Fugro Orders First-of-Its-Kind XL Class USV for North Sea Operations

Credit: SEA-KIT
Credit: SEA-KIT

Dutch geodata firm Fugro has ordered an uncrewed surface vessel of SEA-KIT XL Class for future North Sea operations. 

According to USV maker SEA-KIT, the 18-meter USV, to be named Blue Eclipse, will be the first of its kind, and will be constructed 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 will have a 7-tonne payload capacity and powerful bollard pull, making it suitable for towing spreads and larger sensors. 

Per SEA-KIT, 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, the company said.

Ivar de Josselin de Jong, Director Remote Inspection at Fugro, said: "This order is an exciting next step in the rollout 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 centers (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.” 

Work will start on the hull of the 18m USV in March with delivery scheduled for early 2023.  

According to information on SEA-KIT's website, its adaptable, uncrewed and remotely-controlled USVs enable over-the-horizon deployment of systems and sensors for many commercial use cases, including maritime logistics, environmental management, marine inspection, and ocean floor surveys.

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