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SEA MACHINES TO STUDY AUTONOMOUS AIR REFUELLING BARGES FOR US MILITARY

Wednesday, September 9, 2020 

Sea Machines Robotics of Boston, US, has been awarded a multi-year Other Transaction (OT) agreement by the US Department of Defense (DOD)ís Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), to initiate a prototype that will enable commercial ocean-service barges as autonomous Forward Arming and Refuelling Point (FARP) units for an Amphibious Maritime Projection Platform (AMPP).

Under the agreement, Sea Machines will engineer, build and demonstrate ready-to-deploy system kits that enable autonomous, self-propelled operation of opportunistically available barges to land and replenish military aircraft. The kits will include Sea Machines’ SM300 autonomous-command and control systems, barge propulsion, sensing, positioning, communications and refuelling equipment, as well as items required for global deployment. Each modular kit will meet US Navy criteria and will be in compliance with classifications and regulations from the DOD’s aviation bodies.

The contract includes a concept demonstration phase, with an option for following phases to deploy SM300 Operational Kits. For the live concept demonstration Sea Machines has teamed with Foss Maritime which will provide naval architecture, support engineering and operations management to outfit a remotely commanded deck barge to land helicopters and host a scaled fuelling station for aircraft, surface vessels and shore replenishment. Other organisations involved include Huntington Ingalls and Bell Flight.

Sea Machines sales director Phil Bourque said: “The AMPP autonomous replenishment systems will solve critical logistics challenges of expeditionary missions. We are pleased to enable this innovative capability, which will increase the effectiveness and flexibility for the US military. With Sea Machines systems already working off the waters of four continents, this project is well suited for us and one that we look forward to delivering on for the US Government.”

“Foss is excited about this new opportunity with Sea Machines. This contract has led to discussions with Sea Machines in a number of other areas where their expertise can help Foss, including bringing more technology to our tug fleet. What they are doing in automation is very interesting and that technology could help our mariners and our vessels safety," said Foss COO Will Roberts.

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