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A Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) is essentially an underwater robot that is operated remotely from the surface by a pilot while the ROV works in the hazardous environment below. These underwater robotic vehicles are ‘flown’ by their operator via an umbilical which carries the power and control signals to the vehicle and the status and sensory data back to the operator.

ROVs are very complex pieces of equipment, and can vary in size from small vehicles equipped just with video cameras for simple observation, up to complex work systems, which can have several dexterous manipulators, TVs, video cameras, tools and other equipment, often weighing several tons when out of water. ROVs are in increasing in demand around the globe as more and more of the world’s mineral resources are extracted in harsh environments, in water depths beyond the reach of divers. With present technology, there is no other practical, safe, and economically feasible way to perform deep underwater work or “underwater intervention,” as it is called in the industry.

Tasks Performed on the Job

ROVs perform a variety of important functions offshore, particularly throughout the exploration and production phases of oil and gas development.  They are used to survey the seabed before and during the installation of production facilities, to monitor pipeline touchdown and to perform many other subsea installation tasks.

They are also used to perform tasks such as:

  • Drill support
  • Inspection of pipelines, subsea structures and cables
  • Operating and maintaining valves and other moving parts on subsea manifolds
  • Enabling video observation of both divers and underwater equipment or operations
  • They can also be used to connect up the flowlines and control umbilicals, as well as to operate valves.

ROV operations require teams of highly skilled and competent personnel working in a variety of roles.  The range of tools and equipment ROV Pilots use is vast and includes both general ship-board equipment and the tools and equipment that is used on the ROV itself. These include:

  • Launch and recovery systems (LARS) consisting of A-frames, cranes, and winches on deck to hydraulic motors and pumps
  • Specially designed torque wrenches able to deliver a thousand foot pounds of torque
  • Unique lifting devices
  • Sampling devices
  • Video equipment
  • Electric motors
  • Fiberoptic transmitters and receivers.

The different types of equipment an ROV Pilot is expected to operate include cameras, acoustic positioning systems, sonar, manipulators, and launch and recovery systems.

Challenges and Highlights

Working as an ROV Pilot is a challenging and exciting lifestyle and requires people who are resourceful, good at solving problems, technically oriented and skilled at working closely with many different people.


Background training is essential, and the types of experience and training desired or required are as varied as the tasks ROV pilots perform.  Some of these areas are quite specific to ROVs (piloting and ROV maintenance skills) whereas others involve more general trade or seamanship skills.

ADAS training prerequisites include:

  • Current Workplace First Aid certificate
  • Trade qualifications or experience
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