The largest port in Europe had a real first today. For the first time, an unmanned ship could be seen in Rotterdam, which received its commands from the shore via a satellite link.
The Orca – 12 meters long, 2 meters wide – belongs to soil researcher Fugro and will inspect wind farms, drilling platforms, pipelines and electricity cables at sea. “Owners of those objects, such as energy companies, naturally want to know the condition of, for example, the windmills,” says Ivar de Josselin de Jong of Fugro. “Based on our research, they can determine what maintenance needs to be done.”
These inspections are currently still carried out by ships with people on board. Fugro finds that quite risky. Not only can the weather be very bad at sea, but when working on the aft deck of ships, people can slip and fall with heavy equipment, just to name a few.
“With our traditional way of working, we naturally try to minimize the risks, but with this unmanned vessel we are taking an even bigger step.” And the new method saves about 95 percent CO2 emissions.
‘This is the future’
According to the Fugro spokesperson, this will be the future: “The 28 ships that we now have in our fleet will be supplemented with ships such as the Orca”, says De Josselin de Jong. Ultimately, it’s about replacement.
Rotterdam harbor master René de Vries is also enthusiastic. Not that container giants from China will soon be coming to Rotterdam in this way, but he does expect a mix of manned and unmanned ships in the port of Rotterdam in the coming decades.
“I think it is a beautiful moment, for the first time a remotely controlled seagoing vessel in our port. It stands for what this port stands for: innovation, renewal, efficiency, durability. Now a much larger ship is going out to sea with a lot of people. If it can be replaced by an unmanned variant full of measuring equipment, you are working very sustainably.”
According to De Vries, his port also has patrol vessels. “I would really like to have an unmanned fire-fighting vessel so that I no longer have to put my people in dangerous situations.”
Does it cost jobs?
And will this technical progress cost jobs in the future? According to the Fugro spokesperson, absolutely not: “The jobs go from sea to land. That is a lot safer for people.”
Unmanned ship debuts in Rotterdam port
Source link Unmanned ship debuts in Rotterdam port