underwater vehicle, remotely operated vehicle, ROV, tether dynamics, tether tension


In the undersea operation of a tethered ROV system, the pilot's ability to control precisely the ROV is often limited by disturbance forces generated by drag due to currents that act either directly on the ROV or indirectly on the ROV through the tether. The objective of this research, which was conducted at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), was to characterize the magnitude and dynamics of tether forces by measuring them during operation. To achieve this, a tether tension sensor and data logging system were developed. This system was used to measure the forces in the tether of MBARI's ROV, an ISE Hysub ATP40. Initial results, which are presented in the paper, indicate that in certain operating regimes the tether tensions can be quite large, often as high as 600 pounds. Time histories and spectral content typical of the data gathered are presented.

Original Publication Citation

McLain, T. and Rock, S. Experimental Measurement of ROV Tether Tension, Proceedings of Intervention/ROV '92, pp. 291-296, June 1992, San Diego, California.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Stanford University




Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology


Mechanical Engineering