Damen and Sea Machines form strategic alliance

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Left to right: Toine Cleophas, manager research, Damen Shipyards Gorinchem; Frank Relou, European business development manager, Sea Machines; Michiel Louwerse, program manager sustainability, Damen Shipyards Gorinchem. [Photo: Damen]

Boston-based Sea Machines Robotics has entered a strategic allegiance that will see its autonomous command and control and wireless helm solutions offered by Netherlands headquartered Damen Shipyards Group as standard features in its global vessel build catalog.

Damen specializes in modular shipbuilding based on standardized designs, with an in-stock hull program ensuring a rapid and efficient delivery of proven technology.

Since 1969, Damen has delivered more than 6,500 vessels, averaging around 175 vessels a year. The company keeps more than 150 hulls in stock. Damen plans to initially offer Sea Machines systems on workboats, patrol vessels, tugboats, crew transfer vessels, and ferries.

In addition to installing the autonomous-command and wireless-helm systems, Damen will train users to operate Sea Machines systems via the company’s in-house simulator. Fully integrated with Sea Machines’ technology, the simulator will generate a realistic marine domain in which employees and the company’s clients can learn to use Sea Machines’ intuitive user interface and become familiar with modern autonomous-command capabilities.

These capabilities include autonomous transit behaviors as well as collaborative autonomy for unmanned daughter craft operations, and pre-configured pattern autonomy for task-based workboat missions.

Sea Machines autonomy incorporates obstacle detection and collision avoidance based on COLREGs for dynamic-domain operations, as well as highly valuable remote-command, remote-machinery and payload control, which allows shore-based command of vessels and on-board equipment.

Customers can leverage reduced-crew or unmanned vessel operations which can greatly increase the productivity of persistent workboat operations or remove personnel from hazardous marine work environments.

“This alliance will play an important role towards the realization of Damen’s strategy, which is built on the continual development of digitalization, sustainability and operational excellence of Damen products and services,” said Damen’s Toine Cleophas, manager programs. “The collaboration forms a part of Damen’s R&D program Smart Ship and will increase customer value by supporting a more digitalized Damen portfolio.”

“This significant development sends a clear signal to the industry that autonomous marine technology is rapidly gaining adoption and is in-demand among commercial operators,” said Sea Machines’ CEO Michael G. Johnson. “We see a future, where most, if not all, newly constructed vessels will feature autonomous technology as standard. This partnership will accelerate Sea Machines’ position as the ‘go-to’ provider of advanced marine technology and is securing Damen as an innovative industry leader for years to come.”

Rendering of a “smart bridge” in which a mariner takes a remote supervisor role. [Image: Damen]
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