Interview with Eng. Sebastiano Aleo – Sea Operations Director, Prysmian
How does it feel to be the director for operations of the most technologically advanced cableship in the world, the "Giulio Verne"?
More than a "feeling" I would talk about the "awareness" of having had the possibility of participating over the years in a unique professional experience that on one hand involves a ship having outstanding technological characteristics and on the other a group of people that has grown professionally over time and that has learned to exploit the ship’s capabilities at their best.
Which are the characteristics of the "Giulio Verne". Is it really one of the few ships capable of cable-laying even in the most adverse weather conditions?
The Giulio Verne has many important characteristics. One of the main ones is its dynamic positioning that allows, through a central computer, to best exploit the potential of its propeller blades: in this way the ship is able to contrast the external environmental conditions such as wind, waves and currents also of high intensity while also laying submarine cables with extreme precision along the defined route.
The "Giulio Verne" has accomplished 60 missions around the world, is there a particular adventure you would like to tell us about?
The Giulio Verne has worked in the past 20 years with Prysmian in all the seas of the world, from the Mediterranean to the North Sea, to the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, from California to Indonesia, from Brazil to Japan. More than adventures, I can recall the many work experiences that were often quite difficult, including in the Strait of Messina and of Gibraltar, or of Bali with their strong currents; the North Sea and the Strait of Bass (in Australia, between Melbourne and Tasmania), with their violent storms. In certain cases, the entire system’s capacities, of both the ship and men, were severely tested.
Can you explain the technological process that allows the ship to carry out lengthy and involved submarine connections installing cables for electricity transmission at high depths and with extraordinary precision?
The Giulio Verne is technologically advanced in its sector for its cable-laying machinery, particularly for its rotating platform and its flywheel. The rotating platform having a 7000 ton load is a large tank 25 meters in external diameter and 4 meters in height where the cables to be installed can be stocked for being transported to the areas where they are to be laid: to give you a better idea, the cables with the characteristics of those built for the SA.PE.I project can be embarked in the quantity of approximately 150 km each time. For longer connections, it is necessary to carry out numerous installation campaigns connecting each cable segment through high-tech jointing techniques carried out on board by highly trained personnel.
The flywheel is a large motorized wheel 6 meters in diameter that allows moving the cable during the placement from the stocking platform to the sea in conditions of controlled speed and sustaining its load as it descends towards the sea floor. The Giulio Verne’s flywheel, with its 55 ton load capacity is a unique machine in the world of its kind. It has allowed building the SA.PE.I., that reaches a record-breaking depth of 1640 meters in the center of the Tyrrhenian sea.
The precision and accuracy of the cable’s installation along the project route is guaranteed by the dynamic positioning system that allows the ship to follow a pre-defined route during its cable-laying and by the use of a ROV, a remote controlled vehicle, equipped with blades and cameras that monitor in real time the point in which the cable’s catenary is placed on the sea floor.