Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Operator Spotlight

There aren’t a lot of jobs where showing up means not being there. But for Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Operators, who remotely pilot submersible crafts that can operate in underwater areas that are too hazardous for humans, showing up means staying away. 

What a typical day looks like:

There are two places an ROV Operator spends their time: in front of a screen and with their ROV.  

At their control screen, operators pilot remotely controlled submersibles into potentially dangerous underwater locations. Different activities call for different equipment – most ROVs are equipped with video cameras and lights, but they can also include sonar, magnetometers and a manipulator or cutting arm. An ROV Operator might conduct equipment inspections, weld, manipulate valves, or conduct geographic surveys.  

If an operator isn’t in front of a screen, they’re likely repairing and maintaining their ROV. Regularly maintaining the ROV and carrying out repairs on location is an essential part of preparing it to face hazards that humans can’t. 

ROV Operators work from vessels or offshore platforms, typically for several weeks at a time with corresponding weeks off.  

The kinds of problems ROV Operators solve at work:

There’s nothing simple about operating in offshore environments. Weather conditions can change suddenly, and platforms or ships have moving components that ROVs need to navigate around. ROV Operators have to be ready to change their dive program on short notice, adjusting and then following a new route. 

Skills used most on the job:

ROV Operators need to excel at understanding complex information, simultaneously interpreting data from their ROV while tracking the position of their vehicle. Needing to maintain the software that supports the ROV is also why IT knowledge and programming are increasingly becoming more common requirements.

And then there’s the hardware. Even at a distance, an ROV Operator needs to understand the mechanical and navigational principles that make an ROV function. They need understand mechanical engineering principles and, most importantly, be able to safely operate heavy machinery. Because even when your co-worker is a remotely controlled submersible, it’s important that everyone gets home safe. 

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