Marlin Offers View Under the Sea

Autonomous underwater vehicle system makes subsea inspections of offshore energy platforms faster, more affordable



Following maintenance issues or weather damage, oil and gas companies can take up to two weeks or more to inspect their rigs and pipelines before production levels of off-shore oil and natural gas return to normal. This means lost productivity and lost profits for those companies.

But, Lockheed Martin currently has two underwater vehicles – the Marlin® Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) - that can make those delays a thing of the past.

“We can help companies re-start production faster and more affordably,” said Dan McLeod, Lockheed Martin’s Marlin program manager “Our two systems are available for oil and gas service providers to lease and will enable customers to conduct more frequent and higher quality inspections at lower costs than traditional methods.”

Marlin conducted the oil and gas industry’s first commercial unmanned offshore platform and site inspections in the Gulf of Mexico last year. During its two weeks at sea, the Marlin successfully inspected fixed platforms, the surrounding seabed and partially decommissioned work sites undergoing the final stages of clearance activities.

Marlin is a 10-foot long autonomous underwater vehicle that generates 3-D geo-referenced models of underwater platforms and surrounding seabed, creating an accurate view of the area.

Marlin’s 3-D models provide companies with a full view of the area surrounding a structure and the ability to perform metrology of the structures and seabed. The models enabled accurate plans to be made for an upcoming subsea recovery operation within days of deploying the salvage vessel, as opposed to days or weeks using traditional remotely operated vehicle or diver inspection methods.

Marlin essentially creates a window below the surface of the water that allows operators to manage what they typically cannot see. The inspections in the Gulf of Mexico validated Marlin’s ability to provide faster, smarter and more frequent subsea infrastructure inspections for the oil and gas industry.

Posted on May 7, 2013