Please be advised of the following changes to the recommended torque values for the CS-MS dry-mate connector range.
Bulkhead Mounting Torque
20 inch lbs* (J size)
25 inch lbs* (K size)
Bulkhead Mounting Torque
100 inch lbs* (J & K size) for installation into metallic housings
20 inch lbs* (J size) for installation into non-metallic housings
25 inch lbs* (K size) for installation into non-metallic housings
The current literature will be updated with this new information shortly.
Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV’s) have been in operation for many years. The ROV has developed into large work class vehicles and dredgers, which support the installation and operation of subsea oil and gas fields, high specification inspection vehicles with high technological sensing and video and very small, portable inspection and surveillance vehicles. As ROV technology has evolved, SEACON has been the leader in providing connection solutions for all types of today’s ROV’s.
In the early years, the SEACON 55 Series dominated the market and is still one of the leading connectors used on ROV’s today. Over the years, as the number of ROV suppliers has increased, SEACON has seen that many ROV manufacturers have differing requirements for connection solutions. The highly reliable and robust MINI-CON range provides small diameter, high density connectors with up to 203 contacts and pressure ratings of up to 20,000 psi (approx.. 45,000ft/13,700m) and gives flexibility with different contact sizes, suitable for varying power requirements of up to 50 amps (dependent on cable).
Other ROV applications have required wet pluggable connectors such as SEACON’s WET-CON and Micro WET-CON Series. In addition, SEACON has provided many alternative solutions within these two connector ranges to suit specific customer requirements including different material choices for the bulkhead connector such as stainless steel, aluminium and titanium. The WET-CON/Micro WET-CON series utilizes SEACON’s molding experience to the extreme and while standard pressure ratings are up to 20,000 psi (approx. 45,000ft/13,700m), optional pressure ratings are also available.
SEACON has always supported the ROV industry with connector solutions. In recent years SEACON has seen the need to develop specialized solutions to meet specific customer needs which has resulted in new connector ranges being produced including the CS-MS and SEA-MATE series.
In addition to the ROV manufacturers, SEACON has seen new requirements from both instrument and sensor companies as the specification and demands increase for the use of both Optical and Ethernet communications for High Definition systems.
MINI-CON fiber optics
Once again SEACON has supported these requests with a range of optical products, including the MINI-CON, CS-MS and OPTI-CON series of optical and hybrid connectors.The performance of these connectors is impressive, providing less than 0.5dB optical loss while still maintaining pressure ratings of up to 20,000 psi (approx.. 45,000ft/13,700m). While most of SEACON’s connectors are capable of transmitting Cat 5 Ethernet communications, SEACON has developed Ethernet solutions in both the HUMMER and Micro WET-CON ranges for CAT 6 Ethernet applications.
In addition to the varied connector requirements that ROV manufacturers place on suppliers, SEACON has also seen various philosophies being adopted for cabling systems. As a result, SEACON provides the majority of its connector ranges with the option of molded to cable or oil filled hoses. While there is an option for cable or oil filled hose on the connection system, the connection from the ROV to the surface (tether or umbilical) remains cabled and SEACON’s experience extends by also being able to offer solutions for these highly critical connections.
Offshore exploration continues to expand into new frontiers for leading oil and gas companies. There have been many changes in exploration methods over the last 40 years, including a significant increase in the number of streamers and channels, as well as higher pressure requirements and smaller form factors.
One of the more complex areas is the seismic market. SEACON (El Cajon, California) worked closely with ION Geophysical Corp. (Houston, Texas) on its data acquisition technology, with SEACON supplying the electrical and optical interconnections used in ION’s DigiSTREAMER towed streamer data acquisition system, designed for operating under Arctic ice.
Connector reliability is particularly important where there are adverse conditions and limited access, as in the Arctic. When demand for performance and survey areas increases, so do the challenges. Larger arrays mean towing more cables and managing larger amounts of data to collate and disseminate.
