On 15 November 2017, the Argentine Navy submarine ARA San Juan went missing during a routine patrol in the South Atlantic Ocean. A search and rescue operation involving more than 30 aircraft and ships from 13 countries was carried out to scour an area the size of Spain. Despite such a massive undertaking, the search was unsuccessful. It was only on 17 November 2018 that Ocean Infinity, a seabed exploration company, confirmed that it had found ARA San Juan’s wreckage in a ravine, 920 meters underwater, approximately 600 kilometers east of Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina. Five autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) were used to carry out the search, which was conducted by 60 crew members on board the Norwegian ship, Seabed Constructor.

Exploration of the seabed and deep ocean is a difficult task, which can prove futile at times. While many offshore survey companies largely rely on manpower to increase the productivity of their operations, Ocean Infinity utilizes the latest technologies to make the process of data acquisition and analysis more effective. Using a comprehensive range of onboard systems and equipment means reduced downtime, which results in more cost-effective outcomes for clients. “We deploy the latest technology to collect high-resolution geophysical data for seabed mapping, exploration, and monitoring,” explains Oliver Plunkett, CEO of Ocean Infinity. Obtaining high-quality data enables better decision-making for clients ranging from the military searching for lost assets, to oil and gas companies planning a new offshore pipeline installation, to scientists wanting to observe marine habitats. “We bring greater clarity to the available information, enabling clients to act faster with greater comfort in their decisions,” adds Plunkett.

Ocean Infinity has applied proven systems at an unprecedented scale on board a single multi-purpose vessel. Six HUGIN AUVs carrying a sensory payload consisting of sonar, multi-beam echosounder, camera, laser inspection tool, and magnetometer collect data. The AUVs are capable of operating 6,000 meters below the surface and are accompanied by six unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) to ensure precise positioning and constant communication.

We deploy the latest technology to collect high-resolution geophysical data for seabed mapping, exploration, and monitoring

These multiple autonomous vehicles work simultaneously to quickly survey huge swathes of the seabed, and with outstanding accuracy. Ocean Infinity has developed bespoke software to be employed in the concurrent operation of multiple assets and the processing of large geophysical data. Ocean Infinity’s Mission Planning software takes a holistic approach to plan the autonomous vehicle’s deployment and recovery in the most efficient manner while managing risks, particularly the impact of weather conditions during offshore operations. Complementing this is the company’s Reporting software which processes the data acquired by AUVs. Once the AUVs are brought back to the vessel, data is downloaded and shared directly to clients via a state-of-the-art ArcGIS portal with advanced 3D and 4D functionality.

Ocean Infinity automates a large portion of its exploration operation to limit human intervention and deliver outcomes to clients faster. “You are not just paying for a suite of technology tools, but instead you are collaborating with people who have the vision and passion to provide value,” says Plunkett. Ocean Infinity undergoes a constant cycle of challenge, change, and innovation in order to optimize its services; it believes in challenging conventions, questioning pre-conceived ideas, and achieving excellence through innovative thinking. By the end of 2019, Ocean Infinity aims to be equipped with 3 ships and 15 AUVs in order to operate in every major ocean around the globe and serve clients that require a comprehensive seabed exploration service.