Damen FCS Demonstrates Versatility Again In Collaborative Technology Project
A new approach has been tested for the search and rescue in the North by Damen Shipyards Group in collaboration with Delft Dynamics and Next Ocean. This included the testing of Delft Dynamics RH3 drone (RH-3 Swift), a fast rescue boat that a Damen Sea Axe Fast Crew Supply (FCS) Vessel which has Next Ocean’s wave and vessel motion predictor launched it.
The aim of the project was to test the drone helicopter operations offshore limits. The Dutch Ministry of Defence funded the test and the Royal Netherlands Navy and the Netherlands Coastguard supported it.
Presently, Delft Dynamics is working on the next stage for the development of its helicopter which is unnamed. It is a drone that has the capacity to go on with observations for about four hours.
The perfect environment for capabilities like this is offshore. After listening to the feasibility study presentation of the company about the launch of a vehicle like this from a vessel, Damen decided to join the project with the advice to add a fast rescue boat to the process.
According to the partners, the most challenging would be the drone’s launch and landing and boat in rough seas. On this, the expertise of Next Ocean that is the producer of a wave and vessel motion predictor was called on by Damen.
The radar of the ship is used by the wave prediction system so as to know about the surroundings of the ship in the sea for about 1 nautical mile which helps in the accurate prediction of the wave activity for the next three minutes.
“With this, we can predict when there will be a window of opportunity to launch the drone and the rescue craft. Take-off and landing of the drone take just 30 seconds, for example,” explains Albert Rijkens, Damen High-Speed Craft Portfolio Manager R&D. “The wave prediction system makes this approach feasible and safe.”
“Performing this test was a tremendous success and demonstrated clearly the feasibility of taking off and landing the drone in rough seas, especially with the excellent sea-keeping behaviour of the Damen Sea Axe bow, paving the way for its use in a wide variety of offshore operations, including search and rescue, fishery inspection, border patrol and humanitarian aid missions,” says Delft Dynamics’ COO and Co-Founder Boris Langendoen.
Karel Roozen, Co-Founder of Next Ocean said that the additional data was also provided by the test which would help in the development of the Next Ocean wave prediction system further. “The system is in a state of constant evolution. The more data we collect, the more we can improve on its capabilities. The current version is developed for operations onboard dynamically positioned or slowly (up to approx. 8 knots) moving vessels. Apart from demonstrating the system at low speed, we gathered information during this trial which will help prepare it to operate at up to 25 knots or even higher speeds, paving the way for a whole new set of additional applications.”
This cooperative approach is, according to Albert, the key to innovation. “At Damen, we hold the philosophy of ‘collaborate to innovate’. It’s something we have done for years already. Working together with our partners – particularly start-ups with the innovative ideas they are looking to trial – is an excellent way to look at ways in which technology can help our clients make their maritime operations safer, more efficient and more sustainable.”