanity meet the immense challenges that lie ahead – the transition to low-carbon societies, the replacement of internal combustion engines with electric and hydrogen vehicles, the advent of advanced robotic military systems in the underwater arena, sustainable offshore aquaculture, renewable energy, carbon capture & storage, new sensors such as eDNA, and drugs & medicines from the sea – SUT has something to say in all of these fields, and we are already adapting with new Special Interest Groups being formed. We’ll be launching a new Sensors and Instrumentation Group, and a reformed Ocean Resources Group in early 2019, and are quietly building other new links based on our accumulated knowledge of marine autonomous systems.

Steve at the conference in Bergen with BRIDGES

In addition to the conferences and workshops mentioned above, I represented SUT at many other events including the Renewables UK Manchester conference, a Defence sector event in Glasgow, outreach to the next generation at the Young Marine Biologists Summit in London, and a number of talks at schools and colleges including a splendid opportunity at Dulwich College where I was able to see Shackleton’s legendary open boat the ‘James Caird’ afterwards. Members of SUT’s Education and Training Committee are active supporters of marine education alliances in Europe, North America and via UNESCO, helping to satisfy our need to be active as educators, to be good global citizens, and ensure the continuation of our charitable status.

Steve with Adrian Phillips

I’m working with our International Committee, Council and overseas members to see where SUT might grow in the future. Former SUT Council Member Adrian Phillips has done a sterling piece of work to drive up interest in getting SUT off the ground in the Middle East – a region where, surprisingly, we’ve never had a Branch – and at the ADIPEC meeting in the UAE in November we were delighted to see a strong attendance of potential local members, so plans are moving fast now to get SUT Middle East up and running – contact Adrian at [email protected] if you would like to be part of it. Atlantic Canada is another area showing strong interest in hosting a Branch so I’ve met with Paul Ryan and Neil Bose from Memorial University, Newfoundland while they were visiting Europe to discuss the details, as well as talking to senior staff at organisations and companies based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. If it all comes together, I’m hoping to launch an Atlantic Canada Branch of SUT in Q2 2019. We’re also seeing interest from Egypt and Portugal for development further down the line, so watch this space. Throughout the second half of 2018 the SUT West Africa branch has been busy building up numbers and activities under the oversight of our International Committee and HQ staff, with a view to resuming a full range of Branch activities.

Any largely voluntary Society is only able to function through the efforts and goodwill of those who take part in the life of our global network of Branches & student chapters, and without them we would soon cease to exist. We’ve been through a period of financial hardship over the last few years, and had to trim our sails accordingly, but we are gradually emerging into sunnier times. People are starting to attend our subsea awareness courses again across the world, and as old friends retire from industry a new generation of bright, enthusiastic young women and men are taking up the challenge of keeping SUT healthy and relevant.

Our South-West England chapter

In the UK the South-West chapter of the London & Southern England branch is growing nicely, bringing new people and areas of interest to SUT from the lively cluster of science, technology and innovation centres in the Bristol-Exeter-Plymouth-Falmouth area. Their London-based colleagues are reaching out into the huge potential membership in the City who work in marine technology insurance, law and policy as well as traditional engineering and science areas, and the Branch held an excellent summer social evening on board the HQS Wellington – evidence that SUT membership is about having some fun as well as serious knowledge exchange and networking. A major challenge faced by LSE Branch is proving to be finding affordable venues for evening meetings in London – if any members have access to suitable facilities we’d very much like to hear from them, I’d far rather be using SUT funds for education, outreach and scholarships than paying high room charges for London venues. The London branch and HQ are also working with the organisers of MCE Deepwater Development to help host the 2019 meeting which takes place in London – see https://mcedd.com for more.

Steve in Beijing

In the United States the Houston Branch has rebranded as SUT-US, has opened new special interest groups, and is reaching out to the West Coast, playing a significant part in working with our good friends at Reed Exhibitions to help develop the conference session at Oceanology Americas San Diego next February (see www.oceanologyinternationalamericas.com) and they’ve also been busy planting a daughter branch in Merida, Mexico. Our US branch provide an excellent scholarship scheme too, raising considerable funds to help support students who will one day enter our industry. I was present for the awards of scholarships and SUT Fellowships in Houston in October, where I also had the chance to meet the excellent student Chapters at Rice, Houston and Texas A&M universities and meet Dr Fathi Ghorbel, chair of the Robotics & Automation Committee at Rice.

