Del-3DM™ in Action

Feb 4, 2015

Josiah McVicar, Delmar Systems, Inc. discusses an effective technique for training and hazard assessments related to mooring system deployment over and around subsea oil and gas infrastructure.

Del-3DM™ in Action: Learn, Practice, and Assess Job-Specific Procedures without Consequences.

For the last two years, Delmar Systems, Inc. has been deploying Del-3DM™ for various oil and gas operators in support of complex rig move mooring operations around the world. With the ever increasing density of subsea infrastructure offshore, mooring operations are becoming more involved. Deploying mooring equipment over and around assets often requires site-specific mooring plans and procedures designed to mitigate risk to the existing facilities. The consequence associated with wrapping a heavy chain around subsea infrastructure during deployment or recovery of a mooring system is high from both a monetary and environmental risk perspective. Competent personnel executing well developed procedures are essential to the successful operation.

The aviation industry uses flight simulators, automotive industry uses vehicle simulators, law enforcement/military uses firearm simulators, and chemical/electrical industries use process simulators as tools for training people and assessing procedures. These simulators are not a substitute for on the job training, but they do supplement this experience by providing a way to train people and test systems for both normal day-to-day operations as well as rarely occurring events.

Del-3DM™ provides a similar tool for the offshore mooring industry. The purpose of Del-3DM™ is threefold: training, hazard assessment, and competency evaluation. Through the use of a series of custom built software modules coupled with an industry proven calculation engine, OrcaFlex™, Delmar engineers create a job specific virtual rig move scene. This scene incorporates location specific subsea infrastructure layouts combined with numerical models of the rig, platform, tugs, and anchor handling vessels. Wind tunnel test data is incorporated to model wind and current loading on the vessels. Wave forces and vessel response are represented by a hydrodynamic database created via a radiation/diffraction analysis of the vessel specific geometry and loading conditions.

With the international nature of the offshore industry, personnel mobilize for mooring jobs from various countries around the world. Housed within a large pelican case, the Del-3DM™ hardware package is within the allowable limits for checked baggage on commercial flights. This allows the team to assemble at any convenient location around the world rather than having to travel to a specific venue to complete the simulated mooring exercises prior to job mobilization. A conference room with standard 110/220 V wall power is all that is needed.

Target Audience

Personnel benefitting from the use of Del-3DM™ usually fall into the following job categories: tow master, marine representative, marine warranty surveyor, rig move coordinator, anchor superintendent, mooring engineer, winch operator, barge captain, and offshore installation manager. Although targeted to the offshore roles listed above, Del-3DM™ is an equally valuable tool in the office during the design and procedure development phase, vetting various options to arrive at the optimal mooring solution.


Del-3DM™ can be used to convey lessons learned from previous experiences. Mooring operations can be difficult to visualize. By walking out on the deck of an anchor handling vessel, drilling rig, or production platform one can observe the departure of the wire or chain into the water, but understanding the lines behavior underwater is more difficult to comprehend. Del-3DM™ provides a 3-dimensional visual depiction of the underwater position of the mooring line throughout the course of deployment.

Caption: Del-3DM™ captures the mooring line profiles that are not seen from a surface vessel.

Circumstances that have resulted in problems, accidents, or near misses in the past can be re-created in Del-3DM™. The trainee can then take the helm to demonstrate how they would deal with a particular situation. Constructive feedback can be provided during or after the exercise and the replay critiqued by both the instructor and trainee. If need be, the exercise can be repeated to demonstrate the transfer of knowledge or the skill obtained.

Hazard Assessment

Using Del-3DM™, the entire rig move can be simulated, in blocks, from start to finish. From the tow in on location, running of the first anchor, winching/kedging of the rig or platform, hooking up to preset moorings, or proof-tensioning of anchors. If simulated prior to the typical pre-job HAZID, additional hazards that are specific to the particular job can be identified that might otherwise be overlooked.

For example, a full HAZID and risk assessment is conducted prior to a semi-submersible rig move mooring recovery operation. During the rig move, a chain comes in contact with a piece of subsea equipment while winching the rig from one safe zone to the other while recovering anchors. Upon investigation, it is discovered that the movement of the rig between safe zones was not identified as a hazard or risk. By simulating the task  in Del-3DM™, the team would have identified this as a hazard or risk. Each mooring job is different and has its own intricacies. By identifying these hazards in the pre-job phase, mitigations can be put in place or procedures altered to reduce or eliminate the risk. In the example above, this might translate into assigning extra hands on deck to get a visual on the departure of the line from the rig, hold points with tension verification along the way, and additional survey equipment to monitor the position of mooring catenaries.

