Autonomous control of subsea installations is an ideal which has received a lot of attention but which so far remains an elusive goal, while the ubiquitous umbilical stoically continues to be the lifeline to subsea control.

This paper is set out in debate format and traces the advances in subsea control, using the multiplex system as the base case, so that the state of the art may be accurately represented.

Set against this, the paper will appraise recently proposed innovations in subsea power sources and telemetry which could eliminate the umbilical, seen by some as a costly and vulnerable encumbrance.

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