CEO Steve Hall Update August 2020

I would first like to thank everyone among our individual and corporate membership who has already renewed their membership for 2020-21 – it’s heartening that even in these difficult times, we are seeing a high rate of renewal which will enable us to carry on the life of SUT, support student scholarships and continue the work of our committees and special interest groups. If you’ve not yet renewed, please consider doing so – I believe we offer excellent value for money and there are affordable direct debit options for those who prefer not to pay in a single lump. Note also we have a ‘hardship scheme’ to offer free membership to our supporters not in a position to pay this year due to redundancy or lack of contract work – contact me or Jane Hinton directly if this can be of benefit to you.
For those members who have been able to take the extra step of becoming ‘Patron’ supporters I extend an additional level of thanks, as the funding you provide makes a real difference in what our Society can set out to do.

Coronavirus continues to impact the Society all across the world, with the majority of Branches still not able to hold face to face meetings, events and training courses. This has encouraged us to move quickly in developing online means to stay in touch with and inform our members, and we’ve seen a healthy level of support for our online webinars and particular the weekly Underwater Technology Podcast, which already has some 3500 downloads and rising steadily. Volunteers for interview are always required so I can keep up the weekly schedule – if you are working in any area of SUT interest (or likely future interest), message me and we can arrange an online interview.
Last week’s podcast was a fascinating discussion with aquanaut Dr Jon Copley, one of the relatively few humans who has been fortunate to dive to the deep ocean trenches and mid-ocean ridges in human-occupied vehicles, Jon is a former SUT scholarship student who has made significant discoveries about deep ocean ecosystems. As well as talking with Jon about the diving and his use of ROVs and AUVs he makes some interesting observations about how we might be able to mine deep sea resources in future, given appropriate safeguards for the environment.
This week’s interview is one of those ‘future technology’ ones – I interview the CEO of a San Diego startup called ‘Blue Nalu’ who are hoping to be one of the first to bring cellular aquaculture marine food to market – in other words real fish meat, but grown from cells. It’s a technology that could change how the world sources marine protein, and also has implications to our members interested in offshore aquaculture (most farmed fin-fish are carnivorous) – another area of underwater technology that will grow in future years.
Listen to or download the podcast from or your favourite podcast provider.

Every two weeks we offer an online webinar, volunteers for presenting that are always wanted too. Last week SUT Council Member and Houston-based Fellow Steve Johnson spoke on gas prospects in the Eastern Mediterranean, next week Professor Frank Lim, also a Council Member and Chair of our Beijing Branch, will speak on ‘Deepsea Mining: An engineering perspective’ – register free via the SUT Events web page. In most instances we place the seminars online afterwards on the SUT Media You Tube channel, except where the speaker might not be able to share their presentation due to commercial concerns.
SUT also offer the option for short ‘gadgets and widgets’ videos to be uploaded to our social media – an excellent opportunity for corporate members with a service or product they would like to highlight to our members. If you’re based in Aberdeen please speak to Jim Mann, or you can contact me directly.
Online training – we are almost ready to begin to offer refreshed online versions of SUT’s highly regarded Subsea Awareness Courses, with options for the traditional site visits to be offered later, as soon as access to the facilities is available. More on this in coming weeks. Our members have also been working on new versions of the course aimed at offshore wind & other renewables; and to the legal, policy and financial community in the City of London and other centres of activity.

SUT contributes of course to pushing the boundaries of underwater technology worldwide, and encourages knowledge exchange, which is still very active in lockdown. Last week I spoke online as a keynote speaker at the World Marine Technology Conference in Qingdao, China, highlighting the new offshore renewable technologies that are becoming available including floating wind, floating solar, and very soon a new offshore hydrogen industry. It was good to see SUT have such a high profile at the conference, with me featured as the second speaker after an esteemed member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Closer to home, I represent SUT along with Moya Crawford on the advisory board of the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology Scotland, who this year will hold their annual science meeting online. If you’d like to submit a paper the deadline is 21st August, see – & note that our Salvage & decommissioning committee co-hosts a workshop during the science meeting.

As we begin to move out of the northern summer and southern winter, into the second half of the year it’s worth giving early notice that my colleague Emily will start to prepare this year’s Annual Report, and will be writing to committee & branch chairs asking for their input. We’ll also be asking members who might be interested in being elected to SUT Council to step forward – it’s a time of great change in SUT and other Societies as we adapt to post-covid working, and respond to the challenges of Energy Transition and the development of a whole new generation of offshore underwater technology. It’s a great time to be a member of our Society, and once again, I thank you all for your help, support and also your kindness to our staff & the volunteers who have kept SUT running while coronavirus has brought so much chaos to the world.
Stay safe, stay healthy.
Steve Hall
[email protected] 17th August 2020