SAFE Boats International introduced earlier this week the autonomous hydrographic survey vessel, Merlin. The 23-meter semi-displacement monohull design was developed in collaboration with Mythos AI, Echo81, and World Marine Design.
AFE Boats International has exclusive rights to build the design at their Tacoma, Washington large-craft production facility. Merlin will be a Jones Act-compliant all-aluminum hull powered by a twin Volvo Penta D13 Hybrid-ready System with IPS. As SAFE supports, the vessel can accommodate hydrogen technology supplied by Zero Emission Industries (ZEI).
As claimed by SAFE, both power options offer lower emissions and extended range to perform site assessment surveys at offshore wind energy areas. Three deck levels offer crew and technicians sleeping berths, full bathroom, galley, survey workstation, and a marine mammal observer post on the flybridge.
The aft working deck is equipped with an A-Frame, dual winches, moonpool, and outboard seismic booms. The hull was specifically designed to incorporate sonars with minimal interference while collecting data at a highly efficient pace, SAFE claims. A Seakeeper gyro provides active ride contro. A shallow draft of 1.6m allows the Merlin to perform various survey missions and make port in small or large harbors across the U.S.
According to SAFE, Merlin is the industry’s first geophysical vessel that can be acquired directly from the builder (SAFE Boats International) with a fully integrated geophysical sensor suite configured specifically for U.S. Offshore Wind. Echo81 will provide a single source for sensor service and support, drastically reducing the cost burdens associated with owning and operating survey vessels.
Mythos AI, maritime autonomy provider, is responsible for optimizing Merlin vessels for autonomous survey operations. Mythos AI’s driver assist systems (ADAS) are designed to automate geophysical workflows so that hydrographers and crew are not required to physically be onboard the vessel. As Mythos AI’s technology advances, it will be capable of providing a push-button, long endurance, dock-to-dock, self-driving and self-surveying solution for offshore wind.