Welcome to Unmanned Craft Week!

Welcome to Unmanned Craft Week!

Photo: SeaRobotics

This is probably the fastest evolving sector of the whole maritime industry. Crew shortages and a growing unwillingness to spend long periods at sea are affecting the commercial sector and a reluctance to waste highly trained personnel is encouraging the military to look ever more closely at the possibilities of unmanned vessels.

Over the past few years it would be a rare week that passes without something about unmanned systems crossing our desks at Baird Maritime. At such an early stage of development, much of it, of course, is fanciful but some is practical and sensible. The United States Navy, as one of the world’s biggest shipowners, is studying the subject very closely and experimenting extensively. It is also generously distributing and contributing its knowledge to the wider maritime industry.

Unmanned Surface Vehicles • Unmanned Underwater Vehicles • Remotely Operated Vehicles

Navies and coastguards are on a steep learning curve but, at least they are learning and many practical results are starting to be seen with unmanned air, surface and submersible “vehicles”. They are all, in their own ways, lifesavers, in that their pilots or “operators” are able to work in comfort and safety a long way from the battlefront.

In the commercial field, too, much research and experimentation is being conducted. Starting, most effectively with USVs or UUVs in the offshore oil and gas business, such craft are now in widespread use. Their design, construction and operation have now become highly refined. They enable work to be done where human beings cannot safely go.

Regular readers will have seen frequent articles published on Baird Maritime presenting the latest developments in this fascinating field of maritime endeavour. The coming week will be little different except that there will simply be more of it. Some of the developments are real breakthroughs but, mostly, they are simply the result of dogged research work. The classification societies are doing a lot of it, often in conjunction with industry and academia.

It’s all very exciting and interesting, so read on.

Vessel Reviews:

Features and Opinion:

FEATURE | Demonstrator tug completes 1,000-nautical-mile voyage on fully autonomous mode

– “The journey spanned 129 operational hours over 13 days and was commanded by licensed mariners remotely stationed 3,000 miles away in Boston.”

FEATURE | Challenging autonomous gliders in coastal seas

– “One aim of the mission was to challenge current navigational methodology, which requires continuous supervision and intervention from human pilots.”

News and Gear:

Recent Important Features:

COLUMN | Everything you have ever lived for is in jeopardy! [Tug Times]

– “Let us hope no administration will permit full autonomy, even on a trial basis, before the laws have been changed so we all know exactly where we stand.”

– by Alan Loynd, former General Manager of the Hong Kong Salvage and Towage Company

FEATURE | The ROBOSHIP project: a new autonomous navigation system under development in Japan

– “The system has been designed to perform functions including route planning, course control, speed control, and collision avoidance.”

Remember to come back every day to see the latest news, opinion and vessel reviews!

Call for content!

Any news or views about the unmanned vessel industries? Send it through to [email protected] ASAP (between now and November 19), so we can add it to this current edition of Unmanned Craft Week!

We are after:

  • Vessels – Orders, new deliveries, under construction
  • Gear – Latest innovations and technology in the unmanned vessel sector
  • Interviews – Owners, operators, research organisations, etc.
  • Reminiscences – Do you have any exciting, amusing or downright dangerous anecdotes from your time in the unmanned vessel world? (example here)
  • Other – Any other relevant news

Neil Baird

Co-founder and former Editor-in-Chief of Baird Maritime and Work Boat World magazine, Neil has travelled the length and breadth of this planet in over 40 years in the business. He knows the global work boat industry better than anyone. A globally recognised expert on ferry safety, his doctoral thesis “Fatal Ferry Accidents, Their Causes and Prevention”, is still widely considered to be the bible on the subject.