Sea Machines and MARAD to Demonstrate Autonomous Tech in Oil-Spill Response Operations

MSRC skimming vessel
A 30-foot MSRC Marco I skimming vessel based in Portland, Oregon. Photo courtesy MSRC

Boston-based Sea Machines Robotics says it has entered into cooperative agreement with the U.S. Maritime Administration to test the use of autonomous technology in marine oil-spill response operations.

Under the agreement, Sea Machines will install its SM300 autonomous-command system aboard a Marine Spill Response Corp. (MSRC)-owned MARCO skimming vessel and execute a simulated oil-spill recovery exercises in the harbor of Portland, Maine.

The on-the-water test is to take place on August 21 before government, naval, international, environmental and industry partners. Part of the agreement also calls for Sea Machines to train MSRC personnel to operate the system.

The purpose of the test is to demonstrate the ability of Sea Machines’ autonomous technology in increasing the safety, response time and productivity of marine oil-spill response operations.

The response skimming vessel is manufactured by Seattle-based Kvichak Marine Industries, which typically operates in coastal or near-shore areas. It is equipped with a MARCO filter belt skimmer to recover oil from the surface of the water.

“Autonomous technology has the power to not only help prevent vessel accidents that can lead to spills, but can also facilitate better preparedness; aid in safer, efficient, and effective clean-up,” said CEO Michael G. Johnson, Sea Machines. “We look forward to working closely with MARAD and MSRC in these industry-modernizing exercises.”

“Our number one priority is the safety of our personnel at MSRC,” said John Swift, vice president, MSRC. “The ability to use autonomous technology – allowing response operations to continue in an environment where their safety may be at risk – furthers our mission of response preparedness.”