ION wanted to develop its next-generation towed streamer system with significantly higher specifications, which meant more demands on the connector interface. To meet this, SEACON had to resolve the technical issues created by the amount of data to be passed through the connections, while maintaining the quality and reliability of the connection in a tiny form factor. In addition, the data had to pass through many connectors.
Geo Explorer in the Arctic acquiring data with ION’s Digi-STREAMER including SEACON’s connectors. (Courtesy of ION Geophysical)
Quality Control and Testing
Downtime from technical failure can have an economic impact on seismic surveying, so reliability was a key concern.
The solution had to meet the electrical and pressure requirements and had to continue operating on specification after a significant number of mate and de-mate cycles. The connectors were tested to 1,200 volts AC; insulation resistance greater than 15 gigaohms 500 volts DC; continuity resistance less than 0.01 ohms; and current up to 16 amps in repeated pressure cycles to 500 pounds per square inch.
SEACON conducted, evaluated and simulated conditions expected to be encountered in the operational life of the system, which should run seven to 10 years. All aspects of the performance of the inserts and complete system were tested, including connector/insert pressure and electrical performance, mate and de-mate endurance, mechanical strength, tolerance to handling loads and material compatibility.
Initial stages required material specication and design analysis. As the project progressed, lab-based testing was conducted both at SEACON and ION to validate the performance of the product. As the project reached the nal stages, trial systems were deployed and sea trials conducted.
SEACON and ION defined the interface specification, which detailed the dimensional requirements and tolerance levels for the inserts, special material specication requirements, and qualication and factory acceptance testing requirements. They also reviewed the tolerances needed for the inserts and the housings they would be installed into. While many of the inserts being provided were installed into arrays, others were being installed into modules. These modules, developed by ION with design input from SEACON, contained complex circuit boards used to interoperate and, in some cases, convert data from electrical to optical signals.
Since the space in the module form factor was limited, ION asked SEACON to develop the wiring harness to interconnect the inserts to the circuit boards. The wiring harness contained a combination of instrument, Ethernet and power wires interconnecting both the inserts to the circuit boards and, in some cases, inserts to inserts.
The main challenge was the routing and bundling of this wiring due to space limitations. In addition, as the circuit boards were being installed later, the length tolerance control on the wiring and location of circuit-board connectors were critical.
ION’s DigiSTREAMER sections. (Courtesy of ION Geophysical)
ION rst utilized DigiSTREAMER and its custom deployment technology to acquire data below the ice pack offshore northeast Greenland from August to October 2009, enabling the company to acquire seismic data in areas previously hampered by heavy ice coverage. An icebreaker was used to clear rst – year ice for the primary acquisition vessel, Geo Explorer. The survey was conducted with an 8-kilometer streamer. More than 5,000 kilometers of data were acquired between 72 and 78 degrees north without any accidents or incidents. Ocean conditions reached -20ºC on deck and -40° C at ambient sea temperatures in a mix of open water through multiyear ice of medium floe size.
SEACON’s harness array assembly. (Courtesy of ION Geophysical)
Then, in summer 2011, ION further expanded its ArcticSPAN multiclient library by acquiring 5,600 kilometers of data offshore northeast Greenland, resulting in more than 55,000 kilometers of data for ArcticSPAN. DigiSTREAMER and its new SEACON connectors achieved an operational uptime of 98 percent.
ION is looking to build on its Arctic program and continue to expand use of the system in other areas of the world.
With a world-wide focus on climate change and the need for new alternatives for the generation of power many new generating technologies are being developed. SEACON is embracing the Renewable Energy market and working with clients in many market sectors including Wave, Tidal and Hydro power. SEACON has been able to combine not only its strength in new product research and development, but also its vast experience in the supply of harsh environment connectors and systems. These strengths have enabled SEACON to provide electrical and optical solutions to this market due to the wide range of products and services already offered by the SEACON Group including:-
· Underwater mateable fiber optic and electrical connectors
· Underwater fiber optic and electrical connectors
· Cable terminations and splice boxes
· Field installation
· On-site support
Image reproduced by permission of
In addition, SEACON is heavily investing in the development of new products specifically designed for this market. The Wave and Tidal generation sectors have, in most circumstances, very different requirements in terms of electrical and fiber optic connections. For Wave applications these are generally for dry-mateable / manual make-up connectors whereas Tidal normally utilizes wet-mateable / ROV or stab-plate make-up. SEACON is able to supply many of these requirements from its range of standard products.
