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Thursday, May 7, 2020 

A survey vessel operated by Amsterdam-based survey company Deep BV is to be upgraded with a Sea Machines SM300 autonomous control system.

The Sea Machines system will enable remote command of the vessel, including navigation and positioning, the control of on-board auxiliaries and sensors, and ship-to-shore data flow. The vessel, operating in multiple areas of the Wadden Sea, will be commanded by personnel in the Amsterdam office.

The SM300 autonomy system is said to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of vessel operations by:

  • Shifting full-mission vessel control effort from manual to autonomy system;
  • Enabling personnel to focus less on recurring and repetitive tasks, and more on value advantages;
  • Reshaping the conventional 1:1 relationship between a survey crew and vessel;
  • Dynamically interfacing navigational control with survey software;
  • Improving vessel tracking precision over planned lines; and
  • Enhancing project planning with predicted on-water mission characteristics.

US-based Sea Machines says its system can be installed on new or existing vessels. The SM300 for Deep will allow surveyors to remotely monitor and command the vessel, or multiple autonomous vessels, from a shipboard or shore-based centre located anywhere with network connectivity. Deep will initially deploy the Sea Machines-enabled vessel on surveying the Wadden Sea, a challenging shallow body of water with tidal flats and wetlands located north of The Netherlands. Deep operators will command and control the autonomous vessel and its equipment from Deep's onshore Survey Control Room, which has already enabled minimally manned remote surveys without onboard surveyors. The new equipment will allow a transition to unmanned missions in the near future.

“Sea Machines systems are an ideal fit for commercial marine operations that require high levels of predictability, productivity and safety,” said Sea Machines CEO Michael G Johnson. “For these reasons, hydrographic survey is an exemplary use case for our autonomous-command and remote-helm control technologies. With Sea Machines installed on board, Deep will benefit from obtaining higher-quality data, more safely and at a more efficient rate with less data overlap. It’s an honour to serve innovative leader Deep with technology that helps them meet their goals and advance our industry.”

“The purpose of our Survey Control Room is to offer our clients many possibilities like ad hoc surveys, simultaneous conducted surveys operated by only one survey crew, and multi-purpose use of vessels already available in the field,” said Deep CCO Jurgen Beerens. “Besides these unparalleled flexibility advantages, it offers a time-saving option to increase efficiency and control costs towards a more sustainable future. With Sea Machines integrated on our vessel, we will soon begin to transfer tasks from the vessel to the safe working environment of the office. As well as improving safety, we will gain flexibility, continuity and quality, and we will reduce risks and our carbon footprint.”

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