Industry consortium develops autonomous guard vessel concept

The battery-powered vessel, which also features solar panels to support recharging, is designed for the surveillance of offshore structures such as wind farms and substation platforms.

The concept for an autonomous guard vessel was realised by a project group facilitated by LISA, a community for maritime professionals. The project group then developed into an industry consortium which includes C-Job Naval Architects, SeaZip Offshore Service, Sea Machines, MARIN and eL-Tec elektrotechniek BV.

The Autonomous Guard Vessel (AGV) can continuously monitor nearby marine traffic visually as well as via radar and AIS data. With any vessel that approaches the guarded area, measures would be taken to secure the area in order to avoid collisions and damage to the offshore infrastructure.

An intruding vessel would receive information on how to safely navigate the area as well as being physically escorted away from the site by the Autonomous Guard Vessel. The encounter would be recorded to provide video footage in case of any violation or accident.

Pelle de Jong, Founding Partner LISA, commented on the initiative: ‘The group set out to improve upon the overall process of securing an offshore area while incorporating sustainable solutions and reducing overall cost.

‘By utilising the knowledge we have as a group as well as the technology already available, we succeeded in creating a design which does this and more.’

Rolph Hijdra, Autonomous Research Lead at C-Job Naval Architects, also noted: ‘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 Autonomous Guard Vessel will recharge its batteries via a charging station which could be moored independently or connected to existing equipment onsite.

Depending on the situation, charging could either be via a cable connection to the on-site equipment, such as an offshore transformer platform, or locally generated using renewable fuels.

Lesley Bankes-Hughes

Lesley Bankes-Hughes