Servicing node components—Large nodes should be designed to allow for modular replacement of major components by an ROV. This could be accomplished by unlatching components using seawater hydraulic lances and underwater mateable connector interfaces. This capability will lead to extended lives for seafloor observatory components.
Burying cable—In certain areas, such as continental shelves, cables will need to be buried to reduce damage by anchors, fishing trawlers, etc.
ROVs are becoming mature enough that, with proper design of observatory hardware, there should be little risk in using ROVs to service observatory systems. The oceanographic community has already demonstrated the use of ROVs in various aspects of observatory work, such as the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) installation and servicing of Hawaii-2 Observatory (H2O) and Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) work in Monterey Bay with the Ventana and Tiburon ROVs. Furthermore, the offshore oil industry is increasingly placing complex systems on the seafloor in deep water that demand ROV serviceability. The commercial undersea cable industry has a set of ROV tools, including plows and tractors, to provide cable burial, maintenance, and repair capabilities. Consequently, there is a growing industrial base on which to build observatory ROV capabilities.