Deep Dig-It - Our deepest trench yet


Marine contractor Van Oord is due to complete final tests of its new Deep Dig-It trenching machine, designed and engineered in collaboration with world leading sub-sea technology experts Soil Machine Dynamics Ltd (SMD).

SMD delivered the Deep Dig-It to Van Oord in December 2019, loading it onto the MPI Adventure from the Swan Hunter dock in Tyne and Wear, UK. The team has since been testing the subsea Deep Burial Tractor 2400 (DBT2400), ahead of deployment to the HKZ Offshore Wind Farm in The Netherlands.

Once in situ, the Deep Dig-It will bury four export cables deep underwater, running from the windfarm to shore, via the busy Rotterdam Maasmond shipping lane. Installation of the new cables into the North Sea seabed will begin in July 2020.

The new Deep Dig-It is a so-called “Tracked Remotely Operated Vehicle” (TROV), which drives unmanned over the seabed, creating a deep trench for the cables, while simultaneously inserting the cables and then closing the trench again. Significantly, it is the largest and most powerful machine in its class. Delivery of Deep Dig-It follows the successful deployment of SMD’s QTrencher 1600 on Van Oord’s latest offshore wind projects.

The DBT 2400 can achieve a 5.8m trench depth and represents an advancement in cutting technology which has changed the way the industry approaches difficult seabed conditions. A powerful variation from SMD’s Burial Tractor (BT) range, the vehicle is equipped with the latest advancements in chain cutting technology, housing a 5.8m jetting and cutting tool. In addition to the 2400hp of power housed within the DBT2400, additional surface located water pumps feed the jetting and cutting to enable this impressive trench depth.

Paul Davison, Managing Director of SMD’s Equipment Business commented, “This 5.8m jetting and cutting tool is the deepest cutting tool that SMD have ever supplied. Van Oord approached us with their contract requirements, and we have worked in collaboration with them to develop a unique and cable friendly solution. Van Oord are one of the most experienced marine contractor in the offshore wind industry and we are delighted to supply them with this second piece of kit to further strengthen their trenching capability.”

SMD Services’ dedicated customer training team have delivered bespoke training courses to ensure Van Oord’s operational team are equipped with the necessary operating skills to get the best out of their machine. Alongside the trenching equipment, SMD Services have supplied critical spares for use during trenching campaigns. SMD’s specialist team of Offshore Support Engineers have accompanied Van Oord during testing of the vehicle, to offer support and assistance to the crew.