French offshore industry vessel operator Bourbon has agreed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Automated Ships Limited (ASL) to support the building of the world’s first autonomous, fully-automated and cost-efficient prototype vessel for offshore operations.
The project, which ASL launched with Kongsberg last year, will see the development of a light-duty, offshore utility ship to service the offshore energy, hydrographic & scientific and offshore fish-farming industries.
It could also be used as a ROV and AUV support ship and standby vessel, able to provide firefighting support to an offshore platform working in cooperation with manned vessels.
Bourbon and ASL are to join forces to secure the subsidies to finance the effective construction of a prototype vessel, called Hrönn.
ASL had foreseen a catamaran style design, but, since project launch in November 2016, has opted for a steel monohulled vessel, to provide more payload capacity and greater flexibility in the diverse range of operations.
Bourbon's entry to the Hrönn project comes after the firm joined forces with Kongsberg to develop digital solutions for next generation connected and autonomous vessels. The two companies will execute joint projects to develop new ways of efficient operations in the offshore services industry, with a fast time-to market.
Hrönn’s Sea trials will take place in Norway’s officially designated automated vessel test bed in the Trondheim fjord and will be conducted under the auspices of DNV GL and the Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA). The Hrönn will ultimately be classed and flagged, respectively.
“We are pleased to be collaborating with such expert partners in the development of Hrönn, a vessel that will show how digitalization and autonomy have the potential to revolutionize the offshore services market,” said Stene Førsund, EVP Global Sales and Marketing, Kongsberg Maritime.