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Getting a grip on USV recovery

Ship & Boat International: eNews May/June 2019



Launch and recovery system (LARS) specialist Henriksen Hooks has unveiled a flexible new system capable of safely deploying and retrieving unmanned surface vehicles (USVs). The SOLUS system incorporates technology created by both Henriksen and fellow Norwegian LARS developer Vestdavit, intended to simplify the launch/recovery processes for USVs, with no requirement for specialist operator training.


Ole Rasmus Undrum, Henriksen sales manager, tells Ship & Boat International: “One of the main benefits of the SOLUS system is that you can use it on existing davits. This not only saves money, by removing the need to overhaul and purchase new davits or additional special tools, but can save a lot of space. So, if you have a USV and a rescue boat on board, you can simply stack them – you don’t need separate systems for each boat.”


The launch procedure for the USV is the same as that for conventional workboats and/or rescue craft.  Henriksen explains: “The activated lifting hook[s] open[s] and release[s] the lifting line[s] automatically when the USV is waterborne. The painter hook opens and releases the painter line after the lifting hook[s] has/have opened, enabling the USV to drive off.” For recovery, however, the SOLUS incorporates a different methodology. After the USV has returned to the side of the mother vessel, the crew hoists a telescopic pole, via remote control. The pole lifts a rope connected to both the main hook and the painter hook on the USV side, and connected to the davit on the mother ship. 


“The pole can extend up to 3-4m in height,” Undrum continues. “The connection rope is divided into two pieces – one for the painter hook, at the front, and the other for the main hook, which does the lifting.” Once the painter line and lifting line are connected, the USV is lifted and returned to its storage crib on the mother vessel.


The SOLUS has been designed for safe handling in minimum conditions of sea state 4, Henriksen adds. The manufacturer now intends to demonstrate a scaled-down working model of the system at this year’s Seawork exhibition, to be hosted in Southampton, UK between 11-13 June. The SOLUS system has been developed to meet SOLAS requirements, meaning that it can also be used to assist the launch/recovery of manned boats.