Bergen are becoming active again after a long period of quiescence, Singapore has new committee members ready to reach out to the region, Kuala Lumpur are holding a variety of events, and under Professor Frank Lim’s leadership the China Branch promises great things – I wouldn’t be surprised if in 10 years time they are the largest and most active part of SUT, though it does require some hard work over the next couple of years. Perth continue to inspire with their well-run branch, active schedule of activities, and busy group of early-career members. North of England have an enthusiastic, young member base that includes many from the renewables and mining sectors, and Aberdeen provide the solid core of UK activity through their hardworking committee and local SUT staff members. Our Rio branch needs some help as numbers have fallen off sharply there in recent years, but having met with their leadership at the SUT Joint China-Brazil workshop on Underwater Technology I’m confident that Rio will rise back up the rankings as Brazil emerges from recession.

Students at the ADIPEC meeting in the UAE

Our student members and early career professionals are the future of the Society and I’m pleased to see that the Student Chapters in the USA, and younger member groups ‘SUT Plus’ in the UK and ‘YES’ (Young Engineers and Scientists) in Australia are doing well. It’s an area we still need to develop across some parts of our international network, as not all of our Branches get fully involved with education, outreach and training yet. Whilst on the subject of training, we are actively exploring how to adapt our existing courses to better meet the needs of the renewables, mining and defence sectors, and in a major new chapter for SUT we are in detailed discussion with a potential provider about opening up access to global Professional Registration for those Members who require such accreditation – more from me on that in the New Year.

We are also considering launching a ‘patrons’ scheme in the New Year, modelled on those used by similar societies around the world – contact me directly if you would like to know more.

SUT is not a trade body, we are above all other things a marine Learned Society that exists to promote marine science and technology to the next generation, to the people already working in our sector, and to decision makers. We disseminate the things our members have learned, and the skills they have developed, through our network of meetings, conferences, other events and of course our peer-reviewed journal ‘Underwater Technology’. I’m told that the number of quality manuscripts submitted for review & publication is falling, so I would like to issue a request to our members and colleagues to consider sharing new knowledge through our journal wherever possible. It raises our profile, helps us deliver knowledge to Society at large, and as the United Nations community enters their Decade for Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (see https://en.unesco.org/ocean-decade) it helps place SUT at the heart of global ocean knowledge delivery. Our journal editor will be delighted to receive your submissions – see www.sut.org/publications/underwater-technology/ for more.

Steve presenting at the Mining conference in Bergen

As most of you will know we made a small surplus at the close of our last financial year, the first in a while, but we are still some way from being as financially healthy as we used to be. We need many more members, individual and corporate, and to continue to keep our costs as low as possible. That will mean that increasingly our publications will be electronic rather than printed, and we will be encouraging our committees and working groups to meet remotely where possible. My thanks to our staff who do an incredible job running a society with members in over 40 countries at such a low cost – it’s no small achievement. Thanks too to our Council and Committee Members, who enable SUT to function effectively by their volunteer effort.

I’d like to add a special Thank You to Peter Metcalf, who has just stood down as Chair of SUT Council – he’s helped steer us through difficult times and hard decisions. He was quite rightly awarded our Honorary Fellowship at the AGM on 3rd December, and I wish him well in his busy ‘retired’ life where Peter continues to serve as a School Governor and in other roles that will keep him fully occupied. Peter’s successor as Chair is David Saul, who I’m looking forward to working with as we take SUT forward in a complex, ever-changing world.

Finally may I take the opportunity to wish all of our Members, Fellows, friends and partners a blessed Christmas festival season, be that in the sunshine of Perth, or the snows of Norway and I very much look forward to working with you all in the New Year. I won’t get everything right, we have limited resources of time and finance, but SUT has access to boundless energy, enthusiasm and hard-won knowledge, which we will be able to harness to make the world – especially the global ocean – a better place.

Steve Hall December 2018

[email protected]



21st Century Subsea Data Gathering

There’s a perception that not enough use is made of the data collected as part of offshore oil and gas operators’ subsea integrity management programs. What is collected is also limited in scope and quality. But, that could all be set to change. Data collection and use – from measurement and imaging tools, to the equipment used to carry them and the systems used to process the data collected – is entering a new era.

These issues were central to the joint Society of Underwater Technology, International Marine Contractors Association and The Hydrographic Society of Scotland seminar, The Leading Edge of Value-Based Subsea Inspection, held in Aberdeen late 2017.

It’s good timing. There’s a growing need for efficient inspection systems, to help operators understand the condition of their subsea infrastructure and therefore efficiently maintain it.

In the UK North Sea alone, for example, BP has 4500km of pipeline, 80 riser systems, 270 subsea trees, 92 manifolds, and a plethora of umbilicals, “which we need to understand,” Scott Higgins, BP, told the joint seminar. Inspections have been done the same way for 30 years, but, this is changing, he says, in terms of the inspection technology used, what information is gathered and when.

