SAFE Boats unveils autonomous hydrographic survey vessel design

Written by Marine Log Staff
Rendering of autonomous hydrographic survey vessel

SAFE Boats Merlin vessel has been developed in collaboration with Mythos AI, Echo81, and World Marine Design.

With its eyes on the offshore wind industry, SAFE Boats International has gained exclusive rights to build an advanced autonomous hydrographic survey vessel at its Tacoma, Wash., large-craft production facility. The innovative, 23-meter semi-displacement monohull design, called Merlin, has been developed in collaboration with Mythos AI, Echo 81, and World Marine Design.

The Jones Act compliant Merlin will have an all-aluminum hull powered by a twin Volvo Penta D13 hybrid-ready system with IPS. For a zero-emission power solution, the Merlin can accommodate hydrogen technology supplied by Zero Emission Industries (ZEI). Both power options offer lower emissions and extended range to perform site assessment surveys at offshore wind energy areas.

The Merlin’s three deck levels offer crew and technicians sleeping berths, full bathroom, galley, survey workstation, and a marine mammal observer post on the flybridge. The vessel’s generous aft working deck is equipped with an A-Frame, dual winches, moonpool, and outboard seismic booms.

Rendering of autonomous hydrographic survey vessel
Merlin has three deck levels, including a marine mammal observer post on the flybridge

The hull of the autonomous hydrographic survey vessel was specifically designed to incorporate the industry’s most advanced sonars with minimal interference while collecting data at a highly efficient pace. A Seakeeper gyro provides active ride control, enhancing stability and crew comfort. A shallow draft of 1.6 meters allows the Merlin to perform various survey missions and make port in small or large harbors across the U.S.

Hydrographic systems provider, Echo 81, is nationally recognized as a leader in the hydrographic survey industry. With its contribution, Merlin is the industry’s first geophysical vessel that can be acquired directly from the builder (SAFE Boats International) with a fully integrated geophysical sensor suite configured specifically for U.S. offshore wind. Echo81 will provide a single source for sensor service and support, drastically reducing the cost burdens associated with owning and operating survey vessels.

Maritime autonomy provider Mythos AI is responsible for optimizing Merlin vessels for autonomous survey operations. Mythos AI’s advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) are designed specifically to automate geophysical workflows so that hydrographers and crew are not required to physically be onboard the vessel. As Mythos AI’s technology advances, it will be capable of providing a push-button, long endurance, dock-to-dock, self-driving and self-surveying solution for offshore wind.

World Marine Design is a subsidiary of Walker Marine Design, whose innovative hull forms have been built in Europe, the U.S. and the Far East.

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