UT 5208 Reach
The future

REACHing new waters

In April 2022, Kongsberg Maritime signed a contract with Reach Subsea ASA for the construction of the first two in a series of unmanned offshore surface vessels. 

  • CRAIG TAYLOR
    Senior Manager PR & Communications

In the first project of its kind for Kongsberg Maritime, the company will be the prime contractor on two autonomous vessels for the REACH project.

Senior Ship Designer Erik Leenders describes the project as “uncharted ground”, saying: “Normally we design and supply equipment, but here we are also hiring a yard to build and assemble the vessels.

“This is uncharted ground. We don’t know yet how the International Maritime Organization will treat this kind of vessel. For now, local flags and classification societies will decide how to handle them. It's a completely different way of thinking.”The vessel is designed around a moon pool, from which the ROV is launched.

Senior Ship Designer Erik Leenders

It's a completely different way of thinking. Senior Ship Designer Erik Leenders

It will be controlled from a remote operating centre, where one captain will be able to control several vessels at the same time. Other operators will monitor the vessels’ machinery and electrical systems. REACH is a project that Erik expects to have a significant impact on future ship design.

“We can see potential for similar technology to be applied on other ships,” he says. “There’s a continuous drive to improve sustainability across our industry, and using a small vessel to do work that currently requires a larger one with a lot of people on board helps significantly reduce emissions. The smaller vessel uses much less fuel, and you don’t have to fly people around the world to man her.

The REACH USVs will be controlled initially from a Remote Operations Centre

“The knowledge we’ve gained already, including the equipment and software we develop, can be used in other designs and projects. That’s not only on the technical side, it's also in the rules, regulations and legislation required for autonomous 
operation. In fact, that might be a bigger hurdle than the technical part. While I think we’ll see this kind of technology on more ships, it will take time"

Einar Vegsund, Vice President - Ship Design

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