Engineering the Future

Okeanus was founded in 2013 with a clear goal: to equip the ocean professional with the tools needed to complete projects on time and on budget, no matter the depth or location.

In less than a decade, bolstered by acquisitions of Sound Ocean Systems, Inc. in 2016 and DT Marine Products, Inc. in 2017, Okeanus has established an industry-leading reputation for delivering fit-for-purpose turnkey solutions for complex marine operations from surface to seafloor.

The expansion of Okeanus’ product portfolio—which today comprises deck equipment (A-frames, LARs, cranes, winches, HPUs, and sheaves), cutting-edge research technologies (including ASVs, buoys and towfish), and essential marine survey instrumentation—is reflective of the offshore industries’ surging ambition to push the boundaries of subsea exploration.

“Our clients are constantly looking to harness breakthrough technology as a way of bridging new frontiers, and we see our role at Okeanus as an enabler—we are a one-stop-shop for ocean hardware, whatever the brief,” says COO Don Brockett.

A CUSTOM-FIT APPROACH

While Okeanus offers a growing range of standardized products—available for both purchase and rental—the team also understands that some projects solicit a more customized, partnered approach to problem solving, governed by a phased process from conceptual design through to field deployment and rigorous testing and evaluation.

Although headquartered in Houma, Louisiana, and with several regional offices in the US and overseas, these specialized custom engineering services are managed out of Okeanus’ state-of-the-art engineering and testing facility in Houston, Texas, where onsite fabrication is supported by the latest prototyping materials and machinery.

These resources and a very pragmatic approach to fusing scientific expertise, subsea engineering experience, and in-field know-how have helped Okeanus forge long-standing relationships with key defense contractors, oil and gas operators, and offshore renewable energy developers around the world, most of which tend to share a healthy appetite for technological disruption.

“We built our business around the ability to respond with practical solutions, but we are also motivated to challenge convention where technology permits,” according to Brockett. “Every customer request is an opportunity to innovate and apply fresh thinking to unfolding operational opportunities.”

HANDLING THE FUTURE

One such opportunity is the automation of systems designed to enable remote operations, often from shore-based command centers. Whether for commercial, scientific, or defense applications, the drive for increased automation is fueled by the promise of heightened operational efficiencies and HSSE standards.

Recent advances in subsea engineering and communication have accelerated the real-world orchestration of autonomous systems, with Artificial Intelligence (AI)—powered by machine learning (ML) and the Internet of Things (IoTs)—as the grand conductor. Okeanus is currently working with several private and government entities to further the potential of next-generation uncrewed systems—in particular ASVs/USVs and AUVs.

Naturally, an ocean technology ecosystem less reliant on crewed topside support places increased emphasis on failproof handing systems for these ever-smarter vehicles. But for Okeanus it also means examining how to make these autonomous assets even more autonomous.

“The practical implementation of crewless technologies hinges on the close cross-stitching of automated hardware—the mechanics of an ASV winch, for example—and autonomy software, that is a system’s ability to make real-time critical decisions about the winch’s deployment,” explains Brockett.

Which begs the question: How “autonomous” can we make an autonomous system? That will be one for Machine Learning architects to unravel, but any such vision will be entirely reliant on the collaborative capacity of companies like Okeanus to design, develop and deliver the true nuts and bolts.

This story was originally featured in ON&T Magazine’s November 2021 issue. Click here to read more.

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