Norwegian shipbuild VARD has been contracted for the design and construction of a new series of six 85-meter “robotic” vessels for U.S.-based Ocean Infinity.
The Multi-Purpose Offshore Vessels (MPOVs) will expand Ocean Infinity’s remote vessel fleet to 23 vessels – the largest in the world.
The new vessels of VARD 9 80 design will add to Ocean Infinity’s current “Armada” fleet of nine 21-meter and 36-meter vessels, plus eight 78-meters 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 are scheduled for delivery from Vard Vung Tau 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.
The new series of multi-purpose offshore vessels will be operated from shore and will eventually utilise green ammonia as fuel.
“Armada will play a huge role in enabling the global maritime community to reduce its carbon emissions from operations at sea,” said Richard Daltry, Technical Director – Surface Technology at Ocean Infinity. “These new 85m 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. Like the 78m series currently under construction, the new design continues to drive minimalized environmental impact with its integration of new fuel-cell and battery technology.”
Ocean Infinity launched Armada in 2020 as a new company that will operate a fleet of unmanned vessels promising to “break new ground” in offshore data acquisition.
Austin-based Ocean Infinity specializes in using robots for ocean and seabed data acquisition. The company has been been behind some of the most high-profile deep sea finds in recent years, including locating the missing Argentine submarine ARA San Juan in 2018 as well as the sunken Stellar Daisy ore carrier in 2019 in South Atlantic Ocean. The company also led the private search for the MH370 aircraft in the Indian Ocean, which ultimately turned out to be unsuccessful.
Dan Hook, Chief Technology Officer at Ocean Infinity said “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. 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.”
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