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Helping Feritech Global develop a world-first geotechnical subsea vehicle 

About Feritech Global

Marine-i has agreed to support advanced engineering specialist, Feritech Global, in its plan to create the world’s first autonomous subsea vehicle specially designed for geotechnical survey work. Such a design would result in safer, more efficient and cost-effective seabed survey operations.

Feritech is an independently-owned engineering and technology company, based in Falmouth, Cornwall. The company provides products and services for companies working within the harshest of environments. They have built their reputation by carrying out challenging marine geotechnical surveys for worldwide customers, using innovative equipment designed, built and operated by Feritech.

Their team is made up of people with extensive knowledge of the industry, from subsea engineers to CAD designers. Working with global clients across all marine engineering sectors, they design, manufacture and retail equipment and systems, as well as providing consultancy, project support, data collection and analysis services.

The innovation

Feritech’s Managing Director, Rob Ferris, explains more about their new concept:

“Globally, offshore assets require an increasing number of detailed subsea surveys, which often have to be carried out in extremely challenging sea conditions. This is particularly true for the growing floating offshore wind sector, where installation has to take place in very deep waters.

“Using autonomous vessels to carry out geophysical survey work is becoming common place. We now want to design an autonomous solution for geotechnical surveys. Such a vessel would need to be larger than most existing geophysical AUV’s in size to accommodate the equipment requirements but a key part of the project is to investigate completely new methods to obtain the same data as a standard survey but with less (or no) physical sample being required to be taken off the survey site. Once developed, this new solution would have a global impact in reducing the risks and costs associated with geotechnical seabed surveys.”

A structured research programme

Feritech engaged with the Marine-i project to get expert help in researching and designing the new vehicle. Marine-i and Feritech are collaborating on a structured development programme with the following key outputs:

  • To characterise the industry requirements, industry standards and environmental impact assessment (EIA) required for geotechnical subsea surveys
  • Specify the physical subsea geotechnical operations needs and corresponding tool requirements
  • Design a Modular GSV with Umbilical to use with modified existing tools
  • Research new tools that provide quality geotechnical results without sample transportation off site
  • Build a Pre Commercial Demonstrator

Ben Grigg of University of Exeter, the Lead for this Marine-i project says: 

“This structured development programme will draw on specialist expertise from University of Exeter and other partners within the Marine-i partnership. We believe this level and depth of comprehensive RD&I support is amongst the best available to SMEs anywhere in the world.”

The construction of the prototype will require materials procurement, fabrication, machining, surface protection, assembly, electrical software installation, hydraulics installation, and commissioning. All these activities will be based at Feritech’s new advanced manufacturing facility near Falmouth.

The opportunity

Marine-i Programme Director, Prof Lars Johanning, says:

“This is exactly the kind of innovative, disruptive technology that Marine-i was set up to support. Feritech’s concept could revolutionise the way in which geotechnical survey work is carried out. By  reducing risk and costs for developers, it will help accelerate the growth of floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea, generating a positive economic impact on the local supply chain. Globally, it would attract interest from clients in a wide range of offshore activities. It is another great example of how Cornish businesses are spearheading new, 21st century solutions in marine technology.”   

Rob Ferris adds:

“We are very grateful for the support being provided by the industry experts at Marine-i. Their team understand the challenges that we face in creating this pioneering new technology, and they are helping us to develop it at a faster pace than would otherwise be possible.”

[Image: Feritech Global - Feritech core sampling equipment in action off the coast of Africa.]