Blog Posts

Jun 13, 2024

Unlocking the Secrets of ISE: What Sets Us Apart?

While our expertise in the subsea domain is well known, there are lesser-known chapters of our story that highlight the extensive range of our engineering capabilities. Since our founding in 1974, ISE has undertaken ventures beyond the ocean’s depths, demonstrating our versatility as a leader in engineering solutions, from the sea to the sky. Here are some examples of our work that you might not be aware of:

Designed and manufactured three manned submarines for indoor tourist excursions at West Edmonton Mall, where they completed an impressive 458,000 dives

Under the global spotlight at EXPO ’86 in Vancouver, where we established pioneering connections, including a landmark virtual handshake with China.

Our participation not only highlighted our innovative capabilities but also exemplified our capacity to bridge borders and nurture global cooperation.

In 1985, ISE played a crucial role in the salvage and recovery of the Handley Page Hampden – P5436 aircraft. This bomber, with a wingspan of 65 feet and a weight of 20,000 pounds, crashed into the sea on November 15, 1942, and lay 600 feet underwater in Saanich Inlet, Vancouver Island. The aircraft was successfully recovered forty-four years later, in 1986. The recovery operation utilized the Researcher, an 85-foot self-propelled barge, and side-scan sonar technology to locate and retrieve the aircraft.

Introduced the ATOM Manipulator, a groundbreaking innovation in hazardous waste cleanup, adept at lifting 300 pounds with pinpoint accuracy. ATOM serves a crucial role in both decontamination and decommissioning efforts.

ISE developed SmartPump, an automated robotic refueling system for Shell Oil, allowing cars to be fueled without drivers leaving their vehicles. Shell hailed it as their most revolutionary gas station technology in over a century when publicly unveiling it, in Sacramento, California.

ISE designed and built five prototype Smart Pumps, prioritizing safety and ease of use, validated through customer focus groups.

A cooling malfunction at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in the USA led to partial core meltdown in the #2 reactor, destroying the TMI-2 reactor. ISE’s MANFRED Manipulator, designed for reactor defueling, played a key role in the cleanup, operating custom tools to access damaged areas.

ISE constructed the Canada Space Station Task Verification Arm, a ground-based verification manipulator for the International Space Station. Due to this significant contribution, ISE was honored with a visit from astronauts. The STM (Space Task Manipulator) system features two manipulators, each manipulator was equipped with its own control computer.

Unveiling SARPAL, an air-droppable Autonomous Marine Vehicle for marine search and rescue missions. One of the major milestones was the successful completion of air-drop qualification trials from a C-130 aircraft at an altitude of 1500 feet, validating the design and operational capabilities of the AMV for air-drop deployment in search and rescue missions.

ISE developed the Robotic Assembly Line Refueling (RALF) system for American Controls, designed to autonomously refuel automobiles as they exit the assembly line. Created for major automobile manufacturers, the RALF robot offers a choice of two fuels, which are cooled and re-circulated to ensure optimal performance and safety. The system’s advanced technology ensures that each vehicle is refueled quickly and accurately, supporting high production rates and maintaining stringent quality standards.

The Autonomous Robotic Refueling System (A.R.R.S.), designed for the US Air Force at Wright Patterson, is a nuclear-hardened robotic system for refueling F-15 and F-16 aircraft. It uses laser sensing for obstacle avoidance and computer vision for visual sensing. The A.R.R.S. can also be used for aircraft de-icing and paint stripping.

Key participant in mining automation projects with the Precarn ELAP Project, redefining safety, and efficiency in the mining industry.

The consortium later completed the two-year Emulsion Loader Automation Project (ELAP), automating the drilling of blast holes and loading them with explosives.

ISE participated in the MiniMole mine drilling project for Placer Dome. MiniMole is an autonomous vehicle designed for high-grade, narrow vein mining. The project involved developing and testing a hydraulically controlled robotic machine for mining narrow ore veins. This prototype served as a platform for field testing various cutters, while other devices were tested in the lab. ISE contributed to the preliminary design of the telemetry and control system, operator control station, power distribution, and umbilical. They also assisted with overall system design, sensor selection, and specifications.

