Surveying with UK-based survey company Ultrabeam Hydrographic
Backed by 30 years’ experience in coastal geophysics and offshore surveying, Ultrabeam Hydrographic is a multi-award-winning hydrographic survey company based in the UK. With multiple projects completed throughout the UK and Europe – including bathymetric surveys, bridge inspections, geophysical surveys, harbor, dock and wreck surveys and more – the company prides itself on delivering precision results through innovative technology and methods. Ultrabeam’s clients include ports and harbors, utility companies, offshore renewable energy, oil & gas and public sector marine industries.
“12 years ago, I began to specialize in high-resolution multibeam surveying of shipwrecks,” explains Gabriel Walton, co-founder of Ultrabeam. “We’d go around the world and survey large shipwrecks for commercial salvage and removal. High resolution and accuracy were essential. I worked on a number of famous shipwrecks, including the Costa Concordia and the Rena in New Zealand. During that time, I helped acquire and process the data from beginning to end. So, I could see any artifact or error. These projects led me to develop a set of unique acquisition techniques and a real understanding of what is needed for ultra-high-resolution sonar surveys.”
This understanding led Walton to develop a number of unique sonar platforms and very high precision mechanically actuated sonar mounts designed to produce clear, detailed survey data at close-range, as well as in challenging conditions.
“The [Sonic] 2024 was absolutely fantastic for our platforms,” explains Walton. “One major component was the size. We frequently ship our systems, so form factor was very important. When the R2Sonic came out, the topside unit was much smaller than what we had been using. That also made installation much quicker.”
Data clarity and precision were also critical. “When it comes to resolution, the [Sonic] 2024 is one of the finest sonars on the market,” says Walton, “and offers one of the highest ping rates available. The work that has gone into the algorithms makes it easy to pick up the real targets on the seabed as well as the vertical aspects of objects … along with the high-density of soundings, it seems to have the best of everything.”
“Accuracy and resolution are most important for us,” explains Walton. “We want to see the finest detail possible. We want the points that we collect to be as accurate as possible, so that if we come back to a site a year later, we can compare the data and look for the smallest of differences.
With the [Sonic] 2024, we can also move the focus very quickly from one part of an asset to another. It’s a very user-friendly sonar. Our team has had no issues with learning how to use it. It’s more about learning how the specific settings affect the smaller details of the collected data, rather than how to use the system as a whole.”
With a number of systems at his company’s disposal, Walton explains choosing the right multibeam for the application is key.
“The high-resolution work is always completed using the [Sonic] 2024, simply because it is the best sonar available for that level of detail,” Walton concludes.