Remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) are now almost commonplace in the offshore industry This is largely because ROV technology has been developed to such an extent that vehicles can effectively undertake a wide range of underwater tasks and, in many instances, provide an acceptable alternative to divers.
It is perhaps strange that, given the versatility and worldwide pre-eminence of ROVs, there are few rules and regulations specifically governing their operation Having said this, it is true that many ROV activities are influenced or indeed controlled by other general safeguards designed to cover a wide variety of offshore systems and equipment In addition, it must also be said that virtually all ROV contractors have developed comprehensive operating practices and standards (usually documented in a Company operations manual) which allow the safe operation of their ROV systems Likewise, many operators have generated internal guidelines covering the operation of ROVs However, in spite of all this documentation, the industry still lacks a set of rules or guidelines which contractors and clients alike can refer to in the clear knowledge that the contents of such a document can be generally regarded as the ‘industry standard’.
This, therefore, is essentially the justification for roducing a Code of Practice to cover the safe and efficient operation of remotely, operated vehicles
Briefly, the Code of Practice document was conceived and compiled as described Below
A working group was formed from the AODC ROV and Submersibles Committee to address the requirement for a Code of Practice for The Safe and Efficient Operation of ROVs
The main objective in producing the Code of Practice was to provide both clients and contractors with a document offering recommendations and advice for improving safety and efficiency during ROV operations Acknowledgement of the Code does not, however, negate the need for ROV operators to maintain their own operations manuals and procedures.
The document briefly describes various types of ROV, tools commonly used, tasks performed, support locations and methods of operation, providing an overview of the inter-relationship of a variety of equipment and work tasks which may be combined on a project Recommendations are made in areas where both commercial considerations and safety implications must be satisfactorily balanced out, particularly stressing the importance of providing sufficient qualified personnel during all aspects of an operation.
It is hoped that the Code can address future changes in operating practices, but it is recognized that the document will require updating from time to time The main body of the document is described as follows.
For the purpose of the document, ROV types are grouped into five main classifications, as follows
Class I Pure observation
Class II Observation with payload option
Class III Work-class vehicles
Class IV Towed or bottom-crawling vehicles
Class V Prototype or development vehicles
Examples of each classification are provided within the document