VESSEL REVIEW | High-speed USV for German survey company

Photo: Themann

Subsea Europe Services (SES), a subsea data acquisition company headquartered in Hamburg, recently took delivery of a new unmanned surface vehicle (USV) optimised for marine data acquisition.

Built by Melbourne, Florida-based Maritime Tactical Systems (Martac Systems), the USV will be operated by German company Nicola Offshore, which specialises in surveys for customers in the offshore oil, gas, and renewables markets.

The craft has a length of 3.6 metres and a maximum speed of 37 knots. The high speed means the vessel can sail to and from distant survey sites under its own power, thus reducing the need for motherships or other dedicated transit platforms.

The USV is fitted with a Teledyne FLIR rotating camera and SES’ proprietary integrated hydroacoustic survey system, though other payloads may be easily integrated and removed thanks to the modular design. Systems with redundancy and waterproof components are incorporated in the hull while redundancy was built in the communications architecture.

Photo: Martac Systems

The USV’s lightweight construction enables it to be deployed from any vessel with even a small deck crane, reducing the logistical requirements of operators. A draught of just 0.178 metres and all-electric propulsion allow for operation in more restrictive waters with sensitive ecosystems.

The USV has the ability to conduct hydrographic surveys to the International Hydrographic Organisation’s (IHO) S-44 exclusive order standards even under harsh conditions and strong currents. Self-righting ability was also incorporated in the design, making operation possible even under Sea State three conditions.

The design emphasises the use of commercial off the shelf components to ensure low maintenance requirements. In comparison to the process of mobilising a crewed and expert-staffed survey vessel, deployment of the SES USV can be accomplished in less time and with fewer resources to guarantee greater operational flexibility.

The craft is also designed to accommodate equipment upgrades, such as multibeam echosounders that will enable high-precision data to be collected at speeds of around 16 knots whereas average survey speeds are limited to six knots. The improvement in capability will enable the USV to survey considerably larger areas in less time.

Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) will meanwhile allow the USV to adjust its own survey plan according to the real-time data it receives from the onboard hydroacoustic and positioning systems.

The craft may sail on fully autonomous, semi-autonomous, or full operator control modes.

Photo: Themann

Click here for more news stories, feature articles, and vessel reviews as part of this month’s focus on unmanned craft.

3.6-metre Autonomous Surveyor
Type of vessel:USV – Survey
Owner:Subsea Europe Services, Germany
Operator:Nicola Offshore, Germany
Builder:Maritime Tactical Systems, USA
Length overall:3.6 metres
Draught:0.178 metres
Maximum speed:37 knots
Camera:Teledyne FLIR
Other electronics:Subsea Europe Services hydrographic survey system

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