A laser-based illumination system that can be incorporated into the existing underwater viewing system of current remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) has been investigated. A stripe of projected laser light is scanned over the target and resultant image frames are processed and combined to produce a computer generated composite image. Initially, the system was characterized through trials in the underwater optical test facility at Cranfield where water conditions are easily controlled. Subsequently, further work was carried out on a self- contained underwater unit at a flooded quarry in Leicestershire. Several advantages of this technique have been identified from the laboratory and field trials. Scanning the laser source allows greater control of the lighting envelope resulting in more optically uniform images. Contrast improvements of 300% and range improvements of 50% over orthodox systems have been measured. The use of image processing allows a greater degree of flexibility in image presentation and because this methodology is based on a standard underwater camera, it is complementary and can be fitted retrospectively at relatively low cost.