Saving the oceans to save our planet

Careful management of this essential global resource is a key feature of a sustainable future

More than 70% of the planet is covered in water, yet we know less about the deep oceans than we do about the surface of Mars. Oceans drive the global economy and therefore, plays a fundamental role in the SDG framework. As such, SDG 14 is inextricably linked to many of the other goals and their targets. For instance, its focus on overfishing has a direct impact on SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth and SDG 11: Sustainable Cities & Communities.

More than 70% of the planet is covered in water, yet we know less about the deep oceans than we do about the surface of Mars.

Considering that only 5% of the ocean floor has been mapped, in 2017, the UN proclaimed a Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, to be held from 2021 to 2030. It will provide a common framework to ensure that ocean science can fully support countries’ actions to sustainably manage the Oceans. Obtaining, managing, analysing and acting on data from the oceans is the foundation, and KONGSBERG, through world-class subsea expertise, is playing an important role.

    Only 20% of the planet’s oceans have been mapped, but initiatives like The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project and Map the Gaps are spearheading the drive to make it 100% by 2030. That’s an unfathomable amount of data to collect store and analyse. Which is one of the reasons KONGSBERG focuses on streamlining and optimising survey data by using state-of-the-art digital and cloud-based technology. Ocean Insight is a Kognifai-based digital platform to Visualize, analyse and share multibeam data in real time. It enables commercial teams to access data at any time, from anywhere helping to streamline the efficiency of ocean survey. When it comes to mapping the remaining 80% of the oceans, its ability to organise and make sense of the data produced at sea is set to become essential.

    Autonomous or remotely controlled underwater vehicles offer more agility than research or survey vessels and their use in ocean science is only ever expanding. The innovative Hugin Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) can dive as deep as 10,000 metres with the ability to operate for weeks below the surface, carrying a payload of sensors to capture the most incredible data. Our Sounder Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV) – built with our partner Norsafe AS – takes the lessons learned with Hugin, to create the most advanced autonomous surface vessel for marine surveying. With flexible payloads, a robust and reliable propulsion system, and an efficient hull design Sounder can conduct marine research on its own for up to 20 days.

    Capturing meaningful data from the oceans is incredibly challenging. But, thanks to the ingenuity and forward thinking of KONGSBERG engineers starting in the 1940s we have been able to break down the physical barriers. Our hydroacoustic systems are so precise that they can tell us what species of fish they are looking at even when different types are schooling together. We can provide high resolution maps of the seafloor and the objects on it and can even deliver accurate visualisations of what lies below it. We can also detect methane, oxygen and other chemicals with advanced sensors. Data from KONGSBERG sensors ensure that informed regulatory and operational decisions are made to the benefit of the oceans and society.

    Many of the advances in subsea technology that KONGSBERG has commercialised come from collaboration. We continue to work with countless partners to constantly improve the possibilities of measuring and monitoring underwater. We focus on everything from performance and data quality, to developing transformative methodologies and entirely new platforms for scientific research. This includes our part in the development of ‘SEA-KIT’ a unique dual autonomous surface and underwater vehicle solution, which won the prestigious $7 Million Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE for the GEBCO Nippon Foundation (GEBCO-NF) Alumni team in 2019.


In a unique concept, the ‘SEA-KIT’ Uncrewed Surface Vessel (USV) hosts a Hugin AUV. This approach leads to more efficient, safer and cost-effective seafloor mapping operations. It can carry industry standard instruments, providing the same quality of data as a full-size scientific research vessel, while consuming just 1% of the fuel.

Not only can SEA-KIT provide data that scientists need to protect life below water, it can drastically reduce the cost and environmental impact of marine science. This was shown during an Uncrewed Trans-Atlantic Survey (UTAS) co-funded by the UK Space Agency through the European Space Agency’s Business Application programme in the summer of 2020.

The 12 metre SEA-KIT host ship and Hugin AUV together surveyed 1000 km2 in just 22 days. The mission went without incident and when SEA-KIT returned to port in Plymouth, UK, it still had over 1300 litres of fuel left, so it could have been at sea for another 13 days.

SEA-KIT is a new generation of craft that can operate truly independently and as well as featuring the Hugin AUV, its remote and autonomous capabilities were also designed by KONGSBERG.

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