By Dave Jenkins and Matt Christiansen
SEACON Advanced Products, LLC
Bellville, Texas, USA
Abstract — SEACON has raised the bar, with the recent introduction of a 8-48 channel Wet Mateable optic Connector (WMC). Based on the highly successful HYDRALIGHT wet mateable optic connector design, SEACON’s innovative design leverages the existing HYDRALIGHT components, and couples them with an existing multichannel insert, creating a high capacity, highly reliable optic wet mateable connector. This higher density WMC surely resets the bar for what is possible with undersea network architecture. The 24 channel version qualification is complete, with strong production interest from a number of market segments. This paper will provide a technical overview of this innovative product, and suggest possible applications. Key attributes include:
- Field proven sealing mechanism identical to the highly successful HYDRALIGHT design
- APC contacts, configurable up to a maximum of 48
- Combines HYDRALIGHT core design with multi-way insert from our successful G3 6 channel small form factor, wet mateable optic connector
- Synthetic mineral oil compensation fluid
- Fully compatible elastomers
- Oil filled and pressure balanced design
- Linear Latching and de-latching mechanism
- Standard SEACON Precision MKII PBOF 13mm Hose interface
This new product combines the highly desirable HYDRALIGHT wet mateable optic connector (over 3300 provided), with the multi-channel insert from our successful G3 downhole optical connector. A multi-channel optical insert allows each of the (up to) 8 HYDRALIGHT optical positions to be populated with a 6 way insert. This approach preserves the basic mechanics of the HYDRALIGHT, including the shells, seals and latching mechanism, and allows for a high density optical connection in a form factor identical to the current HYDRALIGHT connector. As is the case with the current HYDRALIGHT, the high capacity HYDRALIGHT can be equipped in either a ROV style, or a stab plate configuration. In addition, it may be configured with either oil filled hose, or hard cable.
This highly innovative new product will be introduced, characterized, and then examples of how it can be used in a number of system applications will be discussed. This high capacity optical WMC is a game changer, and has the ability to reshape what can and cannot be done with subsea optical connectivity.
As anyone who has sat down and spent a few minutes trying to figure out how to bring two optical fibers together in the sea volume has discovered, the engineering challenge associated with the design of a wet mateable, optic connector is significant. While many novel designs have been tried, the major suppliers of wet mateable optic connectors have traditionally approached the mating of optical contacts subsea with a set of commercial optical contacts, packaged in two planar arrays. Joining the fiber pairs together has thus far been accomplished by joining the optical contact arrays using patented joined chamber technology, which effectively seals the coupled connectors together. This excludes debris during the fine alignment process, before opening up the oil filled interior to facilitate the coupling of the optical contacts in a benign, pressure balanced, and oil filled environment. Current contact transport mechanisms may differ somewhat from manufacturer to manufacturer, but the contact density is limited by the packaging of optical contacts in discrete fashion, all of which are brought together in the same contact plane.
While this approach can and does work, if the goal is to increase the capacity of the connector with additional optical circuits, a logical solution might be to grow this “contact mating plane” in diameter. This would result in an optical Wet Mateable Connector (WMC) of considerable size, in order to approach a contact density of say 36-48 channels. What has been done, is to step out of the box, change the paradigm, and incorporate a different, and highly innovative contact arrangement. This arrangement increases contact density in small groupings, while at the same time preserving the diameter of the basic WMC shell. This has the advantage of keeping the basic HYDRALIGHT shell size, sealing system, and latching mechanism (all of which are fully qualified) the same. This approach results in a WMC of the same form factor as the standard 8 channel, while offering up to 48 optical channels. As shown in Figure 1, and to readers familiar with the HYDRALIGHT WMC, the High Capacity WMC is identical in form factor to the HYDRALIGHT, with the exception of the header area, which now accommodate a greater number of exiting fibers .
