Marlink’s smart network technology enables SeaOwl’s remotely operated vessel project

Thursday 27, May 2021

Marlink is providing a special purpose, highly resilient satellite network solution for the SeaOwl Remotely Operated Service at Sea (ROSS) project. Their fully redundant and cyber secure network was installed on a first testbed of remotely operated offshore support vessels with no crew onboard. A real-world demonstration of the system was conducted in September 2020, on the VN Rebel. Fully remotely controlled from shore, the project achieved its objective to provide a significant reduction in operation costs, initially in the offshore sector with potential application to other civilian and military craft.

The Challenge

CaseStudy_SeaOwl1To dispense with the cost of chartering large offshore service vessels and their crews for subsea operations, SeaOwl developed an unmanned vessel that can be fully operated from their remote-control centre in France. A ship that can deploy a remotely operated robot on request, in charge of inspection, repair and maintenance (IMR) missions of oil and gas sub-marine installations.

This project demanded a telecom link, cyber security and digital software of the utmost reliability. Marlink’s cutting edge satcom engineering expertise and intelligent hybrid network made them a natural partner for their focus on close cooperation and co-creation with our customers in delivering solutions that accommodate the most demanding operational environments.

Further, SeaOwl sought unprecedented regulatory and flag state compliance to operate without crew onboard. This involved close work with France’s Directorate of Maritime Affairs to secure the navigation license, and with Bureau Veritas to provide a clear compliance pathway for this and future projects.

The Solution

Global, secure satellite services from Marlink provide SeaOwl with stable, reliable and global connectivity.

To meet maritime regulations, the remotely operated vessel is equipped with visual and auditory sensors, which provide the flight officer with a visual field and sound environment similar to what he would have if he were on board.

Powering this demands maximum availability and latency management in ever-changing weather conditions, to ensure fast, seamless Internet for the transfer of information (especially images and video) and the transmission of orders given by the officer in charge.

Marlink and SeaOwl held several engineering workshops to achieve a custom designed, highly resilient, and redundant connectivity and control system, comprising a Sealink VSAT system with three antennas, dual satellite feeds and dual below deck equipment. The system further features a unique customised dashboard interface for the ROSS system to monitor key link performance indicators including latency, jitter and throughput.

The installation is built on a backbone of state-of-the-art technology and leverages Marlink’s expertise in cyber security and network resilience; working closely in co-operation with Bureau Veritas and the French Department of Maritime Affairs in parallel to ensure compliance of statutory requirements.

Key Benefits

  • Secure, reliable connectivity
    • Cyber resilience and tools to minimize latency and maximize responsiveness
    • Satellite upgrade path to Low / Medium Earth Orbit when available thanks to Marlink’s agnostic technology partnerships
  • Cost savings
    • Reduction in overall transportation , maintenance and staff costs
  • Safety
    • Limiting HSE risk, minimising Covid-19 exposure and reducing fire and pollution risk
  • Efficiency:
    • Better flexibility and scalability, more agility to identify and fix problems sooner via remote monitoring & access
    • Moving data, not people – unlocking the true value in data
  • Sustainability:
    • Greener, downsized support vessel with reduced energy consumption

SeaOwl’s Feedback

SeaOwl_VincentBOUTTEAU

At SeaOwl, safety and compliance are paramount, and we sought to tackle these challenges, beginning with an in-depth risk analysis. Working with Bureau Veritas and our panel of experts, we identified a demand for a robust link, with no room for error. This led us to Marlink, who were uniquely able to meet this demand and provide connectivity capable of replacing eyes and minds onboard with eyes and actions on shore.

Vincent Boutteau, SeaOwl Group Managing Director

About the Customer

SeaOwlSeaOwl was founded three years ago by former merchant navy officer Xavier Genin, in partnership with state environmental promotion body ADEME which financed 50% of the 4million euro R&D investment.

Operating in 32 active countries, with 15 offices and 1300 employees, SeaOwl plans to make its first vessel orders and ultimately build around 20 remotely operated, electrically powered ships between 2023 and 2028. With regulatory approval in place, and while partnering with Marlink to ensure teleoperations of its fleet in complete safety and cyber security via satellite link, the ROSS vessels will be used for underwater inspections of oil and gas fields and windfarms.

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