There are a number of
important points to consider when evaluating a submersible than simply seeing a
transparent bubble and its depth rating or size. A comprehensive overview on key points need to
be considered that will reflect the submarine’s key advantages on its design
but also on its safety for operation, practicality at sea, comfort for
passengers, and long term value of the vessel. The following points that are taken
into account on SEAmagine’s Aurora submersibles provide good references on how
to evaluate a submarine and its suitability for operations.
1. WHY SUBMERSIBLE GEOMETRY MATTERS
The Aurora's field of view is greatly enhanced by moving the access hatch away from the top of the window into a separate compartment behind the main cabin. Its unique ability to tilt at surface provides an extremely stable platform for boarding, which does not require obtrusive forward pontoons that severely restrict peripheral viewing. A specifically designed aft section provides an ideal docking configuration that can be firmly secured as opposed to some awkward geometry. This well thought out approach, derived from experience and ingenuity, is important in ensuring safety and comfort for boarding, even in rough sea conditions.
2. WHY SURFACE LOGISTICS ARE PARAMOUNT
The ease and safety of submersible operations is primarily defined by surface logistics. SEAmagine's remote external controls allow the submersible to be maneuvered at surface without the need to even open the cabin, drastically simplifying surface logistics. The ability to tow a submersible effectively expands the possibilities of operating at remote dive sites away from the mother ship. The Aurora is designed to be towed backwards, thus protecting the acrylic cabin, and the angled orientation helps to lift the submersible out and on top of the water as opposed to digging into it, increasing the efficiency of the operation.
3. SAFE PASSENGER BOARDING
When floating at surface, the Aurora offers a solid and stable platform with a high freeboard and a horizontal walking deck, assisted with telescoping hand rails, to guide the boarding process to the large top hatch. The purposely designed stern provides a secure docking arrangement to enhance the convenience of the boarding process, critical for rough weather operation.
4. ESSENTIALS FOR PASSENGER COMFORT
Passenger comfort is not simply defined by how large the cabin size is but, as the Aurora model offers, it begins with the ease and safety of the boarding process. A large access hatch, comfortable and spacious seating configuration, reliable environmental controls with air conditioning, and a panoramic field of view unobstructed by any top hatch or side pontoons, all add up to deliver a truly exceptional underwater experience.
5. THE IMPORTANCE OF OPERATIONAL ROBUSTNESS
Sea conditions can be unpredictable and although a dive may begin in ideal conditions, it may end in inclement weather. Besides the need for the safe transfer of passengers, the vessel needs to be securely docked and recovered on the mother ship. In high winds and seas the submersible needs to be robust enough to survive without damage. SEAmagine submersibles have a long successful history of operating in a range of adverse conditions and remote locations, and that heritage is carried over into the Aurora design.
6. IMPORTANT PROPULSION CONSIDERATIONS
In addition to having high power thrusters, it is important to have excellent maneuvering capability in all directions and not simply top forward speed. The Aurora, with a speed of over 4 knots, has 6 vectored thrusters that allow the craft movement in all directions on the horizontal plane, including directly sideways and rotation around the center axis. Furthermore, the vectored vertical thrusters allow vertical maneuvering up and down, as well as sideways descent and ascent giving the ultimate handling configuration.
7. WHY MODULARITY FOR ADDITIONAL TOOLS MATTERS
Over time, SEAmagine's customers have continued to add new features to expand their submersible's capabilities. Robotic arms, fly-out ROVs that can be controlled from the cabin, and 360 degree panoramic HD video cameras are among the many options. The Aurora's equipment interface modularity allows for all existing equipment to be integrated after delivery, with room for expansion in the future as new technology is developed.
8. A CRUCIAL INGREDIENT - PROVEN LONG TERM TECHNICAL SUPPORT
SEAmagine has been supporting its clients for the past 18 years and established a solid training program for submersible pilots, support crew, and ship engineers. The need and requirements of clients around the world vary continuously and the owners, captains, and crew need reliable support from their submersible manufacturer. SEAmagine has pioneered this necessity from its inception, and has a documented track record established over many years.
9. FORMAL CLASSIFICATION APPROVAL
SEAmagine’s submersibles are not experimental vessels and are built under the approval process of the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and international maritime classification organization. All SEAmagine submarines are classed A1+ by the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) that performs all inspections and surveys on each submersible constructed. All design elements are reviewed by ABS’s engineering review board and the manufacturing and testing surveyed by their field operations. SEAmagine’s total dedication to safety and quality of all its commercial submarines and yachting submersibles has gained the respect of many of the regulatory groups in the world. SEAmagine has a very close and strong working relationship with ABS, both at the engineering review headquarters in Houston, and at the Survey Office in Long Beach California.
10. COMPREHENSIVE TRAINING PROGRAM
It is important that the submersible has a well-structured training program not only for the submarine pilot but also for the support crew as well as the technical support members. SEAmagine developed its initial submersible pilot training program in conjunction with the US Coast Guard in 2000. From this base the program has expanded over the years, and is today an extremely well structured and proven process. The objective of the training program is not only to have trained submersible pilots, but to also ensure that the full crew of the ship is familiar with the overall operation and its contingencies.