1. Standard 8 Channel HYDRALIGHT
The key enabling technology is a 6 Channel multi-way optical ferrule, with technology transferred from the G3. Additionally, the optical contacts utilized in this new technology are of the APC (Angled, Polished Contacts) design, which results in a significantly improved BR (Back Reflection) over contacts of a flat or domed polished design. Improved Back Reflection is a characteristic highly desired by the designers of distributed seabed sensing systems, which will be discussed below.
II. Brief History of Dry and Wet Mateable Subsea Connectors
Underwater cables have been in existence since at least the first successful transatlantic cable laying, in 1858. Subsea connectors appeared in the mid 1950’s, driven by post war submarine technology needs, as well as an emerging offshore oil industry. Simple “dry mate” designs began to appear (connectors designed to be mated at the surface, and then taken subsea). These were of two basic types: rubber molded, interference-fit connectors with elastomeric bores that stretched and sealed over mating pins, and rigid-shell connectors whose mating parts sealed together via o-rings. Most of these early designs are still available today in roughly the same form factor.
In the early 1960’s, electrical connectors designed for simple mating and demating underwater were introduced, and began to find their way into more complex system designs. Soon, designs were introduced that included oil filled and pressure balanced chambers, which greatly improved both functionality and reliability. As the advantages of fiber became known, subsea designers began thinking about how to package optical fiber in subsea systems, including long haul telecommunications systems. As system complexity grew, it became a further advantage to consider how one could assemble a complex, high bandwidth system on the seafloor.
The advantages of subsea wet mateable optic connectivity then began to be incorporated in up front system design. In the 1990’s, the first electrical wet mateable connectors appeared, followed within a few years by the first optical designs. SEACON’s first foray into the wet mateable optic arena was with the HYDRASTAR design. An improved, second generation design was introduced in 2000, called the HYDRALIGHT. Then, in response to market demand for a specialty down hole wet mateable optical connection, a highly innovative third generation design was introduced in 2010, called the G3. The G3 WMC is a low profile, 6 channel WMC for space restricted applications. Figure 2 illustrates the evolution of SEACON subsea connectors through to the latest optical design developments .
2. High Capacity (8-48 Channel) Wet Mateable Optic Connection, Showing Same Form Factor (Except for Headers)
In an attempt to visualize how additional optical capacity could be achieved with existing technologies, and not ”reinventing the wheel”, SEACON considered the combining of what is now the highly successful HYDRALIGHT wet mateable optical connector with the innovative, multi-way (6 channel) optical contact package of the G3 connector. This unique approach results in a high capacity optical connection, that utilizes the form factor, seals and latching mechanism of the now field proven HYDRALIGHT Wet Mateable Connector. This has created a High Capacity Optical WMC capable of up to 48 optical channels, depending on how many of the original optical pathways are configured with the multi-way contacts.
III. High Capacity (8-48 Channels) Optical Wet-Mateable Connector
A. Based On Proven HYDRALIGHT Design
The design of this connector borrows from the field proven interface and seal design of the HYDRALIGHT 8 Channel Wet Mateable connector. Over 3,300 HYDRALIGHT connectors have been delivered, with the basic HYDRALIGHT design fully qualified to a demanding Oil-Gas (Norsk Hydro) specification in 2000. Increased contact density is achieved by combining the basic HYDRALIGHT contact approach (with 8 nominal optic pathways) with the multi-way ferrule design (6 channels) from the G3 Downhole wet-mateable connector. Using a 6 channel multi-way ferrule on each of the 8 basic HYDRALIGHT optic pathways results in as many as 8 x 6 = 48 optic channels in the same form factor occupied by the base 8 channel HYDRALIGHT connector. This allows passing 48 wet mateable channels through one wet connection, where previously 6 connector sets would have been required.
