Vard wins order for new series of robotic ships

Written by Nick Blenkey
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The order for six, 85-meter, optionally-crewed robotic vessels will take Ocean Infinity’s remote vessel fleet to 23 vessels

Ocean Infinity, the Austin, Texas, company building an “armada” of robotic ships, has contracted Fincantieri’s Norwegian subsidiary Vard for the design and construction of a new series of six multipurpose offshore vessels, all of which will be operated from shore and will eventually utilize green ammonia as fuel.

The order for six, 85-meter, optionally-crewed robotic vessels will take Ocean Infinity’s remote vessel fleet to 23 vessels—the largest in the world.

Ocean Infinity, which specializes in seafloor analysis and oceanography, says that, with its services, control infrastructure and remote control center currently undergoing commissioning, “transformational low-emission remote operations are becoming a closer reality for the global maritime industry.”

This new contract between Ocean Infinity and Vard facilitates the next phase of joint development between the two companies, including Vard’s subsidiaries, Vard Design, Vard Electro and Seaonics.

“These new 85 meter vessels will be optimized for inspection, maintenance and repair and light construction work to offer remote, ultra-low carbon services to the offshore energy market,” said Richard Daltry, technical director – surface technology at Ocean Infinity. “Like the 78 meter series currently under construction, the new design continues to drive minimalized environmental impact with its integration of new fuel-cell and battery technology.”

“The team have made significant progress in recent months; commissioning our shore-side remote control infrastructure, running ROVs remotely and developing our fleet management capability,” said Dan Hook, chief technology officer at Ocean Infinity. “The way in which we will optimize the control and operation of these remote vessels is key. We’re wholeheartedly committed to our goal of transforming operations at sea, to enable people and the planet to thrive, and we’re proud to demonstrate that with the announcement of this next phase of Armada.”

“This contract addresses the core of Vard’s mission and strategy to enable sustainable maritime operations together with our customers, and further strengthens our partnership with Ocean Infinity,” said Fredrik Mordal Hessen, General manager of Vard’s Offshore and Specialized Vessels business area. “Advanced equipment integration and remote operation is becoming a reality for the maritime industry. Vard Design, Vard Electro, Seaonics and our shipyards have joined forces to enable the required integration, demonstrating the strength of our fully integrated value chain.”

The new vessels of Vard 9 80 design will augment Ocean Infinity’s current Armada fleet of nine 21-meter and 36-meter vessels, plus eight 78-meter vessels which are already in production.

Vard won the contract to design and build the eight highly advanced, 78-meter vessels in November 2020. The first four are underway while steel cutting for the fifth began recently at Vard Vung Tau in Vietnam.

The new series of six vessels is scheduled for delivery from Vard Vung Tau in Vietnam in 2025. The first vessels will have the full suite of new technology and equipment installed and integrated at one of Vard’s shipyards in Norway utilizing Vard’s global integrated value chain.

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