Offshore services company Bourbon and its technology partner Kongsberg Maritime have entered a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Automated Ships (ASL) to build an autonomous offshore vessel prototype known as Hrönn.

The Hrönn project was launched in November 2016 and will see the construction of a steel monohulled offshore utility ship, which is intended to serve the offshore energy, hydrographic and scientific, and fishing industries.

The light-duty ship can also be used as a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), as well as an autonomous underwater vehicle support ship and standby vessel. It is also equipped to provide firefighting support to offshore platforms.

Bourbon will provide detailed input to the development and design of the Hrönn project under the agreement.

The company will also collaborate with ASL to seek out subsidies for the financing of the prototype's construction.

Kongsberg will deliver the equipment necessary to design, build and operate Hrönn, including all systems related to dynamic positioning and navigation, satellite and position reference, marine automation and communication.

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"The light-duty ship can be used as a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), as well as an autonomous underwater vehicle support ship and standby vessel."

The vessel’s control systems will be replicated at an Onshore Control Centre in order to enable Hrönn to operate autonomously. These include K-Pos Dynamic positioning, K-Chief automation and the K-Bridge electronic chart display and information system.

Kongsberg Maritime Global Sales and Marketing EVP Stene Førsund said: "We are pleased to be collaborating with such expert partners in the development of Hrönn, a vessel that will show how digitalisation and autonomy have the potential to revolutionise the offshore services market."

Hrönn's sea trials will be carried out under the direction of DNV GL and the Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA) in Norway's automated vessel test bed, which is located in Trondheim fjord.

The ship is expected to be built by Norwegian shipyard Fjellstrand.

Image: Hrönn will be a monohulled autonomous vessel of 37m length. Photo: courtesy of Kongsberg Maritime.