Marine dredging and installation services contractor Jan De Nul Group has ordered Maritime Robotic's Mariner Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) as the first step towards unmanned and autonomous offshore survey operations.
Named Beluga 01, after the Beluga whale, this vessel will sail under the Luxembourg flag and be deployed for worldwide hydrographical and environmental surveys on marine and offshore construction projects.
"By choosing unmanned surveys and by opting for the Mariner class USV, Jan De Nul fully commits to improved safety and operational control during its survey activities, reduced carbon emissions, and more efficient data acquisition," Jan De Nul said.
According to Jan De Nul, the Beluga 01 is equipped with a fully redundant hybrid propulsion system. The prime source of propulsion is a diesel engine that is mechanically coupled to the water jet. Alternatively, the vessel can be operated in full electrical mode. The additional electrical Torqeedo propulsion, installed parallel to the main propulsion, can maneuver the vessel in sensitive marine areas.
There is also a range extender module to top up the batteries which will operate longer than 12 hours. This system has lower emissions than the main engine, which could also be used as an alternator for the batteries, the company said. Also, the electrical propulsion acts as redundancy for the main engine in case of a failure, or vice versa.
The Beluga 01 is capable of operating in up to sea state five, although this usually precludes gathering any useful survey data. The vessel can survive in up to sea state seven. The Beluga 01 only needs 80 cm of water to operate in.
The USV offers autonomy of up to 50 hours and has a redundant communication setup with a range of up to 30 km. It also fits in a container for easy transport
Mike Lycke, Survey Manager Offshore Projects at Jan De Nul Group: “For several years, we have been studying different autonomous systems. Our primary focus has always been to build up our expertise on autonomy for maritime survey operations. The global circumstances in 2020 and a maturing USV market enabled us to take it to the next step and order a turnkey vessel for our marine and offshore projects. We found the perfect partner in Maritime Robotics, a leading provider of innovative unmanned solutions for maritime operations and data acquisition.”
In other Jan De Nul Related news, the company said Monday that its next-gen offshore jack-up installation vessel for offshore renewables and decommissioning had been launched at the COSCO Shipping Shipyard in Nantong, China.