Sea and sunset

Portsmouth-based Subsea Craft and the University begin work on innovative algorithms to help predict maintenance work needs on marine craft.

3 November 2021

5 min read

Subsea Craft (Subsea), a British company at the vanguard of innovation in maritime defence technology, has today announced an innovative partnership with the University of Portsmouth to deliver advanced prognostic technology that can determine when marine craft need maintenance before routine inspections.

The partnership, funded by Subsea and by £220,000 made available by Innovate UK through the ‘Knowledge Transfer Partnership’ programme, will run for two years and see two new researchers (KTP Associates) join Subsea, with the company also gaining access to knowledge from the School of Energy and Electronic Engineering in the Faculty of Technology at the University.

The two teams will come together to further develop research into ‘predictive maintenance’ – where algorithms are developed to provide accurate analysis of maintenance needs on a vessel without the need for manual inspections.

The resultant technology will mean vessels are sent for work and repairs based on a range of data sources, including general stresses placed on the vessel from operational use, rather than being sent for repairs based on set routine inspections.

This turn to a data-driven maintenance approach will reduce lifetime costs for the upkeep of vessels, as well as the time they are out of use – increasing vessel availability.

The work forms part of the wider digital offer Subsea Craft are preparing alongside their flagship product, VICTA – the world’s most advanced diver-delivery unit that is capable of travelling at up to 40kts above surface, before rapidly moving sub-surface. The partnership will deliver vital digital capabilities that will further enhance those already embedded in VICTA.

Scott Verney, CEO at Subsea, said: “This partnership is not only a great one for Subsea as we continue to develop cutting edge maritime technology, but a good one for Portsmouth as a whole. Our ambition is to create a centre of maritime technology excellence at our HQ in the Camber, and this work with the University is a huge part of that.” 

The team at the University of Portsmouth, led by Professor Victor Becerra – who will be supported by Dr Edward Smart, Dr Hongjie Ma, and two researchers – has extensive experience in this space.

The University has formed previous partnerships to develop similar fault diagnostics and software, including projects to study predictive maintenance, machine learning, and software development in a host of industries. The team aims to develop prognostic and diagnostic algorithms to forecast maintenance decisions and reduce lifetime maritime craft costs.

It is an exciting project to be involved in and one that further demonstrates the University’s ability to help put new ideas, technology and ways of thinking to work.

Victor Becerra, Professor of Power Systems Engineering

The partnership will deliver significant benefits for both Subsea, the University, those hired to work on the partnership and the local area. For the business, it will introduce and embed new expertise into what is already an advanced SME in the Portsmouth region, helping further boost its export credentials and become a central business pushing the Global Britain agenda direct from the Portsmouth docks.

For the University, it will improve their expert knowledge in the space, and provide them with another strategic business link in their region. For the associates being hired, it will provide the opportunity to work in a high-skilled advanced role, bringing more high-quality jobs to the Portsmouth region.

Victor Becerra, Professor of Power Systems Engineering in the School of Energy and Electronic Engineering, said: “Supporting a highly advanced craft like VICTA requires the use of a sophisticated computer-based predictive maintenance system to provide greater dependability, capability, and affordability. The team has extensive experience in collaborative projects involving condition monitoring, fault diagnosis and prognostics, predictive maintenance, data analytics, machine learning, and software development in the aviation, marine, automotive, defence, energy, and manufacturing industries.  It is an exciting project to be involved in and one that further demonstrates the University’s ability to help put new ideas, technology and ways of thinking to work.”

Portsmouth South MP and Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan, said: “I am delighted to see an innovative local SME partnering with the University to develop world-leading new technology here in our City.

“This partnership will not only deliver the next generation of marine technology for commercial and navy ships, it also drives the creation of the high skilled jobs that are crucial for our city’s economic success.

“I can think of no better place to begin this ground-breaking work than in the home and heart of the Royal Navy and I wish the project team every success.”

The project will also increase the commercial viability of Subsea Craft by enhancing the package of capabilities the company can deliver for high-end clients seeking advanced defence technology. The predictive maintenance work also provides a high-quality diagnostic solution that can be applied to any number of vessels and will underpin VICTA’s capabilities.