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BV AND FRENCH FLAG SUPPORT REMOTE OFFSHORE SHIP PROJECT

Wednesday, September 16, 2020 

Bureau Veritas (BV) has been working with the French flag to support and enable SeaOwl’s innovative remote-operated vessel project, ROSS (Remotely Operated Services at Sea), for which the concept and capability were recently demonstrated by SeaOwl.

The ROSS retrofitted, Bureau Veritas classed, supply ship VN Rebel was operated by a SeaOwl captain based in Paris. The Paris captain was able to take and maintain command of the VN Rebel navigating off the French Mediterranean port of Toulon with full remote control of the ship. The VN Rebel was sailing with the required authorisations from the French flag ensuring compliance with the IMO resolution for the trial of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS). This is the first time that this resolution has been applied in France to a ship of this size.

BV provided a reference framework and risk analysis - based on its own guidance for autonomous shipping (NI 641), to develop a means for the French maritime administration to approve the ROSS concept as per IMO MSC.1/Circ. 1455 for alternative designs. BV’s detailed risk analysis and marine experts assessed the systems’ critical functions to help demonstrate equivalence with traditional maritime convention requirements for safe navigation and operations as required under SOLAS.

The analysis addressed the resilience of the communications link provided by Marlink (a partner in the project), the remote operation of watch-keeping, and communications functions. The analysis included the corresponding remote operations of the machinery including engine, dynamic positioning (DP) provided by Sirehna (another partner in the project) and the cybersecurity of the system. During the test, in addition to proving the availability of remote navigation functions (steering, visual watch, VHF, anti-collision manoeuvres, etc.), the SeaOwl crew demonstrated responses to several scenarios including a weather incident, resulting in the loss of communications connectivity, and a cybersecurity attack with the detection of a GPS blurring.

Following this successful demonstration, the next step for SeaOwl is to validate the concept of ROSS onboard a newbuilding designed to provide services to offshore platforms.

Jean-Baptiste Gillet, Advanced Services Director, BV Marine & Offshore, said: "It is a pleasure to test our guidance (NI 641) in a concrete project like ROSS. It confirms the need to have a thorough risk assessment of the different remotely operated functions, identifying all potential operational scenarios and challenges. One of the challenges for would-be MASS operators and flag administrations has been to find a way to provide a compliance pathway and ensure confidence in both regulator and the regulated. The success of the ROSS project is full of promise as to the quality of future relations between actors and authorities for future developments."

The Department of Maritime Affairs (DAM – the French Ministry for the Sea) has supported this project from inception, and has assisted in development of a methodology that ensures a high level of safety and allows the certification of the first remotely operated vessel in France.

Vincent Boutteau, MD SeaOwl Group said: ‘Recognised as crucial from day 1 of the project by SeaOwl, safety and compliance have been successfully tackled through MSC.1/Circ. 1455 methodology with the support of BV. The in-depth risk analysis that have been carried out with BV, and a pool of experts gathered by the French Flag authority have significantly improved the initial design to guarantee now full safety and compliance of the tele-operation platform.’

 

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