Reach Subsea, Kongsberg developing unmanned mother ships for ROVs

For the past 18 months, Reach Subsea has been developing new and future-proof, sustainable solutions for subsea services.

The project, named Reach Remote, is carried out in cooperation with industrial partners Kongsberg Maritime and Massterly, and is also supported by a grant from Innovation Norway.

The first stage of Reach Remote is to introduce unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) dedicated to survey, inspection, and light repair projects. These USVs will serve as mobile power banks, data centres, and communication modules for underwater remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), with both the USVs and ROVs operated from an onshore control centre.

Features for both real-time operator control and autonomous operations will be incorporated, as well as hybrid modes blending remote and semi-autonomous control.

The goal is to be in the market with the first two USVs in 2022, with the ambition of providing a full portfolio of subsea services from a low-emission, cost-effective remote and autonomous fleet by 2025.

The project partners claim that its key benefits, compared to equivalent solutions using a full-scale subsea vessel, are: 1) more than 90 per cent reduction in CO2 and NOx emissions; 2) virtual elimination of the personnel risk associated with offshore operations; and 3) significant reductions in the cost of subsea survey and inspection services.

The project will develop USVs of 25 metres LOA that will operate as mother ships for ROVs. The current design is based on a redundant hybrid electric configuration and will be capable of 30 days or more endurance for most operations, ensuring efficiency and operational flexibility.

The USV will be optimised for very low energy consumption and a minimal carbon footprint.


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