North Sea was crossed with an autonomous 12-meter vessel loaded with a token cargo of oysters.
This vessel was designed and built in Essex, U.K., docked in the Belgian port city of Oostende last week following a successful transit from West Mersea. The voyage lasted 22 hours.
The box of oysters weighed around 5 kg – just a fraction of the current model’s maximum payload of up to 2.5 tons.
The SEA-KIT vessel was designed and developed by Hushcraft Ltd, based in Tollesbury, Essex. The vessel can be transported in a single 40-foot container.
SEA-KIT can be adapted to a range of tasks including hydrographic surveys, environmental missions, and marine safety and security.
The UK-to-Belgium transit was made possible with the support of the U.K. Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the U.K. Department for Transport, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office, partners in Belgium, and the European Space Agency. With this voyage completed, the team behind the mission will now set their sights on higher goals to test the capabilities of the vessel.
SEA-KIT was developed for, and used with, the Kongsberg Maritime Hugin AUV System for the GEBCO-Nippon Foundation Alumni Team entry to the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, a global competition challenging teams to advance deep-sea technologies for autonomous, fast, high-resolution ocean exploration. The GEBCO-NF team was funded by The Nippon Foundation of Japan, a private, non-profit foundation.
SEA-KIT, also, has the ability to autonomously launch and recover the AUV and acts as a communication link during subsea survey operations.