UK boatbuilder Diverse Marine has been contracted to build the initial run in a series of robotic vessels, monikered the Hydronaut class, for Houston-based Nauticus Robotics (formerly Houston Mechatronics). In order to comply with the terms of the US’ protectionist Jones Act, some of the 18m vessels will be constructed by Diverse Marine’s partner yards in North America.
Nauticus plans to amass a ‘robotic navy’ of 20 Hydronauts in total, which will support the launch, recovery and real-time operations of the company’s Aquanaut – a free-swimming subsea robot developed for data collection, inspection and manipulation tasks (for more info, see Ship & Boat International November/December 2019, pages 48-49). Additionally, the Hydronauts will provide battery recharges for the Aquanaut units. The Hydronaut has been designed by Global Marine Design, Australia and will feature an aluminium hull, deck and wheelhouse. In terms of propulsion, the vessel will draw on twin Volvo Penta IPS1050 units for a speed of 18knots.
The Hydronaut will also be fitted with a launch and recovery system for the Aquanaut, supplied by Kongsberg, and will offer a mess and berths, enabling optional manned missions. Diverse Marine says that the Hydronaut will be initially flagged to the MCA Workboat Code and classed by Bureau Veritas. The first two vessels in the order are earmarked for delivery in Q1 2023, with the remainder to be rolled out by the end of 2024.