ROV's FOR BEGINNERS
Piloting an ROV
Imagine yourself playing with the latest space computer game using the joystick zapping aliens but the aliens are nothing more than fish and space is actually underwater like in the TV series Seaquest.
Piloting an ROV is a three dimensional experience where you can (fly) the ROV up / down , forward / Aft. and sideways in general ROV's are fairly responsive and move fairly fast underwater.
Unfortunately this is the main obstacle to a beginner to ROV piloting. ROV seems to have a mind of it's own and movie in this and that direction without the interference of the pilot. It does not help when the sea ad currents and waves to the scenario to make life even more difficult for the pilot.
Therefore to pilot an ROV is an acquired art, you have to have lots of practice ( usually on the job) and many mistakes will be made. The most critical mistake that an ROV pilot can make is to get entangled or lose the ROV. This is quite a frequent occurrence and thanks to good Acoustic tracking devices and bright colour of the ROV frame and buoyancy the ROV's are generally retrieved fairly soon after a loss.
However if the ROV is entangled or otherwise stuck on the seabed or underwater structures the ultimate disgrace is inevitable when you have to call for help from another Vessel with an ROV or even worse a Diver has to come and rescue you.
To pilot an ROV always looks easy when an experienced pilot fly the Rov but like driving a car you need practice to get good.
Typically you would require about 500 hours minimum to get enough experience to cope with most underwater situations, but unfortunately today you some times can not get more than 30 to 40 hours on the stick experience per year. This is usually because the Job is too critical for a trainee to pilot or there are a full crew of four people per 12 hour shift that wants to pilot the vehicle leaving very few piloting hours per individual per day.
In the past there was very few ROV pilots so there was always lots of opportunities to fly the ROV not so any more unfortunately.
ROV Flying Training
There are some ROV training schools that give you some ROV piloting but in general you would not get any more than 8 to 10 hours hands on flying experience. However there are some companies that are looking into making ROV simulators commercially available these could be operated quite cheaply and ROV Pilots could get lots of flying training without endangering any ROV or underwater equipment. Unfortunately the cost of this equipment seems to be the obstacle at the moment but maybe if these simulators become available the advantages of ROV pilot training will be appreciated by the ROV operating companies.
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