USV joint venture to award unmanned surface vessel contract to reduce emissions, expenses

World Oil Staff July 18, 2023

(WO) – USV AS has contracted Astilleros Gondán shipyard to build an unmanned surface vessel (USV), capable of significantly reducing emissions and operating expenses compared to conventional vessels utilized for subsea inspection, maintenance and repair (IMR) work.

USV AS is a joint venture company established by DeepOcean, Solstad Offshore and Østensjø, whose main purpose is to invest and own USVs.

It is estimated that the USV solution can reduce CO2-emissions with more than 90% compared to a conventional offshore vessel when conducting subsea IMR operations.

30 days without refueling. The JV concept development for the USV began in 2018, and has been conducted in close collaboration with clients, Salt Ship Design, technology providers and the relevant authorities to enhance the capabilities of the USV. Maritime Robotics will deliver the system that enables auto remote control and navigation for the USV. 

The USV is 24 meters long and 7.5 meters wide. A hybrid diesel-electric propulsion system, which also includes a battery package from Seam, will allow the unmanned vessel to operate offshore for up to 30 days without charging or refueling. It will be equipped with a work ROV that is capable of operating down to 1,500 metres water depth.

The USV will be remotely controlled from shore – but will have many autonomous features to ensure safety and integrity of the spread. It can operate in severe weather conditions. During operations, both the USV vessel crew and ROV operators will be co-located in the same remote operating center.

Håvard Framnes, Investment Director at Østensjø, said, “It is fantastic that we are able to provide new technology to the market that not only reduces emissions significantly, but also reduces costs and increases safety in offshore operations. This shows that the Norwegian offshore cluster is at the forefront of the energy transition. We have good experience in doing business with Solstad Offshore and DeepOcean, and we are pleased to grow the cooperation with this new winning technology.”

Novel launch and recovery solution. To increase the USVs workable weather window, it is equipped with a newly developed launch and recovery system which allows for work class ROVs to be operated from relatively small vessels, such as the USV.

In addition to the ROV, the USV will be equipped with a sizeable tool package to perform subsea operations. The USV will be capable of handling most of all subsea inspection work and a significant part of subsea intervention tasks.

Lars Peder Solstad, CEO of Solstad Offshore comments, “In practice, this concept represents a step change in offshore operations. The collective expertise between the three JV partners, and our experience from the harsh environment of the North Sea, has allowed us to design this technology solution that can operate offshore for up to 30 days.” 

In operation from 2025. Astilleros Gondán has been contracted to build the USV on behalf of USV AS. Delivery of the USV is expected by the end of 2024. The plan is that the USV, following offshore testing, will be ready for operations in 2025.

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