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Ports Group in UK Successfully Completes First Trial of Autonomous Unmanned Survey Vessel

12th April 2021
In the UK, the Peel Ports group, successfully completed a first trial of an autonomous survey vessel. This was the first Port group in Britain to take delivery of such a vessel, which completed its first successful trial at Crosby Marina. In the UK, the Peel Ports group, successfully completed a first trial of an autonomous survey vessel. This was the first Port group in Britain to take delivery of such a vessel, which completed its first successful trial at Crosby Marina. Credit: Peel Ports -facebook

In the UK, Peel Ports is the first Port group in the country to take delivery of an autonomous unmanned survey vessel, which completed its first successful trial at Crosby Marine Lake, north of Liverpool.

Peel Ports offered Sefton Council the first trial of FITZROY’s services which provided hydrographic charts of Crosby Marine Lake, located a short distance from The Port of Liverpool. Its survey capabilities were able to provide valuable data of the lakebed which will feed into the upcoming planned dredging operations.

The trial which took place last month, also provided assurance to Peel Ports that the quality of the data is equal to that of previous surveys conducted by manned vessels.

Developed by L3 Harris and featuring pioneering technology, the 4.5m vessel, named Fitzroy, weighs 1 tonne and carries multibeam sonar equipment capable of hi resolution seafloor mapping down to 100m.

Fitzroy is designed to provide autonomous solutions to improve working efficiency on the water in order to gather data about the marine environment and can be used for hydrology research, scientific exploration, hydrographic survey, emergency search and rescue and other tasks.

It uses GPS location tracking to follow pre-set waypoints and mission parameters, navigating autonomously while intelligently avoiding obstacles up to 50m ahead. The vessel communicates to the remote base station by WIFI, 4g and VHF radio.

Russell Bird, Deputy Group Harbour Master said “This recent investment show Peel Port’s commitment to innovation in the marine environment whilst reducing emissions and enhancing safety. The use of autonomous and remote vehicles is growing exponentially and we are delighted to be leading that charge in the Ports sector”

Fitzroy’s remote capability presents many benefits including the removal of high-risk activities generally associated with crew working aboard small survey vessel in dynamic marine environments. Its compact features will also facilitate its transportation to the Group’s multiple port locations across the UK, and will make her maiden voyage to Great Yarmouth next week.

Published in Ports & Shipping
Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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