Bourbon enters project to develop autonomous OSV prototype

Offshore services company Bourbon has entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Automated Ships Ltd (ASL) to support the building of the world’s first autonomous, fully-automated, prototype vessel for offshore operations.

The duo will develop the Hrönn project prototype in collaboration with the project’s primary technology partner, Kongsberg.

Bourbon will leverage its expertise in building and operating a standardized fleet to provide detailed input to the development and design of the Hrönn project to operate safely and effectively in a demanding offshore environment. In the second phase of the project, ASL and Bourbon will search subsidies to finance the construction of the prototype.

Hrönn is a light-duty, offshore utility ship which will be used to service the offshore energy, hydrographic and scientific, and offshore fish farming industries.

It can also be utilized as an ROV and AUV support ship and standby vessel, able to provide firefighting support to an offshore platform working in cooperation with manned vessels.

Automated Ships Ltd has progressed the original catamaran design of Hrönn since the project launch on November 1, 2016, opting for a monohulled vessel of steel construction, to provide more payload capacity and greater flexibility in the diverse range of operations.

Bourbon’s entry to the Hrönn project follows the company’s announcement that it joined forces with Kongsberg in a new collaboration to develop digital solutions for next generation connected and autonomous vessels.

As far as Kongsberg is concerned, it will contribute its technology expertise and deliver all major marine equipment necessary for the design, construction, and operation of Hrönn. Namely, Kongsberg will supply all systems for dynamic positioning and navigation, satellite and position reference, marine automation and communication.

Its vessel control systems including K-Pos Dynamic Positioning, K-Chief automation, and K-Bridge ECDIS will be replicated at an onshore control center, allowing full remote operations of Hrönn.

Hrönn’s Sea trials will take place in Norway’s officially designated automated vessel test bed in the Trondheim fjord and will be conducted under the auspices of DNV GL and the Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA).

Gael Bodénès, COO of Bourbon Corporation, said: “In this era of digitalization of industrial services, we are pleased to join this forward-looking project thus demonstrating the positioning of Bourbon as a world reference in terms of operational excellence and customer experience.”

“Bourbon is a world leading marine services company, and we are confident that alongside Kongsberg as technology lead, they will provide a valuable contribution to the design and operation of Hrönn,” said Brett Phaneuf, CEO of Automated Ships Ltd.

“We are pleased to be collaborating with such expert partners in the development of Hrönn, a vessel that will show how digitalisation and autonomy have the potential to revolutionize the offshore services market,” added Stene Førsund, EVP of global sales and marketing at Kongsberg Maritime.

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