VESSEL REVIEW | Fugro Orca – USV built for offshore inspection and hydrographic survey work

VESSEL REVIEW | Fugro Orca – USV built for offshore inspection and hydrographic survey work

Photo: Fugro

Netherlands-based offshore services company Fugro recently introduced a new unmanned surface vehicle (USV) to its fleet of inspection and survey vessels.

Fugro Orca was designed and built by UK-based unmanned systems specialist Sea-Kit International to serve a broad range of duties including offshore inspection, construction support, and hydrographic and geophysical surveys in both nearshore and deepwater environments. The craft’s modular design allows it to accommodate various combinations of payloads to effectively provide support within the offshore energy sector and other industries.

The USV has an LOA of 11.75 metres, a beam of 2.2 metres, and a draught of 2.6 metres. Its size enables it to fit inside a standard 20-foot container for rapid mobilisation.

Two 18kW generators provide power for the craft’s electric directional thrust motors to propel it to a survey speed of four knots. This low operating speed translates into a remarkably long maximum endurance of 30 days, which allows the USV to conduct sustained survey and inspection operations.

The craft’s electronics include a Simrad radar, an AI-based collision avoidance system, Teledyne and Kongsberg Maritime echosounders, a Sonardyne acoustic underwater positioning sensor, and navigation and positioning sensors that were developed in-house by Fugro. The electronics draw power from a separate battery pack, allowing the generators to be used exclusively for propulsion.

Photo: van Rijn

Satellite communication allows over-the-horizon control of the USV to be executed remotely from Fugro’s operation centres anywhere in the world, though shorter distances will utilise 4G, wi-fi, or VHF communications depending on availability.

The ability of the craft to transfer data in near-real-time via cloud-based processing will enable personnel at a shore station to immediately analyse and interpret data without having to mobilise offshore and spend time on complex logistics operations.

Alternatively, the collision avoidance system will permit the craft to operate in fully autonomous mode for long-endurance missions such as surveys in harsh offshore environments.

The USV itself is also designed to function as a mothership for a smaller Fugro electric-powered, camera-equipped remotely operated vehicle (ROV), which is to be used for inspections at depths of as much as 450 metres.

Fugro said that besides ensuring the obvious benefit of significantly reduced risk to human crews, the USV also guarantees fuel consumption levels of as much as 95 per cent compared to conventional vessels. This will then make extended-duration surveys and inspections more sustainable.

Fugro Orca will soon mobilise for its initial operational deployment, a survey campaign in the North Sea out of the Port of Rotterdam.

Click here for more vessel reviews, features, and news stories as part of this month’s Unmanned Craft Week.

Fugro Orca
Type of vessel: USV – Inspection and survey
Flag: UK
Owner: Fugro, Netherlands
Builder: Sea-Kit International, UK
Length overall: 11.75 metres
Beam: 2.2 metres
Draught: 2.6 metres
Capacity: Fugro remotely operated vehicle
Generators: 2 x 18 kW
Cruising speed: 4.0 knots
Radar: Simrad
Depth sounders: Teledyne; Kongsberg Maritime
Other electronics: Intellian; collision avoidance system; Sonardyne acoustic underwater positioning sensor; Fugro

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