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Taking USV surveying from offshore to inland waters

Subsea Europe Services’ expertise, equipment and uncrewed platform fleet are usually deployed to deliver detailed surveys for offshore wind farms, at coastal sites or in harbours. However, in March, we journeyed inland for a project that showcases the adaptability of both our team and our equipment.

Surveying Lake Schwerin

The Chair of Physical Geography at the University of Greifswald has embarked on an environmental history research project on Lake Schwerin in collaboration with the Ministry for Climate Protection, Agriculture, Rural Areas, and Environment of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The project aims to conduct morphological studies of the lake basin and its nearshore areas, which involves a detailed characterisation of the seabed's composition.

To achieve this, an innovative approach was chosen through the use of an Uncrewed Surface Vessel (USV) specifically the Subsea Europe Services owned, MARTAC Systems developed Mantas T12 system.

Work started in March 2024 to survey a section of the Schwerin Outer Lake, acquiring data to enhance the existing bathymetric data. The surveyed area, totalling 2.6 km², includes diverse features such as shallows around one metre deep, an island, and the deepest parts of the lake, down to 52 metres.

A map showing a survey area on Lake Schwerin with water in blue and land in green
The survey area was on the western edge of the Schwerin Outer Lake near Lübstorf.

Precision and Timing

The late winter/early spring timing was chosen to minimise the interference from submerged vegetation and to take advantage of high water levels and a less pronounced thermocline, which could negatively affect the data quality. This period is crucial for capturing the clearest possible data on sediment surfaces, which will later be used to map subaquatic structures and underwater habitats.

The tasks set for this project included not only the deployment and operation of the USV but also the processing and digital visualisation of the collected data; work that was carried out by the Subsea Europe Services surveyors and data experts following the acquisition phase.

The flexibility of our USV was essential to deliver high-quality data throughout the water depth range, which required the deployment of two different bathymetric sensors to ensure the best results: the R2Sonic Sonic 2026v multibeam echosounder for the deeper areas and GeoSwath 4 from GeoAcoustics for the very shallow areas.

Evaluating future methods

The goal was to achieve a comprehensive mapping of the lakebed, ensuring that the data collected met the specified standards, regardless of water depth or external conditions. While acquiring precision bathymetric data was essential, we also collected backscatter data to identify the properties of the sediments.

The project was not only about understanding Lake Schwerin better but also about testing and evaluating future methods of hydrographic surveying in inland waters. The use of our USV represents a significant step forward in the traditional surveying methodology used on the lake, offering insight into more streamlined and cost-effective surveying practices.

The project underlines our commitment to innovation and our ability to deliver precise, reliable data in even the most challenging conditions. As we continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in marine surveying offshore and inland, we remain dedicated to the advancement of knowledge and our dedication to simplifying the acquisition and analysis of marine data.


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