Unmanned vessel control centre opens in Antwerp

Belgium-based Seafar, a ship management company focused on operating unmanned and crew-reduced vessels for ship owners and shipping companies, has officially opened its newly designed Shore Control Center (SCC) in Antwerp.

The facility consists of six control stations and two traffic control structures, capable of operating 20 vessels. Currently, the SCC operates 12 vessels, with Seafar claiming that it is the first fully operational SCC for inland shipping world-wide.

Licensed captains at the centre can take control over inland vessels several kilometres away, supported by autonomous technologies and artificial intelligence to maximise efficiency and safety in operations and allow the vessel to navigate semi-autonomously with a reduced onboard crew.

In January, it was announced that RensenDriessen Shipbuilding in the Netherlands is to begin construction of ten semi-autonomous dry cargo and container ‘River Drones’ for an unnamed Belgian shipowner, to be operated with Seafar technology and a hybrid propulsion system.

“From a Seafar Control Centre, the ships are safely guided through the water. Optimal vessel performance is achieved through increased navigation time and optimised crew efficiency. This is a first step in what we believe is the future,” said Wim Driessen, owner of RensenDriessen Shipbuilding.

“The construction of the first three hulls has just started in China and they will arrive in the Netherlands in the second quarter of 2022. The seven remaining hulls will follow in 2022.”

The 106m vessels will be finished by Asto Shipyard in the Netherlands, in cooperation with various partners.

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Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He also serves as Chairman of the Smart Maritime Council. Rob has worked in the maritime technology sector since 2005, managing editorial for a range of leading publications in the transport and logistics sector. Get in touch by email by clicking here, or on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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