In a pioneering move toward modernizing maritime operations, the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) is set to trial a 6.8-meter renewable-powered Uncrewed Surface Vessel (USV). The innovative Bluebottle, developed by Sydney-based Ocius Technology, harnesses solar, wind, and wave power for propulsion, ushering in a new era of sustainable and autonomous maritime capabilities.
Applications and Potential
With the ability to operate indefinitely at sea without the need for refueling or crew respite, the USV holds immense potential for tasks within New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the extensive search and rescue area it oversees. The vessel’s adaptability allows for deployment on diverse missions, making it a versatile asset for the RNZN.
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Versatile Transportation and Deployment
HMNZS Aotearoa is facilitating the transportation of Bluebottle from Sydney to Auckland. Once operational, the vessel can be launched and recovered from boat ramps across New Zealand. Furthermore, its modular design permits craning on and off Navy ships, ensuring flexibility in deployment both domestically and during overseas operations.
Innovative Steering Mechanism
In adverse weather conditions, the USV employs a unique flipper and rudder mechanism for steering and propulsion, guaranteeing effective navigation even in the absence of sunlight and wind. With a top speed of five knots, the Bluebottle is engineered to operate in sea states up to 7, showcasing its resilience in challenging maritime environments.
Autonomous Operation and Monitoring
Boasting autonomous capabilities, the USV will be constantly monitored and operated from a control room at Devonport Naval Base. Communication is facilitated through mobile phone signals near the shore and high- and low-bandwidth satellite communication in offshore scenarios.
Collaboration for Maritime Advancements
The RNZN’s collaboration with Ocius Technology marks a significant step toward integrating innovative technologies into its fleet. The trial period aims to provide insights into operating and sustaining uncrewed vessels, fostering valuable experiences to be shared with the Royal Australian Navy and other partner militaries.
The RNZN’s venture into renewable-powered USV trials underscores its commitment to embracing sustainable technologies, ensuring a resilient and efficient maritime force for the challenges of the future.