In-depth operations

Guided by principles of high performance, maximum safety and cost efficiency, U-Boat Worx is a small Dutch firm that engineers personal submersible vehicles for the private market. Established in 2005 with the aim of creating technologically advanced machines, the company has spent the last ten years developing four product lines: the C-Explorers, the Super Yacht Sub 3, the C-Researcher 3 and the HP Sport Sub 2.

Since it was previously featured in Shipping & Marine magazine in June 2013, U-Boat Worx has been focused on using its technologically innovative engineering skills to create new innovations, as Erik Hasselman Commercial Director or U-Boat Worx BV, begins: “Over the last two years we have delivered many new submarines to our customers. When we last spoke in 2013 we were focused on finalising the C-Explorer 5 Submersible and now have a whole fleet of them in operation with various clients, from cruise ship operators to research institutes. We have also delivered a C-Explorer 3 Submersible to a charter yacht that is going to the Arctic, among other extreme locations. The last two years have really been about growth for us as we build the units and support them in the field.”

One example of the company’s progression is the launch of the new Super Yacht Sub 3 at the Monaco Yacht Show 2015. The first upgradable submersible in the world, the battery-powered Super Yacht Sub 3 can operate submerged for up to eight hours and offers clients the opportunity to start with a depth capability of 100 metres before upgrading to 200 metres, or even 300 metres over time. More experienced or daring clients can also choose to have their submarine delivered directly at the full 300 metre diving depth. Another world first claimed by the Super Yacht Sub 3 is its wireless remote control feature, which can be used to drive the submersible at the surface.

Not only the first upgradable submersible, the Super Yacht Sub 3 is also the most compact three-person submersible ever built. Designed to fit your yacht, the ultra-small size and ultra-low weight submersible has been designed to add a new dimension to seafaring adventures through a flexible lifting arrangement. Equipped with U-Boat Worx’s proven technology, the Super Yacht Sub 3 also has a full range of safety features, luxurious leather seating and a fully air-conditioned environment at one atmosphere of pressure. There is also the option of personalising the interior, while the pressure hull allows a seating arrangement that optimises the view for both the pilot and two passengers.

“There was previously a limitation in being able to fit submarines onboard yachts so we were limited to large explorer yachts before we began working on a design a few years back. We wanted to incorporate the safety, comfort, viewing and general operating capabilities that are expected by a super yacht customer, but in a very small package. With the Super Yacht Sub 3 we have succeeded in doing this; this submarine has very nice features and, because owners can upgrade the submarine to even deeper depths, it is a very attractive way of getting our submarines onboard these yachts,” says Erik.

Traditionally U-Boat Worx’s customers tend to be yacht owners who buy submersibles for leisure purposes, however, over recent years the company has noticed a shift into the research market as research institutes and non-profit foundations have increased interest in these innovations. In line with this market trend, the company recently announced the launch of the C-Researcher 3, a ground-breaking deep diving submarine design, as Erik highlights: “We have had a deep diving submarine design in mind for a long time. Over the last two to three years we have been working on a detailed design specification and the requirements with a wide range of researchers, users and professionals who would be the ones using such a design.

“We have tried to incorporate these ideas into the C-Researcher 3 while also using our proven reliability and experience in creating submersibles to develop this unique deep diving submarine. It is like a deep diving laboratory that can reach 1700 metres; this is something that has never been done before and required close co-operation with a British company that is made up of experts in the professional field of acrylics. We are building the deepest and largest acrylic sphere submarine; it has really raised the bar in the whole marine submersible industry. By pushing boundaries we will define U-Boat Worx for the coming years.”

Aside from its incredible depth rating of 1700 metres, the key features of the DNV-GL classified C-Researcher 3 include three seats, one for a pilot and two for scientists; it also boasts payload capacity for deep scientific missions thanks to a unique toolset that makes the execution of a wide range of research tasks possible. Additionally, the C-Researcher 3 is available in two versions; one with surface ballast tanks for surface operations and the other without diving tanks for dedicated man-rated crane operations only. The submersible also features a single point lift as standard with man-rated certification, which enables launch and recovery in any condition. Meanwhile, when sea conditions are suitable for surface operations, the submersible offers a highly stable and efficient surface design. Viewed as the solution to operations that require the most mobile and lightweight submersible, the C-Researcher 3 can be easily stored in a standard 20 feet shipping container alongside all support equipment, thus making deployment swift and simple.

“The C-Researcher 3 has generated a lot of attention in the market and we have also signed the first unit, which is in production right now. It will take approximately two years to build the first C-Researcher 3, so a challenge for us at the moment is being able to demonstrate just what these submarines can do. However, this is not just for the C-Researcher 3, but for all of our submarines. Our capabilities have reached a certain level of acceptance within our target markets, but we are keen to show how fun, practical, reliable and safe our submarines really are,” explains Erik.

A key way for U-Boat Worx to demonstrate the capabilities of its submersibles is through expeditions, such as the joint expedition it undertook with a team of scientists and experts under the direction of Professor Sebastiano Tusa, Superintendent of the Seas for Sicily, to investigate Roman Shipwrecks, in July 2015. With the use of the C-Explorer 3, the wrecks were investigated thoroughly, with more than 500 photographs of each wreck site taken to compile two-dimensional and threedimensional photomosaics.

With this expedition a success for all involved, U-Boat Worx will continue to get involved with similar activities in the future. The company will also be preparing for its pilot training programmes in summer 2016 following fully booked courses in 2015 that resulted in six trained pilots. Looking to the future, Erik concludes: “Besides getting involved in demonstration dives, we will be focused on the delivery of the first super yacht subs, which of course includes sea trials and the training of our customer to make sure they can operate the subs with confidence. On top of this, we will continue to focus on the design, construction process and research aspect of our job, which is an integral part of our ongoing success.”

U-Boat Worx BV

Provide global ocean transportation

23 of 100 strong fleet will have scrubbers installed in 2015

Includes the companies Spliethoff, Transfennica, Sevenstar, Wijnne Barends and BigLift