Competency Evaluation

A resume or CV should be part of a competency evaluation but it certainly should not be the extent of it. The best way to assess an individual’s competency is to observe them in action. With a multi-million dollar operation on the line, the offshore mooring arena is not the ideal place to assess the competency of an individual. Ideally, this would be done in a setting where mistakes have little or no consequence.

As part of a comprehensive competency evaluation, Del-3DM™ allows an individual to demonstrate that they are capable and competent to execute specific tasks related to mooring line deployment and recovery.

For example, pulling a 50,000 t displacement vessel to a particular location with the aid of multiple boats, all while weathering a 30-knot wind coming from one direction and a 2-knot current coming from another, can be a difficult task. Once on location, the facility needs to be held steady within the designated safe zone while the mooring lines are deployed over critical subsea oil and gas infrastructure. This turns into a balancing act of extreme proportions that takes the skill and experience of a competent rig mover. Del-3DM™ provides a medium for the rig mover to demonstrate that they are up to the task.

Del-3DM Overview

Structured as a series of modules, Del-3DM™ breaks the mooring operation down to capture details associated with discrete tasks and provide for natural breaks in the process. Currently, the software consists of five modules:

  • Module 1: Arrival on / Departure from Location
  • Module 2: Running / Recovering Conventional Anchors
  • Module 3: Winching / Kedging
  • Module 4: Preset Connection / Disconnection
  • Module 5: Proof Tensioning

Four screens are used to display the interface for Del-3DM™. Two screens are dedicated to the trainee, once screen displays the 3D scene, while the remaining screen serves as the interface for the simulator operator.


Caption: Multiple screens are used to display the Del-3DM™ interface

Inputs are provided by the trainee in the form of verbal commands as would be used over the radio on the platform or drilling rig. Boats are ordered to come up or down on the power, change heading, or payout winch wire. Winch operators on the platform are ordered to pay out or haul in on specific winches or chain jacks. The simulator operator interprets these commands and instructs Del-3DM™ to complete these tasks in the order they were received. All vessels are coupled in the Del-3DM™, so as the boat deploys wire from its winch, the rig or platform will respond to the change in load. Tools are included to monitor clearance distances between mooring lines that are being deployed and the surrounding subsea infrastructure.

The survey screen in Del-3DM™ emulates a typical survey screen used when conducting mooring operations offshore, including vessel position, heading, CMG, and speed. The survey screen shows the plan view of the subsea infrastructure relative to current vessel positions.

Similar to a load monitoring interface on the rig, Del-3DM™ provides the trainee with a screen that shows the amount of mooring component deployed along with the load on the deployment winch. A bar chart graphically displays this information and high and low tension alarms can be set by the trainee.

The 3D scene can either be shown to the trainee or reserved for viewing by the simulator operator and assessor only depending on the intent of the exercise at hand. This screen shows the position of the platform, vessels, mooring lines, anchors, subsea infrastructure, and surrounding facilities in space, illustrating their relative proximity throughout the deployment or recovery process.

Actual interaction with the software takes place through the simulator operator console. This provides the medium for translating the trainee’s commands into actions within the software. There are faults that the simulator operator can introduce into the system via the console as well that compromise the information that is being displayed to the trainee. This assesses the ability to recognize when information being displayed is incorrect possibly due to a faulty sensor.

Concluding Remarks

Training individuals on the skills required to maneuver large facilities with tugs and anchor boats while deploying and recovering mooring lines has been generally relegated to on-the-job training. While it is recognized that there is no substitute for this type of training, Del-3DM™ does provide a tool to convey concepts and lessons learned between seasoned rig movers and young up-and-comers. This type of training is intended to supplement on-the-job training rather than replace it while providing an avenue to explore a multitude of “what-if” scenarios without the consequences.

With new standards coming into play, such as SEMS, companies are giving more thought to documenting employee training and competency. Simulator exercises are excellent means to provide a record of training and competency assessment in order to comply with these new standards and regulations.

Running through a simulated rig move prior to execution offshore provides confidence that the job is well planned and capable of safely being executed. Using Del-3DM™, personnel involved in the operation have already completed the rig move before they ever start, thus providing individual confidence desired going into the field.

With the stakes involved with offshore operations, it is imperative that highly trained, capable, and competent personnel are executing well developed procedures designed to mitigate the associated risks.

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