ROV Inspections for the Department of Defence

Remote Imaging solutions (RIS) recently conducted subsea work for Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG) at HMAS Stirling in Western Australia by utilising ROVs for an in-water hull survey on HMAS Ballarat in order to assess the amount of marine bio fouling on the ship’s hull.

HMAS Ballarat (FFH 155) is an Anzac-class frigate of the Royal Australian Navy. The frigate was laid down in 2000 and commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy in mid-2004. Ballarat is a long-range frigate capable of air defence, surface and undersea warfare, surveillance, reconnaissance and interdiction. Ballarat‘s combat capabilities have been significantly improved under the Anti-Ship Missile Defence upgrade program, a world class program that provides an enhanced sensor and weapons systems capability.

HMAS Ballarat recently returned to HMAS Stirling on Garden Island from an overseas deployment. Prior to moving to the Australian Maritime Complex (AMC) in Henderson for maintenance, RIS was able to mobilise to Garden Island to conduct the in-water hull survey. The inspection took a day and was considered a success by DSTG as RIS was able to provide an assessment on marine growth in accordance with the Department of Defence’s reporting structure.

The Director and Chief Pilot, Neil O’Grady, says “We are excited to continue working at HMAS Stirling by providing subsea and aerial inspection capabilities for the Department of Defence. It also provides opportunities for a few of our employees who are Royal Australian Navy veterans, to work alongside us in a familiar environment where they really flourish and feel comfortable.”

The use of a ROV for the hull inspection eliminated the risk of deploying divers in the water and provided a safe option for collecting subsea data. ROVs today are proven to be more common as companies are seeking innovative ways of conducting subsea work in a more safe and efficient manner.

Australian Defence Force Veteran owned and operated Remote Systems Company

Transitioning from the Defence Force is a daunting prospect and can be challenging even with all the support networks in place. Many ADF Veterans who take the big step of moving into civilian employment will find it tough navigating the paths to finding the right career for them. Remote Imaging Solutions is a new and innovative company which prides itself on being fully owned and operated by ADF Veterans. Ben Durnin, Sean O’Grady and Neil O’Grady have set themselves apart by using their background and initiative to start a small business to build a future for themselves outside of Defence.

The three Directors are from the Navy and Army with 40 years of Defence service between them. Using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Remotely Operated submersible Vehicles (ROVs), Ben, Sean and Neil capture imagery and data to help other businesses understand their assets, risks and monitor a range of variables over time.

Bringing the ability to fly above an area with high resolution cameras, or getting underwater to capture things not normally seen is of great value to companies who need to be sure that work is being conducted in the right manner, or assets are in good working order. Manipulating this data as an end product also has benefits that industries starting to understand.

RIS has conducted work on a range of projects in its first 12 months and continues to develop relationships with all its clients to find solutions that are outside the normal thinking of how something can be done. The ability to get a task, and find a safe, reliable and repeatable process is all part of the mindset of these Veterans. This was recently highlighted when the Centre for Defence Industry Capability promoted a case study of how the RIS team used a UAV to do an internal inspection of a Naval vessels empty fuel tank for a regular structural inspection – see full story HERE.

Ben spent 20 years in the Navy being a Sailor and Officer. He worked on a range of complex missile and RADAR systems with postings to both Adelaide Class Frigates and ANZAC Class Frigates. Multiple deployments to the Middle East and Border Protection also gives Ben a level of resilience and ability to be flexible and dynamic in the field.

Sean served 8 years in the Navy as a Submariner conducting work around Australia and the World in one of the most complex maritime vessels. As an Electronics Technician, Sean was able to master all the elements that make a submarine a formidable asset for the Government while operating in a safe manner. He understands the importance of trust and competence in an environment of high risk. These are skills that are invaluable when operating a UAV under the regulations of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, or putting a submersible vehicle in the water around a multi-million dollar asset.

Neil started in the Army as an Aviation Technician and then transferred to the Armoured Corp. He had postings to Darwin, Townsville, Brisbane and Puckapunyal in a wide range of roles. These have included positions that had him being part of the team in ASLAVs and Bushmasters. His personal highlight was being deployed to Operation Slipper in Afghanistan. Neil has professionalism and technical skills that compliment Ben and Sean in RIS. He has experiences under his belt that allows him to think strategically and act in a well planned and executed manner.

RIS plans to continue to expand in the market of Unmanned Vehicles and show industry how this new and capable technology can be a valued part of any work flow. As the company grows it certainly has a desire to find Veterans with the right skills and attitudes to help it grow to become a user of choice across many communities and businesses.

Hull Inspection for the Royal Australian Navy

Remote Imaging Solutions recently completed a significant task which involved flying a UAV inside a large holding tank onboard HMAS Sirius. This is significant as it was the first time it was conducted in Australia on a Royal Australian Navy vessel.

Navy Vessel
Large Navy Vessel hull inspections are no problem for Remote Imaging Solutions

Local Perth business, Remote Imaging Solutions, may have only been in business a year, but they are already helping the Royal Australian Navy make significant time and cost savings.

Director and Chief Pilot, Ben Durnin, says his company loves solving problems. “We come from engineering and technical backgrounds, and it is our passion to work with clients to find practical and cost-effective solutions – rather than chasing expensive time- consuming elements.

