Photo: RECOTUG OPS Centre. Image Courtesy: Svitzer, ABS, Kongsberg Maritime

Svitzer, ABS, Kongsberg to develop world’s 1st remotely controlled tug

Towage operator Svitzer A/S, maritime technology group Kongsberg Maritime, and classification society ABS have signed an agreement to jointly develop RECOTUG, the world’s first fully operational, and fully remotely controlled tugboat.

remotely controlled tug Svitzer ABS Kongsberg
RECOTUG OPS Centre. Image Courtesy: Svitzer, ABS, Kongsberg Maritime

While Svitzer, part of Danish shipping major Maersk, is bringing the needed operational experience, a newly built tug with crew as well as tug-specific technical solutions, Kongsberg Maritime will provide the remote control systems and the autonomous technology and lead the integration of systems and technology. What is more, ABS will bring the guidance and expertise necessary to obtain regulatory approval.

As explained, the aim of the project is to develop a remotely controlled tug that will be able to perform a full towage operation with all operations controlled from a remote operations centre.

The solution and the achieved safety level shall lead to maritime authorities (class and flag) approving the technology, ultimately permitting Svitzer to conduct commercial remote tug operations in the Port of Copenhagen. The RECOTUG project is expected to run for the years to come.

“At Kongsberg, we believe that digitalisation and enhanced automation are vital to ensuring a safe, sustainable and profitable future for the maritime industry, and the step forward represented by this project is of great importance in demonstrating the application,” Egil Haugsdal, President, Kongsberg Maritime, commented.

The remotely controlled tug project is a continuation of the first Svitzer/Kongsberg Maritime (formerly Rolls-Royce Marine) project announced in 2017 centred around remotely operated navigation of the Svitzer Hermod tug in the Port of Copenhagen.

As a result of the project, the partners conducted a number of remotely controlled, non-towage specific manoeuvres on water. From the quay side in Copenhagen harbour, the vessel master, stationed at a remote operating centre, berthed the vessel alongside the quay, undocked, turned 360°, went for a sail and safely docked again.

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“While we are still several years away from seeing remotely operated tugs with no crew on board in commercial operation, there is no doubt that advanced autonomy is progressing fast across the maritime industry,” Ingrid Uppelschoten Snelderwaard, Svitzer’s global COO, said.

“As safety moves away from the things you can see and touch, to things you cannot see such as software and data, ABS has been spearheading development of next generation safety approaches that draw on our expertise as a technical integrator… Greater industry collaboration is going to be key to meeting the challenges of digitalization and maritime sustainability, so ABS is proud to be part of a team that has such a significant role to play in shaping the direction of both,” Christopher Wiernicki, ABS Chairman, President and CEO, pointed out.