How Do You Define Marine Technology?

What is “marine technology”? The Marine Technology Society (MTS) has visited this issue in the past, and, in fact, related societies have dealt with the question over time. WEGEMT, a European Association of 40 Universities in 17 countries defines marine technology as “Technologies for the safe use, exploitation, protection of, and intervention in, the marine environment; involving Naval Architecture, Marine Engineering, Ship Design, Building and Operations, Oil & Gas Exploration, Exploitation and Production, Hydrodynamics, Navigation, Sea Surface and Sub-Surface Support, Underwater Technology and Engineering, Marine (renewable and non-renewable) Resources, Transport Logistics and Economics, Inland, Coastal, Short Sea and Deep Sea Shipping, Protection of the Marine Environment, Leisure, Safety.

There are many types of marine technology that are in use today, from underwater archaeology, to manned submersibles and much more. MTS has numerous committees dedicated to providing information, support and even use and safety standards for various types of marine technology.

Click on any of the highlighted objects in the image below to learn more about some commonly used marine technologies.

Renewable Energy Ocean Observing Systems Dynamic Positioning Buoys Manned Underwater Vehicles Offshore Structures Remote Sensing Remote Sensing Remotely Operated Vehicles

MTS promotes awareness, understanding, and the advancement and application of marine technology. Incorporated in 1963, the international society brings together businesses, institutions, professionals, academics, and students who are ocean engineers, technologists, policy makers, and educators. Learn more about becoming a member.


Buoys are anchored floating structures that are placed in the water to provide aid or information to mariners and people on shore. There are several kinds of buoys, but the most common are known as Aids to Navigation. They mark shipping channels, danger areas, safe water, and provide information to mariners. Think of them as road signs on the water. Buoys are also used to mark wrecks, “no wake zones”, dangerous areas such as rocky shoals, and fishing areas.

Another type of buoy besides a navigation aid is a mooring buoy, which is a buoy you can moor your vessel to instead of having to anchor. These will have ratings so people will know whether that buoy can safely hold their vessel in place.

Finally there are scientific buoys, such as the weather buoys used by NOAA and the National Weather Service. These measure things like sea and swell height, wind direction and speed, water and air temperature, and salinity. They provide valuable data for predicting weather, ocean currents, and doing scientific research. Learn more about the Buoy Technology Committee.

Dynamic Positioning

Dynamic positioning (DP) is a computer-controlled system to automatically maintain a vessel’s position and heading by using its own propellers and thrusters. Position reference sensors, combined with wind sensors, motion sensors and gyrocompasses, provide information to the computer pertaining to the vessel’s position and the magnitude and direction of environmental forces affecting its position. Learn more about the Dynamic Positioning Committee.

Ocean Observing Systems

Ocean observing systems are designed to collect ocean and weather data and forecast ocean conditions in order to provide information to a variety of users including commercial and recreational mariners, emergency and coastal managers and responders, researchers and educators and many more.

Observing systems consist of sensors that collect data, the platforms that host these sensors, and technology that sends the data to a data collection center, often with satellite or cell phone telemetry. Observing systems also include computer models that produce forecasts of ocean conditions. Learn more about the Ocean Observing Systems Committee.

Offshore Structures

Offshore structures consist of offshore oil platforms and offshore wind turbines (OWTs). They are special type of complex structures. The offshore oil platforms are large-scale structures situated in the sea. They can accommodate the facilities and equipment to drill, extract, and process oil and natural gases. It also provides living spaces for the workforce. With the need for clean energy, offshore wind farms were constructed across the world which consists of large number of OWTs. Therefore, both oil industry and clean power supply industry has great demand for structural engineers with the ability to design offshore oil platform or OWTs. Learn more about the Offshore Structures Committee.

Manned Underwater Vehicles

A manned underwater vehicle (MUV) is a small watercraft designed to operate underwater. The term submersible is often used to differentiate from other underwater vessels known as submarines, in that a submarine is a fully autonomous craft, capable of renewing its own power and breathing air, whereas a submersible is usually supported by a surface vessel, platform, shore team or sometimes a larger submarine. In common usage by the general public, however, the word submarine may be used to describe a craft that is by the technical definition actually a submersible. Learn more about the Manned Underwater Vehicles Committee.

Remote Sensing

Remote sensing is the science of obtaining information about objects or areas from a distance, typically from aircraft or satellites. Remote sensors collect data by detecting the energy that is reflected from Earth. These sensors can be on satellites or mounted on aircraft. It is commonly used for observation, including shoreline and ocean current changes, seabed depth, hurricane trajectory, sea ice change, flooding, mapping wetlands and bodies of water, and erosion. Learn more about the Remote Sensing Committee.

Remotely Operated Vehicles

Remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) allow us to explore the ocean without actually being in the ocean. These underwater robots are controlled by a person typically on a surface vessel, using a joystick in a similar way that you would play a video game. A group of cables, or tether, connects the ROV to the ship, sending electrical signals back and forth between the operator and the vehicle.

First developed for industrial purposes, such as internal and external inspections of underwater pipelines and the structural testing of offshore platforms, ROVs are now used for many applications, many of them scientific. They have proven extremely valuable in ocean exploration and are also used for educational programs at aquaria and to link to scientific expeditions live via the Internet. Learn more about the Remotely Operated Vehicles Committee.

Renewable Energy

The ocean is becoming an important area of interest in the research and development of renewable energy technologies. The ocean provides a vast source of potential energy resources, and as renewable energy technology develops, investment in ocean energy is likely to grow. Research in ocean thermal energy conversion, wave energy, tidal energy, and offshore wind energy has led to promising technologies and in some cases, commercial deployment. Learn more about the Renewable Energy Committee.

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