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TRANSPORT: Could unmanned shipping be the future for international trade?

SEA-KIT, Hushcraft,

Could unmanned shipping be the future for international trade? Well Essex based Hushcraft the company behind the design and development of the USV Maxlimer the World´s first totally unmanned commercial ship operated by SEA-KIT International, certainly think so.

Last week saw the first successful deployment of SeaKit International a 12 metre long USV [unscrewed surface vessel] from Mersea in the UK to the Belgian port of Oostende in the world's first unmanned commercial shipping operation by an "autonomous vessel" heralding a significant
breakthrough in unscrewed ocean transit.


The mission was designed to showcase Sea-Kit´s navigation capabilities through GPS and satellite communication, including marine traffic avoidance in what is one of the world’s busiest shipping routes.

With the successful completion of the UK to Belgium mission, Sea-Kit´s voyage demonstrates an effective model for international communication and cooperation in the field of uncrewed shipping. The Global Situational Awareness via Internet (G-SAVI) communications and control system allows
an operator to remotely access CCTV footage, thermal imaging and radar through SEA-KIT, as well as listen live to the vessel’s surroundings and communicate with others in the vicinity.

The voyage was made possible with the support of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the Department for Transport, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, partners in Belgium, and the European Space Agency. With this voyage completed, the team behind the mission have now set their sights on higher goals to test the capabilities of the vessel.

Sea-Kit was developed for, and used with, the Kongsberg Maritime Hugin AUV System for the GEBCO-Nippon Foundation Alumni Team entry to the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, a global competition challenging teams to advance deep-sea technologies for autonomous, fast, high-resolution ocean exploration, funded by The Nippon Foundation of Japan, a private, non-profit foundation.

The team’s concept for efficient, safe and cost-effective seafloor mapping utilised the purpose-built Kongsberg Maritime Hugin AUV System, rated to operate at depths of up to 4,500 meters, supported by SEA-KIT, which has the ability to autonomously launch and recover the AUV and acts
as a communication link during sub-sea survey operations.

The forward capabilities of this technology is a complete game changer for the future of ocean going trade and the defence applications could be enormous.


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