There’s an increasing focus on having an integrated planning process for inspections, he says, bringing together various departments and specialists, from subject matter experts and surveyors to environmental, riser and pipeline people, as well as structure and hulls people, etc., all working together to see what information is needed and when.

“This is about increasing the efficiency of data collection,” Higgins says. “Why we want it, what we need it for. Historically, we relied on a good deal of information from Work Class remote operated vehicles (ROVs). How many years of video we have would scare you. But, what do we actually need? What sensors do we want? What vehicles? Can we use integrated laser/imaging, field gradient cathodic protection inspection systems, alternative fast ROVs or autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV)?”

According to Global Marine Technology Trends 2030, a report by Lloyds and Qinietiq, by 2020, more of this work will be using unmanned platforms, including those deployed from shore, as well as resident vehicles, with more focus on what is data needed, faster interpretation and machine learning, says Scott. Indeed, just recently, Saudi Aramco announced a new AUV designed for offshore platform debris, pipeline and other surveys, which would be deployed from shore.

A range of other solutions were also discussed at the joint seminar. A large focus was on data gathering tools and live data processing.


Subsea laser scanning and photogrammetry techniques have been making major in-roads in the industry, with claims such techniques can offer high levels of measurement accuracy. The attraction of some of these systems is that they’re being offered without having to baseline surveys – i.e. put in markers or a system of beacons, to establish measurement reference points.

Within a short period of time, Cathx has become a household name in subsea imaging. The firm was founded by Adrian Boyle, its CEO, in 2009. It uses photogrammetry, but combines stills images with laser lines and is now developing machine vision systems to automate analysis of the collected data, e.g. automated eventing and measurement.

The firm built its own camera which takes 2 millisecond exposure images (i.e. 30 HD stills a second) in conjunction with pulsed lighting, so there are no blurs (i.e. from moving particles in water) on images and surveys can be done faster (i.e. instead of an ROV surveying a pipeline at 0.5knots it can be done at 5knots, with the ability to extract HD stills with 0.8-1.5mm resolution), even at <5m from the pipeline, says Boyle. The images are then built into 2D mosaics.

Cathx then uses other data (co-registering) to build and add accuracy to its models – i.e. laser line data, from which point clouds can be built, and time-stamp data. Because the position of the object is known relative to the ROV, navigation correction can be calculated.

An AUV data acquisition package would comprise strobe lights, UHD and HD high resolution cameras, taking pictures at seven frames per second for UHD and up to 30 for HD, with the laser and lighting synchronized, allowing for 4knot co-registered data acquisition speed, says Boyle. Using dual cameras, imaging the same scene, can further allow post-acquisition calibration for environmental factors (salinity etc.).

Dual source data acquisition is the basis for automation, but it requires real-time data integrity checks, and 3D laser data plus co-registered image data, says Boyle.

In 2018, the firm is going to be developing automated eventing using these technologies. This will allow large volumes of data to be reduced to events, quickly. This will, through range-based statistical analysis of 3D laser data, produce images and 3D data that can be reviewed efficiently because it’s based on the laser data (not memory-heavy photographic files). Once an event is picked up in the laser data, the corresponding photographic image can be found easily, because the data is co-registered using the time stamps.

Boyle says cross sectional geometrical analysis, freespans and circularity will be possible with 3D machine vision techniques, and are being tested in Q1 this year. This will include building a library of types of event that should be automatically detected, which will be combined to enable machine learning.


Comex presented its ORUS 3D system. It’s a subsea optical system for measuring and then creating high-resolution 3D models of subsea structures, without the need for an inertial navigation system. Bertrand Chemisky, Director of Innovation at Comex, says the system uses triangulation to create a 3D reconstruction.

The system comprises an integrated beam of tri-focal sensors, with four wide beam LED flash units, plus a data acquisition and processing unit, which fits on to an ROV for free-flying data acquisition and initial processing. Scanning works at a >40cm from structures, with the best resolution reconstruction from 1-2m from the object, says Chemisky. Thousands of images are taken, using strobe flashes, resulting in several millions of points in a square meter, the firm says.

The data goes through an initial processing real-time on the ROV to assess location and quality, before on site (on-board the support vessel) processing, to further quality check the data collected and create an initial scaled 3D model to cm accuracy. Final processing of the data, which collected as point cloud data, will then be carried out to reconstruct the site or object in a 3D model to mm accuracy.

Comex claims up to sub millimetric precision, with 0.1mm resolution images, depending on the survey, i.e. for a spool metrology survey, accuracy will drop over longer distances. Still, Chemisky says over 64m, with seven hours processing, just 2.4cm deviation was seen. For a 27m long survey, for a jumper metrology, survey data was processed over five hours to 1.8cm accuracy. An anchor inspection off Marseille, France, took 20 minutes processing to gain millimeter accuracy, thanks to being close to the chain.