Hull Inspection for Navy Ship

“In May 2017, we undertook an internal inspection using an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) inside large fuel tanks of HMAS Sirius for the Navy as part of its rolling hull survey requirements.”

“There had been problems overseas before doing this kind of work, we looked at those and researched how we could overcome those issues. Although we knew the tanks would be clean and obstruction free, there would be no GPS signal, no reference point to hold the UAV steady – we had to fly it off the stick by sight. There were also elements of working inside a confined space on a tanker ship that made the job more unique and challenging.

“We also had to come up with a lighting solution to make sure the inspection was safe, and the inspector could see what he needed to in order to sign off the work  – otherwise he may have had to use scaffolding and rigging which wouldn’t have saved any time or money.

“It was a great success, and certainly an Australian first. Both the Navy and the Senior Surveyor from Lloyd’s Register were happy with the outcome. We need to ensure we close the loop on the technology and process, so we can use UAVs in this type of situation now we’ve proved it can work. It’s a significant milestone in Australia,” Mr Durnin said.

“The great thing about the Australian shipping community is people find out what you’re doing! BAE contacted us about a ship coming out of maintenance – they needed to check the navigation lights at night and how far the light could be seen around the ship, but there was another ship in the way. Rather than turn the ship in the wharf or move the other ship, we used our drone at night to do the visual check for them. We did the work in two hours, had it verified, and the job signed off. It wasn’t a huge leap of the technology, but a good use of it.”

Hull Inspection
The size of the internal hull made inspection a challenge. Our UAV equipment provided a complete solution.

Remote Imaging Solutions hope to grow their business further over the next two years.

“The challenge is to help Defence understand what remotely operated aerial and underwater systems can be used for, so we can help save time and money whilst reducing risk to personnel.

“Defence needs to work with people they can trust. We hold a Remote Operators Certificate through CASA and are very proud of our skillset and experience in using both UAVs and Remotely Operated Submersibles. The risks of using inexperienced or unlicensed operators can be quite high,” Mr Durnin said.

“We have experience in a large range of markets, but now we’re looking to see how we can help Defence.”

Growth in Defence Industry Networks for Remote Imaging Solutions

Remote Imaging Solutions has been selected to be listed in the inaugural Defence Industry Capability Directory. It is part of the Western Australian Governments support for local Defence Industry by highlighting the capabilities of all the businesses in WA that can contribute to the latest wave of investment in projects that Defence is undertaking in WA.

The work conducted as part of the Defence West Hub’s initiative is supported by the Premier Mark McGowan and the Minister for Defence Issues Paul Papalia. The aim is to focus on the Commonwealth Government’s Defence Integrated Investment Program and the six capability streams contained within it.

The company was able to review its current and future plans of UAVs and ROVs against the Defence capability streams to understand where its products could contribute to the national Defence endeavour. As part of the selection process Remote Imaging Solutions was able to detail and demonstrate the capabilities it encompasses across 5 capability streams and 15 capability domains.

Rear Admiral (Rtd) Raydon Gates AO CSM, promotes the world class and globally competitive capabilities of WA and the Defence Industry Capability Directory. It will be the first stop for enterprises looking to engage with small to medium enterprises like Remote Imaging Solutions to utilise UAVs and ROVs in a range of Defence activities in WA.

In addition to the Defence Industry Capability Directory highlighting the skills and expertise in UAVs and ROVs, Remote Imaging Solutions is proud to be part of the Henderson Alliance. It is the intention of Remote Imaging Solutions to expand its presence into Defence Industry to collaborate with all levels of contractors and embed itself as an enterprise of choice when utilising UAV and ROV technology to compliment Defence maintenance and operations.

“The Henderson Alliance has been established by a group of progressive small & medium enterprises (SMEs) to support a higher level of small business participation in emerging defence industry contracts in Western Australia.”

The purpose is three-fold:

  • to provide a voice to industry and government for SMEs in defence
  • to provide a platform for SMEs to form partnerships to allow participation in larger scale projects
  • to create a forum for networking, mutual support and innovation

Compact and Mobile ROVs

Remote Imaging Solutions has recently been engaged for its experience and professionalism in the use of  MiniROVs helping businesses overcome a range of problems. With the SeaBotix LBV150 ROV, the team has worked on tasks ranging from internal tank inspections using an ultrasonic thickness measurement device to depth and seabed surveys on wharves and sensitive maritime environments.

When you need to get Ultrasonic Thickness readings as part of a Non-Destructive Testing Program inside a tank full of water, putting a diver in and all the risks, costs and time involved is a great concern. Why not use an ROV? With a fibre optic tether and live video feed via high definition camera, it makes sense to use an ROV and get the job done safely and in a timely manner. At Remote Imaging Solutions we can use a range of tooling inside a tank and do what is required for our clients.

If there is a need to see what is at the bottom of a wharf area or find out what is happening over time on a seabed, again, replacing divers with our ROVs is a benefit that customers are realising more and more.  With electronically controlled thrusters and no harmful substances onboard our ROVs these systems present a low risk to the environment. Remote Imaging Solutions can mobilise its gear and be on site with all the required systems in 24 hours and get the ROV in the water to start achieving the goals of the job. Make sure you check out our aerial work as well in previous posts to see how we can capture imagery, ‘From Above and Below‘.

Wharf inspection to see what is on the seabed and the state of the pylons
Wharf inspection to see what is on the seabed and the state of the pylons

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