Our journey is defined by innovation, excellence, and a relentless pursuit of pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. From the depths of the ocean to land and into space, we consistently redefine the future of engineering.

May 21, 2024

Discover Unlimited Range: Surfacing Optional (Video)

This means you can:

  • Collect more data
  • Conduct longer inspections
  • Explore deeper and farther than ever before

“Surfacing Optional”

Our Towed Dock system works perfectly with the Explorer AUV & XL-UUV, allowing reliable and efficient real-time data transmission and charging. This system helps complete offshore missions by enabling high-quality AUV surveys and surveillance without needing to recover the vehicle for charging and data retrieval. The Towed Dock allows your AUV to stay submerged for extended periods while charging and transferring data as needed.


  • Increased Efficiency: No need to resurface means more time spent on data collection 
  • Enhanced Safety: Reduced risk of damage to the AUV during resurfacing
  • Cost-Effective: Extended mission duration reduces the need for multiple deployments

Contact ISE for more information 

There are limitless possibilities of underwater exploration with our Explorer AUV & XL-UUV and Towed Dock system. Contact us to learn more about how our innovative solution can transform your subsea operations.

Lara Smith
International Submarine Engineering
Phone/Fax: 604-942-5223

May 06, 2024

50 Years of Subsea Innovation: Celebrating ISE’s Milestone Anniversary

Celebrating 50 years of excellence and innovation, International Submarine Engineering Ltd. (ISE) is celebrating a significant milestone in its impactful journey in undersea technology. This anniversary not only honors our rich history and legacy but also highlights our ongoing dedication to excellence, innovation, and continuous improvement, which have been key to our success. This journey has been one of growth and achievement, and we take pride in reflecting on our past accomplishments while also anticipating the future ahead.

The Legacy of James R. McFarlane

Established in August 1974 by Dr. James R. McFarlane, ISE was founded with the vision to develop, manufacture, and distribute Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs). During this period, the offshore service industry primarily relied on manned diving spreads and Human Occupied Vehicles (HOVs) to support subsea oil and gas operations. However, the emergence of high-density electronics and the escalating costs of support vessels in the early 1970s presented an opportunity to create a range of smaller, high-endurance robotic vehicles tailored for various subsea tasks.

Dr. McFarlane drew inspiration from the dramatic rescue of Roger Mallinson and Roger Chapman, who were trapped in their small submersible Pisces III at a depth of 480 meters, 240 kilometers off the coast of Ireland in the Irish Sea between August 29th and September 1,1973. The successful rescue, facilitated by the US Navy’s Controlled Underwater Recovery Vehicle (CURV-III), marked a 76-hour multinational effort and remains the deepest sub rescue in history. This historical event was chronicled in the book titled “No Time on Our Side,” further fueling Dr. McFarlane’s determination to pioneer advancements in AUVs and ROVs to get people out of the water while doing subsea work.

Project Highlight: TROV N

ISE originated with the development of the TROV N, a 40HP submarine crafted for the US Navy, capable of diving to depths of 1000 meters. Fitted with manipulators, torpedo clamps, and deburial tools, the TROV N has played a pivotal role in torpedo recovery, accident investigation, and salvage missions along the Pacific Coast. Its achievements laid the foundation for ISE’s modern line of HYSUB ROVs, which is a significant advancement in underwater exploration and technology.

Looking ahead to the next 50 years at ISE

Looking forward, ISE is set to advance further in marine technology. Our XL-AUV vehicles are already in high demand, and we’re improving their flexibility to meet the industry’s needs. Additionally, our Towed Dock solution for subsea charging and data transfer sets us apart in the field.

What about the next 50 years? We anticipate a journey characterized by continuous development, innovation, and adaptability. Through close collaboration with academia, government initiatives, and industry partners, our goal is to extend the limits of what’s possible.

ISE remains dedicated to providing cutting-edge engineering  solutions that exceed expectations and address the evolving challenges of the marine environment. Our commitment to listening to our customers ensures that we continue to meet their needs and drive growth in the industry.

