Dutch marine robotics company unveils its first fully classed USV

Dutch company’s pioneer USV powered by biofuel-hybrid propulsion combo

The Netherlands-based marine robotics manufacturer and shipyard RC Dock has unveiled its first fully classed uncrewed surface vessel (USV) designed for inspection, maintenance, repair (IMR) and survey operations.

Source: RC Dock

The 12-meter catamaran is equipped with an in-house developed launch and recovery system and can host inspection/work class remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), said to enable real-time, over-the-horizon (OTH) remote-operated underwater inspections and repair work, broadening the vessel’s utility in maritime operations.

The USV is powered by a combination of 100% biofuel and a hybrid propulsion system – green technology which allows for carbon-neutral operations for over 30 days, with a 10-knot transit speed and a 7-knot survey speed, RC Dock said.

According to the Dutch company, the vessel has been proven in harsh North Sea conditions during winter 2022-2023, demonstrating over 90% less CO2 emissions than conventional vessels.

“At 25 tons, we’ve successfully created Europe’s largest commercial and class-certified USV, providing a stable and safe platform for offshore wind farm inspections and multi-sensor deployment with a 5-ton payload capacity. This vessel represents more than just a product; it’s a real, trial-tested solution that advances offshore capabilities while significantly reducing costs and environmental impact,” said Ronald Kraft, RC Dock’s Founder.

“A Master and qualified watchkeepers monitor the USV 24/7 from a control center onshore. Even by deploying different autonomous functions to the vessel control systems, such as collision avoidance and AI-supported image recognition and avoidance functionalities, RC Dock emphasizes the importance of keeping 24/7 human operators in the loop. This approach increases safety assurance towards our customers, especially when operating in traffic-congested areas and during complex offshore projects.”

The USV features a twin hull design and an advanced system for managing the launch, recovery, and towing of sensors, specifically for remotely operated towed vehicle (ROTV) operations.

This first USV was built for Middle East-based Sovereign Global Solutions. Additional units are on order and planned for delivery in late 2023.

A larger 23-meter sister vessel is set to debut in 2024. The USV is equipped with its own intelligent launch and recovery system (LARS) and will have the capability to operate multiple units from a mother vessel.