Further algorithm optimization is ongoing, to improve reliability and validate repeatability, says Chemisky. The system is going through qualification with Bureau Veritas.


A small but fast-growing firm in subsea data collection space is ASV Global. It had built 95, up to 13m-long autonomous surface vehicles (ASVs), as at early November 2017.

ASV has been working on the Autonomous Surface and Sub-Surface Survey System (ASSS) project, in which long endurance ASVs provide locational and communication and control support for a side scan sonar survey AUV (in trials, the National Oceanography Centre’s Autosub long range AUV has been used), via optical communications systems, with both able to be deployed from shore.

As an extension to this project, the firm is also working on a concept for an Autonomous Pipeline Survey system, which would use the technology developed in the ASSSS program used for pipeline surveys, completely removing the need for manned ships to be involved in pipeline survey. But, they want to take this a step further and instead of just gathering side scan sonar data, create a system that could offer automated eventing, i.e. when it spots a fault or specific target, it sends an alert, real-time, which can then be acted on – instead of having to have someone assess the survey data. ASV is looking to set out a road map for what needs to be done to make this happen the gauge operator interest.

ASV is also involved in the ARISE (Autonomous Robotic intervention System for Extreme Environments) project, which is looking to put a remote operated work class ROV on an unmanned vessel. “To put an ROV in the water still needs a big ship. How do we take that from being on a big ship to a little boat with new people on board?” says Cowles. A number of tests have been done and it’s no easy task, he says. So, ASV is starting small, adding an observation class ROV to a C-Worker 7 (a 7m-long unmanned vessel). It will use it to trail things like inspecting a mooring chain, testing latency, communications and autonomy. “There are challenges around communication, latency, bandwidth, how to control both vehicles together, stopping the tether getting caught in a prop,” says Cowles. “The goal is to build a 12m boat with a work class ROV on board. That reality is still a couple of years away.”

More to come

This is an emerging field. It’s giving the industry tools that it could only have dreamed of in the 1970s, when photos were taken by divers on film and had to be developed on board. “Now photogrammetry can be done on the fly,” says Peter Blake, subsea systems manager, Chevron Energy Technology, at the

event. In the past, the industry has been good at gathering data but not so much gaining information, he says. The tools are being developed to change that.


Elaine Maslin




The SUT is moving!

SUT is moving to a new London HQ on 1st August so please accept our apologies for any delays in responding to calls and emails while we pack, move and unpack the office. Steve Hall will have mobile access to emails and can be contacted on 07947 911992. Our new address will be SUT, Unit LG7, Quality Court, off Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1HR – we anticipate having service back to normal by Wednesday 2nd August.


Aberdeen SUT+ Update September 2015

The Aberdeen Branch SUT+ group has continued provide some fantastic events throughout 2015.

In May, the group visited the KCA Deutag drilling simulator (DART) at the Robert Gordon University.

The DART facility at RGU utilises a state-of-the-art drilling simulator incorporating cyber chairs, touch screens, a ‘doghouse’ environment, & a cinema style projection of an offshore drilling facility.  It is used to train & access drill crews, specialising recently in scenario, situational, & behavioural aspects of well control situations. KCA Deutag Group Head of Operation, Geoff Monson, gave the group an introduction to the world of drilling on the night.

The group were also lucky to have the chance to undertake a taster workshop on Project Management, delivered by Jacqui Smith of Pro-fection. This proved to be a very useful and worthwhile session giving attendees a fast-track overview of the standard APMP qualification course.

In June, Subsea 7 opened the doors to their north sea spoolbase in Leith, Edinburgh, where attendees were given a tour of the pipeline fabrication process – in action!

Activity didn’t stop over the usual SUT summer break. In July, SUT+ welcomed Wood Group Chief Executive, Bob Keiller, to give an informal talk at the inaugural “An Evening with…” event. This will be followed up with presentations from more industry leaders very soon.

This was followed up by two site visits to Wild Well Control at their Smith Quay, Peterhead, to see their capping stack equipment, and to Wartsila to see their workshop and manufacturing facilities.

In August, a second visit to the National Hyperbaic Centre was provided where attendees learned about diving, hyperbaric medicine and hyperbaric testing of subsea equipment. The group will continue to provide visits to the NHC as they are proving to be very popular.

Thanks go to KCA Deutag, Pro-fection Training, Subsea 7, Wood Group, Wild Well Control and the National Hyperbaric Centre.

For further information on events and to sign up to the mailing list, please visit www.sutaberdeen.org/sutplus/