A heartfelt thank you

As we celebrate 50 years of ISE, we extend our sincere thanks to our employees and clients for their loyalty and collaboration. Your support has been vital to our success, shaping our products and guiding our vision. We’re committed to strengthening our partnerships and continuing to innovate. Thank you for your ongoing support.

Here’s to the next 50 years of collaboration, growth, and shared achievements as we continue to chart new horizons together. For more information visit our website:

Apr 19, 2023

How ISE Embodies the Values of Our Late Founder James R. McFarlane 

Since 1974, International Submarine Engineering has been at the forefront of innovation, sustainability, and development in the field of underwater robotics and submersibles. ISE’s late founder James Ross McFarlane instilled a set of core values that continue to shape our approach to underwater technology. Here is how we continue to embody them.

Innovation | “If you don’t start you don’t finish.

Innovation is at the heart of ISE’s DNA. McFarlane was a visionary who believed in pushing the boundaries of what was possible in underwater technology. He founded ISE in 1974 with the goal of developing cutting-edge underwater robotic systems that could operate in the most challenging environments. 

Over the years, ISE has pioneered numerous technological advancements, including the development of the first remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) capable of operating in deep-sea environments, as well as the introduction of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV).

Today, ISE continues to invest in research and development, constantly pushing the boundaries of underwater technology to develop innovative solutions for a wide range of underwater applications.

Safety | “The Physics of the problem are immutable.” 

In addition to these core values, ISE also places a strong emphasis on safety, quality, and reliability in its underwater technology solutions. McFarlane believed in delivering robust and dependable systems that could perform in the most demanding underwater environments. ISE’s products are built to the highest industry standards and undergo rigorous testing and validation to ensure their reliability and performance.

ISE’s commitment to safety and quality is reflected in our track record of successful deployments and satisfied customers around the world which we continue today.

Excellence | “Bravo, Zulu” 

For nearly five decades, our engineering expertise has garnered accolades from prestigious international organizations. With a track record of delivering over 200 underwater vehicles and 400 robotic manipulators, ISE and our team have been honored with awards from bodies like IEEE and the Marine Technology Society.

Our founder, Dr. James McFarlane, was also recognized with the MTS Compass Distinguished Achievement Award for his outstanding contributions to the field of oceanography and marine technology. In addition, ISE was inducted into the Offshore Energy Center Hall of Fame in 2009 and named one of Canada’s top 40 defense companies. Dr. McFarlane’s lifetime achievement award from the Diver Certification Board of Canada in 2011 further underscores our significant contributions to the underwater industry.

Dr. McFarlane’s lifetime of achievements are a driving force for ISE as we strive for excellence in the field of subsea robotics. His legacy continues to inspire our team to go above and beyond for our clients and community. 

Forward Vision | “It’s 0 Dawn 30 and the sun is coming up.”

Building on the vision of James McFarlane, ISE continues to push the boundaries of what is possible in underwater robotics and submersibles, while also promoting sustainability, fostering industry collaboration, and delivering innovative solutions.

With a commitment to excellence and a passion for exploring the depths of the ocean, ISE continues to be a leader in the field of underwater technology, contributing to the advancement of marine technology. 

Apr 13, 2023

International Submarine Engineering and Hedgehog Technologies Set to Showcase at Offshore Technology Conference 2023

International Submarine Engineering and Hedgehog Technologies are teaming up to showcase at the Offshore Technology Conference 2023 from May 1-4! We’ll be at Booth 2121 (Canadian Pavilion), where you can meet our teams.

Experience the latest advancements in underwater robotics and subsea systems including ISE’s Hysub ROV and Explorer AUV. Our experts will be available to provide a firsthand look at how our technologies are shaping the future of the offshore industry.

To schedule a meeting, simply use the link provided to confirm a time and date.

If you have any questions, please contact us at in**@is*.ca. We can’t wait to meet you at Offshore Technology Conference 2023!

About Offshore Technology Conference 2023

The Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) is where energy professionals meet to exchange ideas and opinions to advance scientific and technical knowledge for offshore resources and environmental matters.

– Date: May 1-4, 2023
– Location: Houston, Texas (NRG Park)
– Website: