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Defence giant builds submarine for oil rigs

06th August 2012

Pentagon’s biggest supplier develops high tech submarine to inspect offshore oil rigs in reduced time

Defence giant builds submarine for oil rigs
The vehicle can dive to 1,000 feet and map a 135-foot platform in 27 minutes, the firm said. Lockheed Martin is also working on a variant which would enable Marlin to survey deepwater platforms at 12,000 feet.

A US defence giant has built an unmanned submarine to inspect offshore oil rigs, it emerged on Sunday, as the firm eyes the oil and gas sector to offset a period of lower defence spending in the US and Europe.

Lockheed Martin Corp has developed a 10-foot unmanned submarine, named Marlin, which uses military-based technologies to inspect offshore oil rigs in reduced time and at lower costs.

The submarine surveys underwater objects and detects changes. It creates 3D imagery that oil and gas companies can use to reduce their current inspection costs, which use divers and undersea vehicles to produce less detailed video images.

The vehicle can dive to 1,000 feet and map a 135-foot platform in 27 minutes, the firm said. Lockheed Martin is also working on a variant which would enable Marlin to survey deepwater platforms at 12,000 feet.

The US company plans to sell the unmanned submarines. It will also team up with oil and gas service companies operating in North America, Brazil, the North Sea and the Arctic.

Marlin was field tested last year in a facility owned by Chevron in the Gulf of Mexico. Last week the submarine surveyed offshore platforms for an oil major in Louisiana, generating the first commercial revenues from the project. Lockheed Martin did not disclose the name of the firm.

The project began in 2009. It reflects similar moves by other defence firms to find alternative sources of revenue as the US and Europe look to reduce spending.

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