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Tuesday, July 7, 2020 

C-Job Naval Architects, in conjunction with a consortium of other companies, has unveiled a concept design for a fully autonomous vessel intended to guard offshore by alerting any intruding vessel and guiding it away from the protected installation.

The vessel is smaller and lighter than most current guard vessels used to protect offshore operations and boasts sustainable solutions as well as exploiting the benefits of autonomous shipping. The Autonomous Guard Vessel (AGV) is designed for efficient operation as well as reducing operating costs due to no crew being required.

The project group is facilitated by community for maritime professionals LISA. The consortium behind the design includes SeaZip Offshore Service, Sea Machines, MARIN and eL-Tec elektrotechniek as well as C-Job. The AGV is designed for surveillance of offshore structures  ranging from wind farms to substation platforms and cable routes. With any area that needs to be secured, the AGV can continuously monitor nearby marine traffic visually as well as via radar and AIS data. With any vessel that approaches the area, measures will be taken to secure the area in order to avoid collisions and damage to the offshore infrastructure. An intruding vessel can be communicated with and will receive information on how to safely navigate the area as well as being physically escorted away from the site by the AGV. Additionally, the encounter will be recorded to provide video footage in case of any violation or accident.

Pelle de Jong, Founding Partner LISA, said: “Guard vessels perform an essential job, however, it is not the most exciting one for crew. Combined with the fact that conventional guard vessels are mostly outdated and thus aren’t necessarily the most comfortable let alone sustainable, it can be difficult to find well-trained crew willing to do the job.”

As crew accommodation is eliminated, meaning the ship will be considerably smaller than existing guard vessels. The smaller size permits more sustainable battery-powered propulsion.

Rolph Hijdra, Autonomous Research Lead, C-Job Naval Architects, said: “We are pleased we were able to develop a battery-powered design, ensuring the Autonomous Guard Vessel is free of harmful emissions. Additionally, the ship has solar panels across the top which allows for the continuation of navigation and communications in case the batteries run out of power. Contrary to current guard vessels, the AGV will continue to be operational even with rough sea conditions and have minimal underwater noise owing to the smaller size, reduced propulsion requirements and absence of a diesel engine.”

The AGV will recharge its batteries via a charging station, which is moored independently or connected to existing equipment onsite.

For any exceptional circumstances when human intervention would be required, the AGV is connected to a Command Centre which could control the AGV remotely and collect data collected by the AGV.

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