The first USV is expected to be delivered to Fugro in Perth, Australia, in Q4 2020 and will be used in conjunction with remotely operated underwater vessels to conduct completely uncrewed pipeline inspections in up to 400 m water depth on Australia’s North West Shelf; the second delivery to Fugro in Aberdeen is scheduled for Q1 2021.
“This order cements Fugro’s strategy to lead the development of remote and autonomous solutions, which is key to delivering a safer, more sustainable and more efficient approach to the construction and maintenance of marine assets,” commented Ivar de Josselin de Jong, director of Remote Inspection at Fugro.
“Integration of the new USVs into our global network of remote operation centres (ROCs) will allow us to provide our clients with an entirely remote-controlled inspection solution for the first time in history,” he added, with potential applications in “the rapidly growing offshore wind sector” as well as the oil and gas industry.
A partnership between UK-based SEA-KIT and Fugro was first announced in March this year, under which multiple newbuilds are envisaged including the design and build of a larger 24 m Omega-class USV in 2021.
SEA-KIT previously carried out the first commercial crossing of the North Sea by an autonomous craft when a 12 m USV delivered a box of native oysters from the company’s coastal base in Essex to Ostend, Belgium in May 2019.
“This [Fugro] order, our first for the delivery of a vessel for commercial use, is a real milestone for the team,” commented Ben Simpson, ceo of SEA-KIT, which he said pointed towards “an industry shift towards uncrewed operations and the commitment of key industry players to reducing the carbon footprint of commercial offshore operations.”
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