VIDEO: Zelim moves ahead on unmanned fast rescue craft

Written by Nick Blenkey
fast rescue craft

Renderig of Zelim Guardian Class FRC [Image; Zelim]

Edinburgh, Scotland, based search and rescue (SAR) innovator Zelim continues to make progress with its plans to develop advanced lifesaving systems (see earlier story). Metal for its first Guardian Class fast rescue craft (FRC) was recently cut at Coastal Workboats’ Exeter, England, shipyard.

Designed by Chartwell Marine, the 8-meter Guardian Class FRC is launched from a LARS davit cradle installed at deck level on a mother ship and recovered offshore via hooking on to the bow painter and subsequently to the LARS lifting hook, lowered to water level.

The vessel is capable of operating in up to 4 meters HS (Sea State 6) in transit and casualty recovery operations and incorporates Zelim’s innovative swift rescue conveyor.

Time is arguably the most critical factor in successful search and rescue operations. The need to reach the incident location and then spot and recover casualties as fast as possible is paramount. Guardian is designed for speed and incorporates Zelim’s two-step recovery system. The system’s real time, AI-based casualty detection system is designed spot and track multiple casualties in the water in all conditions. Once survivors are detected, Zelim’s swift rescue conveyor can recover casualties from the water in a matter of seconds.

The technology was trialed and successfully demonstrated to offshore wind industry stakeholders at Race Bank Offshore Wind Farm, off the coast of Grimsby, in May 2022 and Zelim and Coastal Workboats signed contracts for the build of the aluminum prototype at the end of 2022.

Guardian will feature remote command and control capability, making it the world’s first uncrewed rescue vessel. The design is aimed at providing enhanced capability to respond to person overboard incidents and close standby cover for offshore operations. Deploying from a larger vessel offshore, Guardian will be first to arrive on scene to recover casualties and bring them back to the safety of the parent vessel.

The technology has already attracted interest from the offshore energy sector, however, it has the potential to revolutionize emergency response across the maritime industry as the vessel has the capability to respond in conditions usually deemed too dangerous for crewed fast rescue craft.

“When bringing ground-breaking technology to market you need partners who share your vision,” says Zelim CEO Sam Mayall. “We are thrilled that Coastal Workboats is on the journey with us.”

“We’re delighted to be working in partnership with a company that shares our focus on finding safe, robust ways for technology and innovation to pave the way for a better, safer future at sea,” said Coastal Workboats director, Brian Pogson.

Andy Page of Chartwell Marine said: “We are very proud to see the first Guardian Class vessel go into construction. It is satisfying to be working on this advanced lifesaving platform with likeminded people such as the teams at Zelim and Coastal Workboats. We look forward to sea trials later this year!”

Guardian is scheduled for completion early this year. On leaving the yard the vessel will undergo extensive sea trials before appearing at various industry events later in 2023.

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