New subsea dredger exceeds all expectations at Fort William underwater test centre


A Predator Subsea Dredger fitted to a Triton XL26 work class ROV
A Predator Subsea Dredger fitted to a Triton XL26 work class ROV


Subsea Tooling Services (STS)’s new subsea dredging system has ‘exceeded all expectations’ in trails at The Underwater Centre’s Loch Linnhe site at Fort William – moving around one tonne of rocks per minute.

The Predator Subsea Dredger, a new concept in the world market, has exceeded all expectations in terms of efficiency and performance having moved nine tonnes of 50-60mm rocks on the seabed in between eight and nine minutes in its trials.

Billy Milne, Business Development Manager, STS, said “We wanted to prove the dredger’s capabilities to our clients, as well confirm our development tests by filming it in action in conditions close to those it will be used in offshore.

“The Underwater Centre is the only facility within the UK that could have undertaken the task of testing and filming the Predator Dredger. The highly skilled ROV team demonstrated their ability to handle such an operation. From planning the scope of work to operating the ROV with the Predator Dredger and subsequently delivering footage of the trial, The Underwater Centre has provided a service that is invaluable to our company.”

Steve Ham, General Manager, The Underwater Centre, said “Companies such as STS are at the forefront of technology development for the oil and gas sector.

“In today’s market, it’s increasingly important that new technologies are developed more quickly, and in a cost effective way; the facilities we have on offer at the Centre help achieve this by providing an alternative to having to test offshore.”

Further trials designed to test the integrity of the system, including the dredging of 100-130mm rocks in an attempt to break the machine and to identify any weak spots, highlighted the robustness and strength of the product according to reports.

A final test of the agitator system, which shoots out jets of water at the suction head end directly onto the seabed, breaking up the peat at the bottom of Loch Linnhe and dredging it at the same time, worked exceptionally well and did not affect the performance of the dredger. This can also be reconfigured subsea, with the use of a second work class ROV or diver.

The Underwater Centre is a purpose-built subsea training and trials facility and is based on the shore of a seawater lake, Loch Linnhe, well sheltered by the surrounding mountains.

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