Blue Abyss provides a controlled, water-based environment serving the submersible needs of the offshore energy, defence, aerospace, leisure and marine research industries. This cost-effective and wide-ranging solution helps to mitigate risk in subsea operations on one hand, and encourage engineering innovation on the other.
Growth of the submersible vehicle market as a safer and convenient alternative to using divers has increased the demand for work class ROV and AUV development, testing and training including simulations. From hydrographic, pipeline and cable surveys; inspections of wind turbine foundations, vessel hulls and installations; oceanographic studies of the marine environment; military reconnaissance, surveillance and countermeasure operations; to underwater documentary and film production; a number of industries are making use of this technology.
To combat a lack of suitable and accessible testing and training facilities, Blue Abyss will offer comprehensive indoor facilities based at RAF Henlow. It will incorporate hyperbaric chambers to simulate operating depths of thousands of metres plus the world’s largest and deepest pool to test whole systems and rehearse manoeuvres to depths of 50 metres.
The expansive 42,000m3 pool will house a 30-tonne crane, side-mounted davits, tie-down points and lifting platforms, workshop facilities, secure storage and roof access to insert even larger items into the water. It will boast high-definition cameras and offer users the ability to change lighting conditions and factor the effects of currents at differing depths. A highly-qualified team of divers and supervisors will ensure safety at all times.
Blue Abyss will also include an R&D capability supported by leading universities and commercial partners, to help pioneer and take new ROV and AUV sub-systems and whole vehicles to market.
Overall, Blue Abyss will facilitate the advanced development, testing and training needs of the submersible vehicle market within a comprehensively equipped and modern centre.
"Currently we don’t have a facility where we could envisage trialling either the vessel or new systems in a controlled environment. Nor is there an indoor facility available to us where we could carry out demonstrations for prospective customers and provide training courses for operators. The Blue Abyss facilities would be the perfect fit as it would cater to all of those requirements."
James Browne, Co-Founder and Director, Scubacraft
Blue Abyss’ state-of-the-art facilities will provide the capability to develop and test work class remotely operated, unmanned and small manned underwater vehicles and specialty subsea hardware, as well as train operators and practice operational procedures alongside diving teams.
Image credits: NEEMO Aquanaut - NASA (top left); ESA - H. Stevenin (bottom middle).
Blue Abyss will simulate the most realistic and challenging underwater environments within a safe and controlled setting, without the limitations of daylight or weather conditions.