B. Reduced Risk Approach
By using the field proven sealing and latching mechanism of the highly successful HYDRALIGHT design, a significant technology risk reduction is achieved. In addition, the contact insert from a separately qualified product (G3) is used as the optical contact package, a further reduction in risk.
C. APC Contacts for High Performance
As this product development is intended to support distributed sensing systems, whose optical components rely on superior optical back reflection, Angled Polished Contacts (APC) are used. APC contacts use an angled surface to reduce reflection across the ferrule interface surfaces, thereby improving distributed sensing performance.
4. Angled Polished Optical Contacts
The main seawater wetted components are made from Titanium. Elastomers are made from fluorosilicone or nitrile rubber. Exterior facing seals are made from a fluorosilicone compound, which are compatible with the wide variety of the fluids found in oil gas applications. Utilizing further the advantages of a proven design, the high capacity connector uses the same high performance synthetic mineral oil compensation fluid, as is employed in the HYDRALIGHT connector. This fluid offers improved lubricity and compensation characteristics, as well as the appropriate index matching for optic performance.
E. Pressure Balanced and Oil filled (PBOF) Design
As is common for deep water electrical and optical connectors, this connector relies on pressure balanced, oil filled chambers to bring the contacts together and achieve the optical interface.
F. Proven HYDRALIGHT Latching and De-latching Mechanism
In a further effort to reduce risk, the high capacity connector uses the same linear latching and de-latching mechanism as is used in the HYDRALIGHT WMC. This robust latching mechanism is now field tested and proven. In addition, the same ROV handle options traditionally offered for the HYDRALIGHT WMC can also be offered for the High Capacity connector.
G. SEACON Precision Standard MKII PBOF 13mm Hose Interface
The High Capacity WMC includes the standard industry interfaces, which include a field proven, highly robust, 25 year PBOF hose system and MkII interface . This dual sealed system is in broad use in the oil-gas industry.
IV. Design, Innovation and Risk
This innovative, lower risk approach takes advantage of two successful, qualified and field proven base technologies. The HYDRALIGHT design is now fully in service, qualified in 2000 to a demanding oil-gas specification. The G3 design optical wet mate connector is more recently qualified, and has now seen service in both land and sea downhole wells. The innovative combination of these two technologies into a high capacity wet mateable optical connector has the tremendous advantage of using a qualified and field proven sealing and latching system from the HYDRALIGHT WMC. It also uses the multi-way contact assembly from the G3 connector. In this way, a lower risk, high capacity approach is achieved, that does not rely on untested, new science. In addition to this lower risk approach, SEACON has configured this high capacity connector with APC (angled, polished contacts), which allows for an improved Back Reflection (BR). Utilizing an angled contact surface dramatically reduces the reflection across the face of the optical contact, which enhances optical performance in distributed sensing systems.
A. Design Specification
Although there are no known current industry standard specifications for underwater mateable connectors, a variety of organization specific requirements documents have been created by oil and gas operators and associated major equipment providers. These specifications form the main documents used in the initial development and qualification of underwater interconnect equipment. Additionally, there are industry working groups such as Subsea Fiber Optic Monitoring (SEAFOM), that are working on creating industry recommended practices for subsea interconnect systems. Recommendations through SEAFOM are currently being developed and should become available to the industry over the next several years. As more applications for underwater connectors are encountered, greater focus will be put on specification and qualifications. This is now seen in some of the major offshore developments that are using fiber optic connectors.
