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Intervention of SCUBA Diving and Peril Management

Diving Operations – Remotely Operated Vehicle Intervention

In addition to its independent inspection capability, the ROV can be a useful diver aid. Its ability to visually monitor the diver has been shown to be a positive safety benefit. Sensible and practical application of the instructions given below will prevent the ROV from becoming a hazard to the diver. Problems may arise during operations where it is decided to use an ROV for independent inspection (with a diver in the water), or for diver monitoring alone. Some of these are as follows:

  • Entanglement of diver and ROV umbilical’s.
  • Injury to a diver through collision with the ROV.
  • Electric Shock.
  • Obstruction of the diver by the ROV or its umbilical.

Where possible to prevent or minimize these potential problems, the instructions contained in the following paragraphs are to be applied.

Personnel Protection

The following restrictions apply:

  • Line insulation monitors fitted with circuit breakers must be used. Any insulation fault must be reported immediately to the diving team leader/supervisor.
  • Areas of high voltage on ROVs such as terminations and penetrators should be clearly marked so as to provide a warning to divers.
  • All thrusters must be fitted with securely fixed guards to prevent the ingress of a divers fingers, umbilical or equipment.

Communication Interface & Responsibilities

There is to be a direct communications link between the diving team leader/supervisor and the ROV supervisor/pilot. In addition the diving supervisor must be able to see the picture seen by the ROV pilot. Where practicable the ROV deployment system is to be sited an appropriate distance away from the diver entry point to minimize the chance of umbilical entanglement. A chain of command must be clearly established and understood by all personnel concerned with both operations. The requirements are as follows:

  • The dive team leader/supervisor will always have authority over the ROV supervisor/pilot when dual operations are being carried out.
  • On-site operational procedures must be set up in advance and any subsequent changes properly authorized and made clear to all concerned before they are implemented.
  • When ROVs are used to support divers, pilots must be experienced in diver related operations, or, less experienced pilots should be actively monitored by a suitably experienced ROV supervisor.
  • Members of both the diving and ROV team should be aware of the potential hazards and operational constraints of working with an ROV.
  • The dive team leader/supervisor must ensure that the ROV supervisor/pilot understands relevant diving emergency procedures and their implication and those ROV emergency procedures are understood by diving personnel.
  • The ROV must only be deployed or recovered with the authority of the diving team leader/supervisor. Precautions must always be taken to avoid the possibility of umbilical fouling.
  • ROV movement must be coordinated by the dive team leader/supervisor and the ROV supervisor/pilot. The ROV should only leave its underwater site when cleared to do so by the diving team leader/supervisor.
  • The safe-to-dive certificate must include provision for ROV operation.

General Procedures

The following procedures are to be used where applicable:

  • The ROV may be used to survey the worksite to assess potential hazards and provide operational information, in which case it may then be used to guide the diver.
  • In the event of the ROV umbilical becoming entangled, the diver may if the situation allows, take instructions for remedial action from the dive team leader/supervisor who must liaise with the ROV supervisor/pilot. It must be remembered that the ROV umbilical may be carrying electrical power, which if possible must be electrically isolated before any such operation.
  • If the ROV supervisor/pilot is unable to determine the relative position of the ROV due to poor visibility, high currents or for any technical reason, he must immediately inform the diving team leader/supervisor.


Incorporating remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) in diving operations offers numerous benefits but requires careful adherence safety protocols. Proper communication, personnel protection, and adherence to procedures are crucial to prevent accidents and ensure successful collaboration between ROVs and divers in underwater interventions.

By prioritizing safety measures and effective communication, the integration of ROVs enhances diver safety and operational efficiency.

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