TSB case study

Controlled removal of heavy objects from the seabed - a collaboration between the School of Engineering Sciences and Deep Sea Recovery Ltd.

Technology Strategy Board (TSB)

The Technology Strategy Board can provide financial assistance to industrial and research communities who work together on R&D projects in strategically important areas of science, engineering and technology - from which successful new products, processes and services can emerge.

The project

The overall objective of the project is the development of a new method of raising and lowering massive sub-sea objects. The project will investigate the use of lightweight materials in the construction of a Lightweight Cryogenic Marine Heavy Lift Buoyancy System. The materials selected must be capable of performing at pressures of between 0 bar and 36 bar and within a temperature range of -200ºC to +50ºC.

In addition to being able to perform repeatedly within these challenging parameters, the overall weight of the entire system must be only slightly negatively buoyant, thus demanding the use of very specific lightweight materials.

Deep Sea Recovery Ltd (DSR Ltd)

Deep Sea Recovery Ltd is dedicated to the efficient construction and removal of heavy objects in marine environments across the globe. Their unique buoyancy system offers an environmentally responsible and extremely cost effective solution to a wide range of requirements.

The School of Engineering Sciences (SES)

The School of Engineering Sciences (SES) encourages and facilitates collaborative work with industry and has a history of successful association with leading technology companies worldwide. For this project, academics and researchers from the School's Ship Science department offered unrivalled expertise in the study of vehicles and structures that use the ocean for transport, recreation and harnessing marine resources.

The partnership

Because of the harsh environment in which the patented buoyancy facility will operate, the development of this product brought together a number of unique challenges which required expertise from a variety of disciplines. This made SES an ideal project partner, particularly as the two organisations had collaborated previously.


Through the partnership with the University of Southampton, DSR received a £1.3m grant from the Technology Strategy Board with additional funding from a further consortium of industrial companies who invested another £1.3m into the project, bringing the total investment to £2.6m.

"Working with an industry partner like Deep Sea Recovery Ltd, challenges us as researchers to apply our expertise to commercial problems, whilst enabling both the company and the University to gain access to funding opportunities within the UK and Europe."

Rachel Nicholls-Lee, Project Researcher from the School of Ship Science

"Access to Southampton’s rich academic resource plus the availability of its extensive facilities have enabled our project to push back the boundaries."

Philip Pritchard, Director of DSR Ltd