What started with a handful of entrepreneurs in Kiel and Hamburg in the early 2000s has evolved into Kongsberg Maritime's new subsea monitoring division. This has resulted in several innovative monitoring systems.

  • Ove Ronny Haraldsen
    Group Communication Manager

The premises in Kiel are located in what was previously the location of Contros Systems & Solutions. The office has 16 employees and is one of three locations which together make up the business unit Subsea Monitoring (SuMo). The rest of the unit is situated in Halstenbek, on the border of Hamburg (previously the company known as Embient), and on the seafront in Horten.

The various offices are all vital components in a holistic process to develop and deliver complete environmental monitoring systems. Whilst the office in Kiel provides insurance, development, testing and commissioning of environmental sensors, these are sent on to Halstenbek for assembly into finished systems. Expertise in project management and engineering is divided between the locations in Horten and Halstenbek. This sharing requires good cooperation, and the management work consciously in order to achieve this. 

Sören Themann, head of the business unit.

“Our business unit is composed of what were initially different companies. We have worked purposefully to develop a shared sense of belonging, and have discovered that different corporate cultures are often as challenging as different nationalities. We should be better at sharing knowledge and working together across all of the locations in Kongsberg Maritime, and we hope SuMo will be a good example of this”, says Sören Themann, head of the business unit.

Following SuMo’s establishment in December 2014, K-Lander and K-Observer were developed. Both are systems for environmental monitoring in the ocean, but while the latter is used in shallow water, the K-Lander ocean observatories are equipped to be deployed at depths down to 2000 metres. The system was developed in close collaboration with the University of Tromsø (UiT), with a specific research project in mind. 

“The University of Tromsø came to us with a request for a particular type of sensor. This resulted in close collaboration whereby K-Lander was developed. We had had the idea previously, but being part of a larger company and having a specific customer assignment made it easier to realise. K-Lander is based on a combination of technologies from Contros and Embient, and technology from Kongsberg Maritime which was already thoroughly tested and well known in the market”, says Themann.

The first K-Landers were delivered to UiT earlier this year and set out off the coast of Svalbard in June. They will stay there and collect data for a whole year. They are part of a larger research project via the Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate (CAGE) at UiT to measure methane on the ocean floor and its impact on the environment. 

“Completing the first two K-landers was a milestone for our business unit, and has resulted in a new contract for four smaller and two large systems for Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC). These will be combined with the latest positioning technology and will measure important parameters in the water column and deformation of the ocean floor in a pilot project for methane gas. The first systems will be delivered in the course of the year”, says Themann. 

The new contract is the result of a deliberate strategy. Instead of focusing on individual deliverables, the longevity and re-use of existing technology is a central part of the work methodology at SuMo. 


“When we developed the ocean observatories for UiT, a large percentage of the technology was not necessary for the project, but was added with a view to future deliveries. We always work according to a model that says that 80% of the delivery will consist of existing technology, while 20% will be tailored for each specific project. This allows us to re-use the technology for different applications and deliveries. To achieve this, it is essential that our key technologies, such as K-Lander, are modular, scalable and network-based”, explains Themann.

With the current challenges in the oil industry, SuMo is focusing on establishing itself in other markets such as inland waterways, ports and research institutes. This will make the unit better equipped for future social, environmental and economic challenges. 

“We will play our part in further developing the markets in which we already operate, but will also progress further into new areas such as fish farming and water supply. Intelligent solutions to satisfy the demand for food and clean water will be important focus areas for the future. As a first step, SuMo will contribute with technology that can make the future of fish farming more efficient”, says Themann.

Link to video: A team of scientists from Norway’s CAGE institute sails off the coast of Svalbard to explore the potential impact of marine methane, aka natural gas, on climate and ocean acidification in the High Arctic