The SEACON high capacity (8-48 Channel) wet mateable optical connector has been developed with the following design ratings:
Table 1 Design Ratings
|Design Life||25 Years|
|Optical Performance – Single Mode|
|Insertion Loss (IL) 1310nm & 1550nm||Better than -0.50 dB|
|Back Reflection (BR) 1310nm & 1550nm||Better than -45.0 dB|
|Operational Depth||7,000 (23,000 feet)|
|Header Differential Pressure Rating / Test||300 Bar (4351 psi) / 450 Bar (6729 psi)|
|Operating||-5C°to +45°C (23°F to +113°F)|
|Storage||-40°C to +60°C (-40°F to +140°F)|
|Min No. Mate / De-Mate Cycles||100|
|Max Mate / De-Mate Speed||0.3 meters per second (12 inches/second)|
|Latch||Linear Mate / De-Mate, positive visual indication|
|Max Mate / De-Mate Force||M 622N (140 lbs), D 222N (50 lbs)|
|Typical Mate Stroke Length||121 mm (4.8 inches)|
|Max Rotational / Angular / Radial misalignment||Rotational 10° / Angular 5° / Radial 6.4 mm (0.25 inches)|
|Max applied mating force||5000 N (1124 lbs)|
|Material and components compatible
with the following fluids
|Dow Corning DC200 Silicon Oil, Mineral Oil, Diesel, Castrol Brayco Micronic 864HT200 synthetic base hydraulic fluid, Marsten Bentley HW443 water based hydraulic fluid, Glycol, 50% Citric acid, 50% Acetic acid, Xylene, Methanol, Mono Ethylene Glycol (MEG), Water, Seawater|
Qualification of the high capacity WMC was successfully accomplished over 2011-2012 to the following parameters:
Table 2 Qualification Parameters
|Optical Performance, Insertion Loss||Less than 0.5 dB, all channels|
|Optical Performance, Back Reflection||Less than -45 dB, all channels|
|Optical Performance, Crosstalk||Maximum -40 dB, any channel powered to all other channels|
|Bench Testing||100 mate/demate cycles, verify IL, BR and mate force every 10 mates|
|Drop Test (Flying lead connector)||Drop from 1 meter (3 drops per axis, 6 total, verify IL, BR)|
|Pressure Test||450 bar (6527 psi), 5 mate-demates, verify IL, BR)|
|Thermal Shock||+60C to 0C (5 cycles, verify IL, BR)|
|Thermal Shock||-20C to 0C (5 cycles, verify IL BR)|
|Mechanical Shock||Half sine 11ms at 30g, both mated and unmated, horizontal and vertical, verify IL, BR|
|Vibration||5-150hz, 5g, verify IL, BR|
|Mating Force, Dry||Less than 500N (5 cycles, verify IL, BR)|
|Mating Force, Turbid||Less than 500N (20 cycles, verify IL, BR)|
|Mating Force, ROV||Apply 5000N in connector axis, verify IL, BR|
|Maximum Misalignment||Maximum Of: Rotational: 10 degrees, Angular: 5 degrees, Radial: 0.25 inches|
|Life Testing||14 days at 10kpsi and 150F, Verify IL and BR daily|
6. High Capacity Wet Mateable Optic Connector During Pressure Testing
7. High Capacity Wet Mateable Optic Connector During Following Turbid Tank Testing
C. Failure Mode Effect and Criticality Analysis (FMECA)
An essential part of System Requirements Analysis is the rigorous analysis of new designs. As a part of this analysis, a formal Failure Mode Effect and Criticality Analysis (FMECA) for the High Capacity connector has been conducted. The analysis follows the methodology as described in MIL-STD-1629A, Procedures for Performing a Failure Modes, Effects and Criticality Analysis. This standard establishes the requirements and procedures to systematically evaluate and document failure modes and potential impacts on the function of sub-assemblies. Each potential failure is ranked by severity of its effect in order that corrective actions may be taken to eliminate or control those items identified as high risk. For this FMECA analysis, the connector subsystem (Plug and receptacle) was assessed in its main and sub functional components, resulting in 308 separate analyses. The analysis areas included:
- Flying Lead Connector Assembly
- Bulkhead Connector Assembly
- Male Flex Tube
- Fishtail Handle
Following the assessment regime of MIL-STD-1629A, a summary of these specific analyses is shown in Table 3:
Table 4 FMECA Analysis Example Item
|TOP LEVEL / BOM||PART / PROCESS FUNCTION DESCRIPTION||FAILURE MODE (S)||FAILURE EFFECTS (S)||SAPL PART NR||SEV||FAILURE CAUSES|
|F3.2||Midbody||Dmgd Seal Surface||Water ingress, contam. oil, degraded optical perf||A170-151||III||Oring surface, dmge|
Table 4 Continued
|PROB.||PREV.||DETECT.||ACTION RCMND / DOC REF||RESPPERSN / GROUP||SCHEDULE / DATE|
|D||Incoming insp, He leak test||He leak test during FAT||Process Doc Control FAT SAPL-FAT-1043)||SAPL Eng||Per sked|
As a result of the FMECA analysis, a number of procedural steps were added to the Factory Acceptance Test. In addition, some design features were altered to make the particular dimension more robust.
