In the 1950s the Royal Navy used "Cutlet", a remotely operated submersible, to recover practice torpedoes.
The US Navy funded most of the early ROV technology development in the 1960s into what was then named a "Cable-Controlled Underwater Recovery Vehicle" (CURV). This created the capability to perform deep-sea rescue operation and recover objects from the ocean floor, such as a nuclear bomb lost in the Mediterranean Sea after the 1966 Palomares B-52 crash. Submersible ROVs have been used to locate many historic shipwrecks, including that of the RMS Titanic, the Bismarck, USS Yorktown, and SS Central America. In some cases, such as the SS Central America, ROVs have been used to recover material from the sea floor and bring it to the surface.
.However, there is a lot of work that remains to be done. More than half of the earth’s ocean is deeper than 3000 meters, which is the current working depth of most of the ROV technology. As of the writing of this article, the deeper half of the ocean has never been explored. This vast area has the potential to meet much of humanity’s needs for raw materials. As the industry advances to meet these challenges, we will undoubtedly see further improvements in these complicated robots.
While the oil & gas industry uses the majority of ROVs; other applications include science, military and salvage. Science usage is discussed below, the military uses ROV for tasks such as mine clearing and inspection. Approximately a dozen times per year ROVs are used in marine salvage operations of downed planes and sunken ships.
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