SEA-KIT and Fugro ink contract for next generation 18m USV

World leading Geo-data specialist, Fugro, has ordered a SEA-KIT XL Class Uncrewed Surface Vessel (USV) for future North Sea operations. The 18m USV, the first of its kind, will be built at SEA-KIT’s expanding UK production facility on the Essex coast.

“Following the successful delivery and award-winning operations of the 12m vessels built so far for Fugro, we are delighted to announce this order for the first, larger SEA-KIT XL Class USV,” said SEA-KIT CEO Ben Simpson. “The XL design is a result of industry collaboration aimed at overcoming the complex challenges of effective uncrewed operations at long range in heavy seas. Our 18m USV will push the boundaries of robustness and versatility, meeting the increased challenges of endurance, communications and station keeping head on.”

The SEA-KIT XL USV has a 7-tonne payload capacity and powerful bollard pull, making it suitable for towing spreads and larger sensors. The vessel can launch and recover a wide variety of remotely operated vehicles and payloads, has fully redundant station holding capability, Cat 0 operations for unrestricted use and a large lithium UPS supply for ship systems.

This build will feature the latest developments in uncrewed systems technology, including the next generation of SEA-KIT’s proven proprietary remote helm USV control and surveillance platform, G-SAVI.

Ivar de Josselin de Jong, Director Remote Inspection at Fugro, said: “This order is an exciting next step in the roll out of Fugro’s remote and autonomous strategy and the development of our global USV fleet. The Blue Eclipse is the first 18m USV in an anticipated global series of long endurance and more capable USVs that will be deployed in the offshore energy sector with comparable ROV inspection performance to regular DP2 vessels. Equipped with the Fugro Blue Amp electric eROV and being operated from one of our nine global remote operations centres (ROC), we will be able to support our clients in achieving safer and more efficient data collection operations, whilst contributing to our mutual carbon footprint reduction ambitions.”

Fugro and SEA-KIT formed their ongoing partnership in March 2020, with a joint remit to improve safety and efficiency and to reduce the environmental impact of offshore operations. Work will start on the hull of the 18m USV in March with delivery scheduled for early 2023.

SEA-KIT recently sponsored the virtual Maritime Autonomous Systems Regulatory Conference, with Robert Courts MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport, as keynote speaker. Themed ‘The Reality of MASS’, this year’s event focused on developments made in the commercial and defence maritime sectors and sparked in-depth discussion on how autonomous vessels are now providing realistic opportunities to achieve net zero emissions in shipping.