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Sonsub International, Inc.

Sonsub International, Inc. is a subsea and hazardous environment service and engineering company headquartered in Houston, Texas. It works primarily in the energy extraction and offshore construction fields, developing deepwater remotely-operated vehicles (ROVs) and intervention tools to tackle subsea and hazardous environmental and technological problems.  
 
The company owns and operates one of the most advanced ROV fleets (over forty vehicles) in the world. It recently began a program to build eleven new heavy work class, deepwater ROV systems, which will be able to work in 3,000 to 3,500 meters of water. These ROVs will be used to support the offshore oil and gas industry in oil exploration and underwater construction, and to support the communications industry in sea bottom burial of telecommunications cable.  

"Sonsub employs just over 500 people worldwide, of which about 300 are marine technicians"

Sonsub also maintains larger, deepwater pipeline and control umbilical installation vessels as well as work-over/completion riser systems (hardware that is used after an oil well is drilled, to turn it into a producing well). The firm owns and operates two such systems, for Shell and BP Explorations. 
 
Sonsub employs just over 500 people worldwide, of which about 300 are marine technicians. These offshore positions include, for both ROVs and riser operations: mechanical technician/pilot, electronics technician/pilot, supervisor, and superintendent. 
 
“The type of technician we’re looking for is a two-year degree, trade school-type person or military technician who can be trained to operate and maintain ROVs and riser systems,” explains Sonsub’s John Peterson. “Generally, we look for backgrounds in electronics and hydraulics, but electrical, general mechanical, and machining are also desirable skills. No matter how qualified, however, if a technician doesn’t have the right attitude or can’t work offshore, it does us no good,” Peterson emphasizes. 
 

"The type of technician we’re looking for is a two-year degree, trade school-type person or military technician who can be trained to operate and maintain ROVs and riser systems"

Sonsub provides in-house, hands-on training for its technicians. “The primary focus of this training is to keep up with the constant evolution of technology as well as refresher courses,” says Peterson. “Continued technical training is very important, not only in maintaining our level of expertise, but for the safety of personnel and equipment.”  
 
Currently, companies such as Sonsub cannot meet their demand for qualified marine technicians. “The simple availability of qualified people is one of our primary concerns,” explains Peterson. Sonsub anticipates that its relationship with the MATE Center will help it find skilled workers. 
 
“Without properly trained technicians, we can’t do the jobs we are contracted to perform,” he continues. “There will always be a need for qualified and skilled marine technicians because the offshore environment is so unforgiving. When you place sophisticated electronics and hydraulic systems into the subsea environment under critical path circumstances, the marine technician becomes a very important part of the success of any offshore project.” 


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This project is supported, in part, by the NationalScience Foundation.  Opinions expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily the Foundation.
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