Jan De Nul – the first dredging contractor to deploy USV

Jan De Nul Group has ordered Maritime Robotic’s hybrid Mariner Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV).

This is their first step towards unmanned and autonomous offshore survey operations.

Named Beluga 01, this vessel will be deployed for worldwide hydrographical and environmental surveys on marine and offshore construction projects.

Jan De Nul is herewith the first dredging contractor to deploy an unmanned survey vehicle in marine and offshore conditions.

Jan De Nul photo

Commenting the latest news, Mike Lycke, Survey Manager Offshore Projects at Jan De Nul Group, said: “For several years, we have been studying different autonomous systems. Our primary focus has always been to build up our expertise on autonomy for maritime survey operations.”

“The global circumstances in 2020 and a maturing USV market enabled us to take it to the next step and order a turnkey vessel for our marine and offshore projects. We found the perfect partner in Maritime Robotics, a leading provider of innovative unmanned solutions for maritime operations and data acquisition.”

The Beluga 01 is equipped with a fully redundant hybrid propulsion system. The prime source of propulsion is a diesel engine that is mechanically coupled to the water jet.

Alternatively, the vessel can be operated in full electrical mode. The additional electrical Torqeedo propulsion, installed parallel to the main propulsion, can manoeuvre the vessel in sensitive marine areas. 

There is also a range extender module to top up the batteries which will operate longer than 12 hours. This system has lower emissions than the main engine, which could also be used as an alternator for the batteries.

Furthermore, the electrical propulsion acts as redundancy for the main engine in case of a failure, or vice versa.

According to Jan De Nul, the Beluga 01 is capable of operating in up to sea state five, although this usually precludes gathering any useful survey data. The vessel can survive in up to sea state seven.

The Beluga 01 only needs 80 cm of water to operate in, Jan De Nul said.

Photo: Jan De Nul