The Trans Med Pipeline Project 

In the early 1970ís, Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi (ENI), Italyís state-owned energy company, began to pursue the idea of a sub-sea pipeline to transport Algerian natural gas across the Mediterranean. The option of using ships to bring LNG from Algeria was considered at length, but the parties ultimately decided in favor of the ĎTransmed Pipeline.í  In 1974 Saipem laid the first test pipe 350 meters under the Straits of Messina, linking Sicily with the Italian mainland. Its engineers then moved to the Sicilian Channel where, in 1975, at a depth of 550 meters they artificially buckled a pipe to prove it could be recovered and repaired. In parallel with the successful testing program, Saipem developed a new ship, the state-of-the-art semi-submersible Castoro Sei.

Castoro Sei, with a Maersk supply boat alongside

InterSubís involvement commenced in the summer of 1975, when Saipem engineers artificially buckled a section of pipe in 550 meters in the Sicilian Channel. In order to determine that the pipe could be successfully recovered and repaired, InterSubís technical team headed by Managing Director Jean-Francoise Durand and Technical Director Marc Henry, worked alongside Saipemís engineers in order to establish operational procedures for deep water manned submersible intervention, together with the design and manufacture of underwater tooling that could be moved into position and, where necessary, operated from InterSubís new custom-built Perry PC16 submersible.

Submarine PC16 is loaded aboard InterSub 4 at Marseille

PC 16, trial dives off Cassis - photo by Remy Durand. The boat had just been fitted with syntactic foam side pods in order to provide additional buoyancy.


Bryde Pedersen's Trans Med  Pictures. Messina Strait 1979