SeaOwl successfully demonstrated the concept to strategic partners including French energy major Total in early September. The ROSS project aims to bring down the cost of operations by remotely controlling a vessel from shore, initially in the offshore sector with potential application to other civilian and military craft.
The project has focused first on achieving the regulatory acceptance needed to operate without crew onboard. This has involved close work with France’s Directorate of Maritime Affairs in order to secure the navigation license necessary for a demonstration voyage.
Marlink and SeaOwl held several engineering workshops to create a highly resilient and redundant connectivity and control system comprising a Sealink VSAT system with three antennas, dual satellite feeds and dual below decks equipment. The system features a unique customized dashboard interface for the ROSS system to monitor link key performance indicators including latency, jitter and throughput.
The installation is built on a backbone of state-of-the-art technology and leverages Marlink’s expertise in cyber security and network resilience, working closely in co-operation with Bureau Veritas ensuring compliance to meet statutory requirements.
SeaOwl was founded three years ago by former merchant navy officer Xavier Genin, in partnership with state environmental promotion body ADEME which financed 50% of the 4 million euros R&D investment. With regulatory approval in place SeaOwl plans to make its first vessel orders and ultimately build around 20 remotely operated, electrically powered ships between 2023 and 2028, which will be used for underwater inspections of oil and gas fields and windfarms.
“Unlike an autonomous vessel, the vessel’s crew will pilot the ship from land to achieve cost savings and minimize a range of operational risks safer operations,” said SeaOwl CEO Xavier Genin. “There are already remote-controlled or autonomous military ships, but we are the first to obtain the ‘grey card’ which gives us permission to sail as a merchant navy vessel.”
“Our cutting edge SATCOM engineering expertise and intelligent hybrid network that enables the digitization of our customers’ remote operations makes Marlink a natural partner for the most innovative projects in the industry,” added Erik Ceuppens, Marlink Group CEO. “Our focus on close cooperation and co-creation with our customers enables us to go above and beyond in delivering solutions that meet the most demanding operation environments.”