Working in an ROV Control Room

The ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) control room is highly critical for the execution of offshore projects, due to it being a focal point from where subsea tasks are carried out. For this reason, it is important for 3rd party personnel who have yet to work in this arena to have an understanding of what to expect when working in unison with an ROV crew, as a 3rd party entity.

                More importantly, it is imperative that 3rd party personnel—as passing visitors—adapt and proactively participate in this new and dynamic environment: where work can span for days or even weeks. Thus, the intent of this article is to provide pointers to facilitate 3rd party entities integrating themselves with the ROV crew, which, in turn, facilitates: cooperation, goodwill, and mutual respect between all parties. The result: ensuring that all work is conducted collectively and safely.

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Figure 1: Subsea work being conducted in an ROV control room

Pointer 1: Project Briefing

                Briefing an ROV crew on the work that is to be performed—by a 3rd party entity—is an important first step, especially if it deviates from the projects the ROV crew is used to handling. For example, if an ROV crew is versed in the installation of subsea hardware, but has minimal experience in decommissioning and abandonment of subsea assets, it is advantageous to give a crew a top level walkthrough on work that is to be conducted. The aforementioned can be achieved by reviewing the project’s procedures.

                Furthermore, it is critical for 3rd party service providers to be receptive to alternative and more efficient methods of conducting a specific task, without deviating from procedures core. Moreover, it is equally important to be available give an in depth explanation of any part of the project that the ROV crew requires further detail on, at any given part of the project.

Pointer 2: Treating Work Area with Respect

                Because ROV control rooms are climate controlled, they offer an element of comfort not available on a back deck that is hot and humid during the summer months, when working in the Gulf of Mexico, for example. In spite of such climate control, it is imperative to remain diligent while not taking advantage of being in a work environment that is indifferent to external weather. This frame of mind is to equally be applied when working in large ROV control rooms—that resemble office lounges—due to these areas being outfitted with large sofas and tables. Thus, it is important to focus on the operations at hand, and not treat the control room as “hang out”, or an area to rest, but to remember it is a place where critical operations are carried out. Conversely, smaller ROV control rooms—as shown in Figure 1—require a spatial awareness of when one is essential to ongoing operations, and when one’s involvement is not critical to ongoing operations.

Pointer 3: Previous Project Documents

                Of equal importance, is the use of nonproprietary training documents that visually illustrate the tasks that are to be performed—via images from previous projects, or 3D drawings. This approach is highly recommended as it gives a visual representation of a procedure and a project’s scope of work. The result: ensuring all involved parties are on equal footing at each phase of a project.

Further Pointers

                Because of the complexity and inherit intricacies of operating in a ROV control room, a follow up article will be published—offering additional pointers—to further acclimate personnel who have yet to work in such critical and dynamic environment.