Technology Gap Assessment, Applications, and Advantages
Technology Gap Assessments are normally conducted as a part of the product development of new products, and to ensure that a new product will indeed fit a legitimate system design requirement. This methodology was applied to the High Capacity Wet Mateable Connector, and how it could bring value to the industry. In such an assessment, one normally considers “Where We Are”, vs “Where We Want to Be”, and identifies a technology gap. The normal process would be:
1. Study the market and determine what is being asked for, or where an improvement can add value.
2. Identify all areas of technology available.
3. Identify the Gaps between where we are, and where we want to be. Consideration of commercial risk/return would normally be a part of this analysis.
4. Encourage/Develop products that close technology gaps, and introduce the desired products and services.
A high capacity connector can add value to a number of emerging system functional designs, and industry arenas. System applications that can benefit from a higher capacity wet mateable connector include the following:
A. Fiber for Data Communications
Additional fiber circuits make possible additional new, or redundant pathways. If these additional circuits can be wet mateable, and can be achieved within the same package and form factor, this can reduce the footprint of the required hardware, and reduce upfront hardware expenditures. It is also true that multiplexing technologies such as CWDM (Coarse Wavelength Division Multiplexing), and DWDM (Dense Wavelength Division multiplexing) are available that can add extra channels (bandwidth) to an existing fiber. The system designer must balance the cost of the additional mux/demux equipment against the relatively modest cost of additional discrete fiber pathways. The system trade-space can now consider an additional column, which includes 48 optical circuits in one wet mateable connector, where before 6 wet mateable connectors were necessary.
B. Fiber For Seabed Sensing Systems
Seabed (and sea volume) environmental conditions are now routinely tracked and recorded by a wide variety of environmental sensors. These sensors can be deployed in” point sensor” form, i.e. the sensor operates at the end of a fiber data link, or in the form of a new technology called “distributed sensing”, where the fiber itself is the sensing element. With this new technology, the fiber itself can sense pressure, temperature and even seismic/acoustic information directly from the environment. Additional fiber pathways then become additional sensing elements, and having as many as 48 fiber sensing channels in one wet connection adds capacity to this kind of system, while keeping connection hardware costs down. An example of this kind of Distributed Sensing System, in this case a typical seabed seismic sensor for a Permanent Reservoir Monitoring (PRM) seismic application, is shown in Figure 8 .
8. Seabed Seismic System Architecture Using Optic Sensors and Wet Mate Connectors
C. Fiber for Production Oil Field Systems
For the typical oil collection platform, the subsea umbilical cable is configured from the platform, to an Umbilical Termination Head, and then to multiple manifolds. Currently, the architecture is limited to wet mateable connectors with 8 channels, because of the hardware that has been available. With a 8-48 channel Wet Mateable Connector available, harnesses that serve the multiple manifolds can be combined into a smaller distribution arrangement. Combining manifold harnesses can both reduce initial hardware expenditures, as well as operational expenditures.
D.Reduced Capital and Operational Expenditure
When the fiber pathways that are currently carried by 6 connectors can be reduced to one or two connectors, the impact on system capital expenditures can be significant. And from an operational point of view, if one or two ROV connections can be made instead of 6, the on station ROV operating time (and associated expenditure and risk) can be similarly reduced.
