JC010: Mud volcanoes and submarine canyons


All about...

The ROV operators

To be a Remotely Operated Vehicle or ROV operator you have to have special skills, and Will Handley has been working with them for over 15 years when he first started as a sea-going technician at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in America.  He is now an independent contractor. He originally trained as an electronics engineer and has worked with deep submergence vehicles of many kinds. At Woods Hole they have a ROV called Jason and the Isis is similar in many ways to Jason. Will worked closely with Jason and has become very knowledgeable about the working of this vehicle. He is contracted to ships as part of the ships team for the length of the cruise and has brought a wealth experience to the team, especially at the beginning of the deployment of Isis on the RRS James Cook. He will go on next Saturday to join another ship in Florida where his expertise will be used by another crew. Will says the essential qualities for this type of work are varied. You need to be practical, being able to think quickly on your feet and solve problems as they arise. You must be a team player, it is essential to be able to trust your colleagues in what is a dangerous environment (Isis weighs 4 tons and operates at 3000V and often at 6500m and more) and this requires maturity and an ability to be independent - stand on your own two feet. Using the ROV to investigate deep sea scenarios from hydrothermal vents to ship wrecks is a fascinating job. You are often one of the first people to see some of the wonders of these ecosystems.

Leighton is one of the youngest working in the ROV van. His background is a Computer Science degree. He has always been fascinated by the sea and as a youngster always knew that he wanted to go to sea. He loves this job. He has a few years to go before he catches up with Will but wouldn’t want to do anything else. Watch the video clip below to find out more aoubt Leighton and his job.

The route into this type of work is varied and the technicians on the Isis are from all kinds of backgrounds but a couple of ways in would either be to take a practical engineering apprenticeship such as a plant fitter or an electronics technician, or look at the Subsea Graduate Recruitment Programmes. Of course there is always a downside to any job and the hours can be long and time away from home at sea can be difficult but if you are a practical person looking for a really interesting, unusual job which takes you round the world it is certainly worth considering.

Will and Leighton


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