Autonomous/Unmanned Vessel Operations

Seacroft were engaged by an international hydrographic survey company who intends to operate Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USV) offshore UK, to advise, facilitate, support and realise the required steps to commercial operation in accordance with UK MCA requirements.

Seacroft Marine Consultants established a multi-disciplinary work group of leading marine and technical consultants to deliver the scope of work.

The Seacroft project team reviewed all documentation provided relevant to the project objective in order that the nature of the technology and its working parameters, the status of the USV project and the position of all stakeholders was fully understood.

Seacroft personnel, in liaison with the client, expanded and populated HAZID templates and contributed to HIRA workshops.

Seacroft reviewed and commented on work performed to date on the manufacturer’s FMECA. Following technical review, the need for amendments, updates or expansion of the technical and operational content was evaluated and performed upon agreement from the client.

A matrix was developed detailing areas or items of required deviations or alternative developments to ensure compliance (or potential exemption) with the MCA ‘Workboat Code’ and other applicable legislation and guidance which may be identified.

A detailed review of the MCA ‘Workboat Code’ was undertaken alongside a comparative analysis of areas of compliance and non-compliance for the nominated USVs and their intended area and mode of operation. Where compliance cannot be achieved due to the unmanned nature of the craft, arrangements for equivalency were proposed to suitably and safely manage operations and associated risks were documented for submission to flag state authorities for acceptance or exemption.

The overall scope of work included a detailed review of applicable legislation and guidance to provide an opinion on the legal position with regard to USV operations.

Following completion of the above work scope elements, and using a risk-based approach, Seacroft provided a report detailing the optimum strategy which will deliver the quickest route to commercial operations before preparing and compiling a safety case for USV operations.