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Feature Story AUTONOMOUS INSPECTION SYSTEM A New Reality to Integrity Management Inspections Offering a faster, safer, economical, and more efficient alterna-tive to traditional subsea inspections, Lockheed Martin’s Marlin® Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) is changing the oil and gas industry’s expectations for operational performance and post-inspection presentation of collected data 3D models. 3D geo-referenced model and profile view MARLIN ® By: Lou Dennis, Lockheed Martin Marlin System Completed First Commercial Autonomous Subsea Infrastructure Inspections in Gulf of Mexico Proven Advanced Technology, Available Today The Marlin® structural inspection system recently complet-ed the first commercial autonomous offshore structural and bot-tom site survey inspections in the Gulf of Mexico. The AUV successfully inspected 11 fixed platforms and their surrounding seabed along with three partially decommissioned work sites actively undergoing the final stages of clearance activities. Operating from a small utili-ty-class vessel, the 10-ft unmanned submersible logged more than 62 hrs of submerged operations over the 2-week sur-vey period, covering 72 mi in waters up to 125-ft deep. While at sea, the Marlin® generated and delivered real-time, 3D geo-referenced models of the plat-forms and the surrounding seabed areas, providing the Client with an accurate, full 3D model of structure view of each scene. This output ON&T April 2013 10 Volume 19 • Issue 3
Marlin® Autonomous Inspection System
Marlin System Completed First Commercial Autonomous Subsea Infrastructure Inspections in Gulf of Mexico<br /> <br /> A New Reality to Integrity Management Inspections <br /> <br /> Offering a faster, safer, economical, and more efficient alternative to traditional subsea inspections, Lockheed Martin’s Marlin® Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) is changing the oil and gas industry’s expectations for operational performance and post- inspection presentation of collected data 3D models.<br /> <br /> Proven Advanced Technology, Available Today<br /> <br /> The Marlin® structural inspection system recently completed the first commercial autonomous offshore structural and bottom site survey inspections in the Gulf of Mexico. The AUV successfully inspected 11 fixed platforms and their surrounding seabed along with three partially decommissioned work sites actively undergoing the final stages of clearance activities.<br /> <br /> Operating from a small utility class vessel, the 10-ft unmanned submersible logged more than 62 hrs of submerged operations over the 2-week survey period, covering 72 mi in waters up to 125-ft deep. While at sea, the Marlin® generated and delivered real-time, 3D georeferenced models of the plat forms and the surrounding seabed areas, providing the Client with an accurate, full view of each scene. This output Allowed the operating company to make accurate operating plans for an upcoming subsea recovery operation within days of deploying the salvage vessel.<br /> <br /> The Marlin® survey model essentially cre- ates a window below the surface of the water that allows operators to identify, localize, mea- sure, and catalog debris in a single scene point of view. The data collected by the Marlin® sur- veys is used to verify, validate, and, in many cases, update and refresh as-built documentation of operating facilities. The success of AUV inspections in the Gulf of Mexico validates the ability of autonomous inspections by AUVs to provide faster, smarter, and more frequent subsea inspec- tions for the oil and gas industry.<br /> <br /> How Marlin® AUV Works <br /> <br /> Marlin® is equipped with the appropriate sensors and robust autonomy to conduct structural surveys, pipeline inspections, bot- tom debris surveys, and subsea facility inspections. Unhindered by a surface vessel with attached umbilical and a large footprint of shipboard equipment, the Marlin® AUV can be employed across large areas and remain submerged for multiple shifts. Operators on the surface are monitoring the range and bearing and vehicle health and status along with mission progress, which greatly reduces crew tasking and results in fewer personnel at sea.<br /> <br /> Once the support vessel is on station, the Marlin® vehicle is launched and begins its prprogrammed mission. During its first mission around a platform, the Marlin® builds a 3D model of the subsea structure constructed from 3D sonar data. This 3D constructed model becomes a reference for navigating using its feature-based navigation capability that allows the AUV to execute an optimized inspection route to maximize sensor coverage and calculate the most efficient survey plan. The vehicle is also equipped with obstacle detection and avoidance capability, which allows the vehicle to automatically and safely classify the obstacles and avoid any unforeseen obstruction or hazards detected. Once the obstacle type and location is determined, the Marlin® will modify its route plan to avoid the obstacle and then plan an alternate route to reacquire the structure and resume the survey inspection and complete its mission.<br /> <br /> Using the real-time, georeferenced 3D sonar data and precise feature-based navigation allows for autonomous change detection against the benchmarked reference condition, an extremely beneficial time-saving feature compared to the visual examination currently required by inspection engineers.<br /> <br /> The Marlin® patent-pending autonomous underwater homing capture and lift feature provides a robust and simple approach to vehicle recovery. Upon mission completion, the vehicle autonomously returns to a predetermined waypoint awaiting acoustic command to rendezvous with the ship. The opera- tors initiate an auto-homing sequence that results in the vehicle homing to the lift line where it will automatically latch and indicate that it is ready for recovery. Once on board, the vehicle is stowed in its shipboard cradle and readied for the next mission.<br /> <br /> Today, the Marlin® AUV system has validated advances in autonomy that enable a gamechanging subsea facility inspection capability for oil and gas operating companies. By using advanced autonomy, true 3D sonar, and, in the future, underwater 3D laser imaging sensors, inspections are no longer limited by water turbidity or motion of the sensing platform. The 3D models generated in situ offer field operators with unprecedented ability to safely and accurately monitor the integrity of their subsea facilities with lower costs, fewer people at sea, and greatly reduced operational risk.<br /> <br /> Marlin® AUV System Advantages<br /> <br /> • Provides safer, faster, more economical, and effective subsea inspection process com- pared to using divers and tethered remotely operated vehicles.<br /> <br /> • Completes inspections in hours and generates high-quality data sets that are georeferenced and with significant accuracy in real-time.<br /> <br /> • 3D models are readily exportable to engineering programs for metrology, baseline surveys, and integrity analysis management.<br /> <br /> • Allows for a smaller vessel size and crew requirements and enables rapid equipment mobilization for emergency response.<br /> <br /> • Inspection operations are not constrained by visibility conditions and provide automated fault detection and change management reporting capability during the operation.<br /> <br /> • Post-hurricane inspections can be completed faster with a more detailed status reporting delivered, allowing offshore facilities to return to production activities more quickly.<br /> <br /> For additional information, visit www.lockheedmartin.com/us/product/marlin.html.