Another autonomous vessel joins Fugro's fleet and obtains highest level of UK coastguard approval

Highest level of UK coastguard approval for latest autonomous vessel to join Fugro’s fleet

Fugro has expanded its uncrewed surface vessel (USV) fleet with the addition of a new Blue Essence vessel which has received the highest level of UK coastguard approval.

Source: Fugro

Fugro Vaquita has joined Fugro’s 12-meter Blue Essence USV fleet and has earned Category 0 approval from the UK Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA), the highest level of approval for autonomous vessels.

According to the Dutch company, it is now the largest USV to operate fully remotely, with unrestricted access, to support marine projects further offshore while enhancing safety and environmental performance. 

Developed in partnership with SEA-KIT, Fugro Vaquita is the second of the company’s Blue Essence USV fleet to operate in European waters. In 2023, Fugro Orca completed multiple projects including several asset integrity and seabed surveys.

At the end of 2023, Fugro announced it had reached a binding agreement for the acquisition of the remaining shares in SEA-KIT.

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Nick Simmons, Fugro’s Director of USV and Remote Working in Europe and Africa said: “This is a ground-breaking milestone for the maritime sector as we strengthen our capabilities to service assets further offshore. We are thrilled with the development of our Blue Essence fleet as we commit to more remote operations and progress towards our goal of net zero emissions by 2035.”

Fugro noted that the expansion of the Blue Essence fleet demonstrates its commitment to leveraging technology for a safe and liveable world. Both USV and the electrical remotely operated vehicle (eROV) will be remotely controlled from Fugro’s network of remote operations centers (ROCs). 

The Dutch company emphasized that this remote operation capability not only removes personnel from potentially high-risk offshore environments but also significantly reduces the carbon footprint of operations, with the USV’s emissions up to 95% lower than conventional support vessels.