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UK partners create autonomous ship training centre

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The Royal Navy, SeaBot XR and the UK’s National Oceanography Centre have signed an MoU to create the National Centre for Operational Excellence in Marine Robotics.

The centre will be based in Southampton and will serve as an operations and training centre for Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) for both civilian and military use.

The signatories will create a training entity to fill a gap in the European market, meeting the requirements for marine robotics training, which fall outside of the usual maritime training offerings and do not yet exist in Europe.

SeaBot XR’s skills management approach will form the basis of a competence-based curriculum tailored for autonomous vessels, both surface and sub-surface.

The partners said the MoU will bring a combined training and testing site where companies can test their own autonomous and remote-controlled vessels, as well as granting access to a remote operations centre and various surface and sub-surface vessels to experiment with different weather and tidal conditions, vessel features and operational practicalities.

Commodore Andrew Cree, Deputy Director Future Training of the Royal Navy said: “This new centre of excellence is a case in point and marks a pivotal change in maritime as the RN constantly seeks ways to optimise technology to support RN operations and to prepare our people with the skills required to operate new technologies, surface and sub-surface autonomous vessels being a priority. Addressing the future skills requirements in this field is a game-changer and is essential for success.”

Gordon Meadow, Founder and CEO of SeaBot XR said: “Current training available for seafarers of crewed vessels has served the industry well for decades, but many of the training methods and much of the curriculum cannot be applied to autonomous and remote vessel operations. Digitalisation is the next frontier in shipping and so requires a fresh approach to workforce training. It is vital that training is developed alongside the technology so that it serves humans to their advantage.”

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