Following the Nord Stream gas pipeline blowing up, Russia's Rubin Design Bureau has developed an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) to continuously monitor threats to oil and gas pipelines on the seabed.
On September 26, 2022, four explosions rocked the $23 billion Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines that carried natural gas from Russia to Europe. Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 each consist of two pipes, of which three of them were ruptured. One line of Nord Stream 2 remains intact. While it has been proven that sabotage was involved, it still remains unclear who did it.
Rubin Design Bureau unveiled Argus’ conceptual design at the ongoing ARMY-2023 Forum (August 14-20).
As per a document provided to Defense Mirror at the event, Argus can support offshore field exploration and development. It can explore subsea natural resources, collect data on the bottom structure and state of water environment. By using information supplied by Argus, offshore project team can quickly and accurately locate an area suitable for laying a pipeline. After laying of the pipeline is completed, Argus monitors health of the seabed equipment: detects oil/gas leak, locates the insulation damage and identifies free span of the subsea pipeline or a pipe shift from original position. Argus guards underwater infrastructure detecting an alien object near the pipeline, identifying it as a hazardous one and reporting that to a mother ship.
Argus can also be used during salvage operations: the vehicle will search lost objects, including silted and covered with ground ones.
AUV can operate within a group or similar-type vehicles coordinating their actions. The group engages up to five vehicles, significantly decreasing duration and cost of mission (e.g., surveying operation or mapping a large seabed area).
The vehicle weighs 3.2 tons, its length is 5.6m and hull diameter is 1m. A lithium-ion battery powers the AUV. Detachable sections support multi-tasking of the vehicle. When submerged, Argus maintains coded communication with surface mother ship, other deployed AUVs and seabed communication nodes. When surfaced, it uses VHF communication, satellite communication, Wi-Fi system.
Diving depth of Argus is up to 6,000m. Following customer’s request, Argus may also be designed for the diving depth of 1,000-3,000m. At cruising speed (up to 3 knots), Argus works autonomously up to 24 hours. If requires, it makes full underwater speed up to 8 knots.
A customized launch and recovery system (LARS) allows Argus’ operations up to sea state 4. The vehicle can deploy different sensors, including seismic detectors, and sampling devices to the specified area.
Rubin intends to develop an underwater docking station seeing AUV Argus used jointly with a seabed berthing facility. The docking station will provide for AUV communication with the control center ashore or located at an offshore platform. It will also charge AUV’s batteries. In such a system, Argus will take on the role of a “resident” underwater vehicle capable to stay submerged for half a year and, in future, even longer.
Argus can be deployed for other purposes, following a customer’s wish, a demanded payload will be granted.