The introduction of a High Capacity (8-48 channels) Wet Mateable Optical Connector has the potential to reshape subsea optical system design in a number of functional areas. System designers can now take advantage of a higher density wet optic connection, that can reduce up front hardware requirements, and simplify seabed networks. Simply put, the designer can take advantage of a greater numbers of fiber pathways at one distribution point. Both up front capital expenditures as well as recurring operational expenditures and risk can benefit from this approach. Further, the approach herein manages and reduces risk, by leveraging existing, qualified technologies, as opposed to beginning with a new design paradigm.
The authors wish to acknowledge the technical and manufacturing team that actually turned this product from an idea, into a working, wet mateable connection. As engineers, we sometimes forget that the concept for a new design is one thing, but the actual building of the device is another matter, and is frequently underestimated.
 M. Christiansen: Fiber Optic Connections in the Sea, Proceedings Underwater Intervention, New Orleans, La, 1999.
 G. Brown, M. Christiansen: Development, Testing and Track record of Multi-Way Optical Wet Mate Connectors for Deepwater Applications, Proceedings, OTC 2002
 D. Jenkins, S Thumbeck, (Utilizing Pressure Balanced Oil Filled (PBOF) Hose Cable Assemblies with Electric and Fiber Optic Connectors, MTS/IEEE Oceans, Quebec, Canada, Sept 2008.
 S. Thumbeck, “Underwater Connectors for Permanent Reservoir Monitoring (PRM) Systems ”, European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers Workshop on Permanent Reservoir Monitoring (PRM) Using Seismic Data, 28 February-3 March 2011, Trondheim, Norway
SEACON would like to thank everyone who visited us at Oceans 2012, held at the Virginia Beach Convention Center, Virginia, USA from the 14th – 19th October.
During the event Dave Jenkins, SEACON’s Director of Defense, Business Development presented a technical paper titled ‘Enabling Technology – High Capacity Wet-Mateable Optic Connection.’ The paper was written by himself and Matt Christiansen of SEACON Advanced Products, LLC Bellville, Texas, USA, and can be found here.
SEACON recently held a Sales & Marketing meeting at its manufacturing facility in El Cajon, California, USA, where it’s worldwide sales representatives and sales and marketing personnel were invited to attend. The purpose of the meeting was to provide updates on the latest product developments that have taken place within the various SEACON divisions.
The 3 day event also included a number of technical sessions which covered a variety of topics including underwater electrical classifications; dry-mate, wet-mate and underwater mateable, glass to metal sealing technology and connectors used in various markets. There was also an opportunity for our representatives to have a tour of SEACON’s headquarters and also visit SEACON Global’s manufacturing facility in Tijuana, Mexico.
SEACON would like to thank everyone who attended and for the positive feedback received.
SEACON would like to congratulate the Cambridge Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (CAUV) team for being presented with the award for engineering following the recent development of their Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV), the ‘Barracuda’.
The CAUV team entered into the Student Autonomous Underwater Challenge – Europe (SAUC-E), which involved manoeuvring the AUV through an underwater assault course. This annual event builds students knowledge of AUVs, and is a great way to develop their skills for the future within this specialist industry. The Cambridge team are waiting to hear where they ranked in the competition.
SEACON supported the team with the build project by supplying WET-CON OM-8-MPX and BH-8-FSX connectors which were used on the battery units of the ‘Barracuda’.
We wish the CAUV team best wishes for next year’s challenge and hope to continue supporting them in their efforts.
Photos kindly supplied by Cambridge Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (CAUV) team.
SEACON would like to thank everyone who visited them at the Rio Oil and Gas Expo 2012, held at the Riocentro Convention Center, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil from the 17th – 20th September. Below is a selection of photos from the event, please click on thumbnails to enlarge.
SEACON is exhibiting at the Rio Oil and Gas Expo 2012 being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from the 17th to the 20th September on the US Pavilion booth #46. The conference is now in its 30th year and is one of the largest of its kind in the world.
For more information please visit www.ibp.org.br