A remotely operated vehicle, or ROV, is a small submersible craft which performs various underwater tasks in support of a wide range of industries, including oil and gas, scientific exploration, search and salvage, inspection of underwater equipment such as pipelines, surveying and dam inspections.
An ROV pilot technician controls the movement of the vehicle from a ship’s cabin or other indoor location on the surface.
You could be:
launching and 'flying' your vehicle by remote control from the surface of the water to depths of up to 165 metres (some ROVs can dive up to 4000 metres)
operating equipment such as cameras and interpreting data, sometimes in poor visibility, from video or sonar displays to calculate and keep track of the position of your vehicle
navigating the ROV’s route, avoiding hazards such as moving parts of the ship
operating robotic arms (if your vehicle has them), to perform simple tasks such as picking up items from the seabed
judging the changing weather conditions, if necessary altering the dive programme at short notice
relaying information during the dive, verbally using video equipment and computer
regularly maintaining the ROV and its associated equipment and carrying out repairs on location
carrying out technical tasks: for example, rigging and operating small boats and basic electronic and hydraulic construction
writing technical reports and ordering spare parts.
Some large ROV companies employ staff on a full time basis, offering an annual salary. Others contract staff on a 'day-rate' basis, paying separately for each job. The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
the demand for the job
how many days you work.
Typical annual salaries vary depending on experience and contacts. Salaries can range from £35,000 for a trainee up to £100,000 or more for an experienced supervisor. Day rates vary from around £250 to £700 a day.
Some large companies employ full time technicians, but many employ others on a daily rate.
Shifts offshore can be up to 12 hours long. Onshore you might spend periods on call.
When operating the ROV you are usually indoors, in a warm, clean environment. This could be a marine laboratory, control cabin of an offshore ROV ship or diver support vehicle.
When repairing or maintaining the ROV, you work outdoors in all weathers on the deck of the ship.
When working outdoors, you wear cold weather gear such as thermal boiler suits.
There is no one single route into becoming a ROV pilot technician.
The most usual route today would be to study for an HNC (SCQF Level 7), HND (SCQF Level 8) or degree (SCQF Level 9-10) in either mechanical, electrical or electronic engineering.
The entry requirements for these courses vary. For HNC and HND courses you would need 1-3 Highers plus some subjects at National 5. Degree courses require 4-5 Highers. The subjects which colleges and universities ask for normally include English, Maths and science or technological subjects.
Some enter by way of the Royal Navy, the Merchant Navy or the RAF, after training in navigation, marine engineering or aircraft engineering.
A minimum of three years' experience working in electrical, electronics, hydraulics or mechanics may be necessary.
To work offshore you must pass a medical examination every 2 years.
You must also pass an offshore survival course such as the Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Emergency Training Certificate (BOSIET). Contact Cogent for more details.
You may have to undertake the Minimum Industry Safety Training (MIST) course.
As well as the oil and gas industries, ROV pilot technicians find work in civil engineering, the defence and security industry, environmental sciences and marine archaeology.