Kongsberg, Robert Allan Unveil Unmanned Fire Boat Design

unmanned fireboat
An illustration of the RALamander 2000. Photo: Kongsberg/Robert Allan

Norwegian technology company Kongsberg Maritime has teamed up with naval architects and engineers at Vancouver-based Robert Allan on the development of unmanned, remotely-operated fireboats for ports.

If successful, the two partners said the new fireboat has potential to radically change the way first responders attack dangerous fires while in port. The so-called RALamander fireboat will offer close-range firefighting while keeping firefighters out of harm’s way.

“Fires involving containers, petrochemicals, shore-side structures or vessels can be attacked more quickly in situations where toxic smoke or explosion risk may delay or even prevent manned assets from responding effectively. RALamander can serve as a force multiplier with conventional firefighting assets, or be deployed on its own,” the companies said in a press release announcing the new boats.

The first in the series, the 20 m RALamander 2000, will be equipped with Fi-Fi 1 capability with a total pumping capacity of 2400 m3/hr with optional foam. A retractable mast will bring one of the three monitors to a high point of attack for shipboard or dock fires, while a range of auto functions is being planned for firefighting including dynamic positioning, water spray target holding, and ‘line protection’ where RALamander automatically moves back and forth along a line while directing protective spray cover onshore structures or vessels threatened by a fire. A low-profile design also makes it possible to attack under-wharf and marina fires remotely. A Grapnel Emergency Towing (GET) system means that if a burning vessel poses a threat to its surroundings, the RALamander ca be used to tow it a safe distance.

The design will feature a Kongsberg Maritime control and communications system a high-bandwidth, low latency wireless link to a semi-portable RALamander operator console, which can be located on a manned fireboat or other vessels such as a tug or pilot boat. Kongsberg said the system will also feature versatile architecture that will leave the door open to a range of autonomy levels, which are configurable or future-upgradable to suit the operator or port’s evolving needs.