UK builder unveils new series of hybrid-electric unmanned vessels

Pioneer class ACUA Ocean
Rendering of a Pioneer-class USVACUA Ocean

UK maritime technology company ACUA Ocean has unveiled a new series of unmanned surface vehicles (USVs). The series will be known as the Pioneer-class, the first example of which is being built at Aluminium Marine Consultants on the Isle of Wight and will be named USV Pioneer.

Future vessels in the class will be named after leading pioneers in the fields of exploration, science, and technology. Each craft will feature a hybrid-electric propulsion system and will be built ready to receive either a gaseous hydrogen or a low-emission diesel powertrain dependent on end-user specifications or mission parameters.

ACUA Ocean said the 14-metre Pioneer-class was recently granted a UK patent for the inventiveness of the modular small waterplane area twin hull (SWATH) design, which enables both modularity of build and the deployment of modular sensor and system payloads. Research conducted by the University of Southampton, including wave tank testing and digital simulations, show the USV has improved seakeeping stability compared to a monohull vessel three times its length and 10 times its displacement.

ACUA Ocean is also developing a 24-metre, long-endurance high-powered USV called Maelstrom. The larger craft will deliver enhanced and scalable capabilities for a range of commercial and defence customers. USV Pioneer is scheduled to commence sea trials in the fourth quarter of 2024, whilst Maelstrom is scheduled to enter service in 2026.

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Baird Maritime / Work Boat World