Offshore services operator SeaOwl has launched a new Remotely Operated Service at Sea (ROSS) offering, which aims to reduce the cost of ship operations by remotely controlling a vessel from shore.
SeaOwl successfully demonstrated the concept to strategic partners including French energy major Total in early September. The ROSS service will initially be aimed at the offshore sector but could also potentially apply to other civilian and military craft, the company said.
The project team had been working closely with France’s Directorate of Maritime Affairs in order to secure the navigation license necessary for a demonstration voyage and has now achieved the regulatory acceptance needed to operate without crew onboard.
The connectivity and control system for the remote control infrastructure has been supplied by Marlink, and includes a Sealink VSAT system with three antennas, dual satellite feeds and dual below decks equipment.
A customised dashboard interface for the ROSS system has been created to monitor key performance indicators on the satellite link, including latency, jitter and throughput. Bureau Veritas has also been involved in the project to ensure compliance with statutory requirements.
“Unlike an autonomous vessel, the vessel’s crew will pilot the ship from land to achieve cost savings and minimise a range of operational risks for 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.”
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 R&D investment.
With regulatory approval in place, SeaOwl says that it plans to begin taking its first vessel orders and hopes to build around 20 remotely operated, electrically powered ships between 2023 and 2028, to be used for underwater inspections of oil and gas fields and windfarms.