Photo: SEA-KIT USV Maxlimer (Credit: Rich Edwards, ENP Media)

Inmarsat equips SEA-KIT USVs with connectivity solution

Satellite communications provider Inmarsat has installed a new connectivity solution on SEA-KIT’s uncrewed surface vessel (USV) Maxlimer using virtualised networks.

Inmarsat said that the virtualised networks will establish higher standards for over-the-horizon uncrewed vessel control.

The installation connects the USV Maxlimer to the best available network at all times by switching as necessary between Fleet LTE, Global Xpress (GX) and FleetBroadBand satellite services when out of range.

According to Inmarsat, the combination will set new standards in continuous connectivity to serve a broader range of USV situations.

It will also support the next phase of SEA-KIT technology trials, which began in September off the coast of Plymouth, United Kingdom.

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As described, the project requires the installation of a GX antenna to join an existing FleetBroadband antenna that together will deliver full Fleet Xpress capabilities, plus Fleet LTE hardware for seamless switching between networks onboard the USV.

Scott Middleton, sales director EMEA, AsiaPac Offshore Energy, Inmarsat Maritime, said: “The new trial will be a significant stepping stone for separated networks solutions that ensure reliability, cyber resilience and high data traffic while selecting bandwidth for the most cost-effective USV operations at all times”.

“SEA-KIT is delighted to trial seamless switching and to work with Inmarsat to increase data capabilities in developing over-the-horizon control capability, once again pushing the boundaries of our USV design”, said Ashley Skett, operations director at SEA-KIT International.

“We would also like to acknowledge the contributions being made to these trials by our partners NORBIT Subsea, iXblue and Genasys Inc”.

In 2020, the UK-based SEA-KIT formed a strategic partnership with Fugro to develop a new range of USVs which can deploy remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) for marine assets inspections.

In July this year, the company’s USVs received Unmanned Marine Systems (UMS) certification by Lloyd’s Register, becoming the first-ever to achieve this milestone.