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SMD Upgrades Subsea Vehicle for Prysmian Offshore Power Projects


Following an extensive upgrade and modernisation programme, a remotely operated vehicle designed and manufactured by Tyneside-based subsea engineering specialist Soil Machine Dynamics Ltd (SMD) has successfully completed its first round of projects burying offshore power cables.

The Seamole (previously Excalibur) trenching vehicle was originally built by SMD in 2000 for use in the telecommunications industry. Now, after an extensive upgrade and modernisation programme designed to maximise the technical capability of the vehicle, it has been deployed by Prysmian Powerlink Services Ltd – a branch of the Prysmian Group, the worldwide leader of energy and telecoms cables systems and long-term customer of SMD. Prysmian Powerlink Services Ltd are using Seamole on long interconnector projects and various major offshore windfarms.

After completion of the upgrade work by engineers in SMD Services business, Seamole now boasts 200kW of increased jetting capability within the limits of the 900kW installed power. Innovative engineering approaches means this jetting power can be deployed in high or low pressure jet modes to make Seamole capable of the depth of cable burial required in the offshore power industry. This depth is now achievable in a wide range of seabed strengths including strong cohesive soils. This upgrade builds upon previous improvements including Variable Speed motor control to tune and optimise the trenching tool performance.

Graham Puntis, Managing Director of SMD Services, said:

“Building on the quality and integrity of the vehicle’s original specification we were able to complete a number of modifications that have extended Seamole’s service life beyond the 17-year history it already has. The upgrades we have completed enable the vehicle to be deployed in the even more operationally demanding offshore power industry.

“Prysmian Powerlink Services is a long-standing and valued customer of SMD and our respective technical teams worked closely to establish the precise requirements for the upgraded vehicle. I’m delighted this collaboration has seen our customer gain a significant competitive edge meaning it will no longer need to sub-contract the burial of the majority of power cables and can rely instead on its own bespoke vehicle.”

SMD Services support customers through the full life cycle of any operational subsea asset, providing flexible solutions that include project and design engineering, a dedicated offshore team, round the clock operational and engineering support, intelligent spares support, asset management and training.

The refurbishment, modification and upgrade capability of SMD Services, which supported Prysmian Powerlink Services in developing the modernised and enhanced Seamole, provides upgrades of any size or complexity allowing customers to maximise lifetime returns on their subsea assets.

Prysmian’s video of the Seamole: