Sea Machines’SM300 system aboard the Foss Maritime tug Rachael Allen has achieved a key milestone. The American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) verified the design of the Foss harbor tug outfitted with the Sea Machines SM300 autonomy system. This follows the established process of new technology qualification, document evaluation in accordance with ABS Rules and Guides, a successful product review and shows that Sea Machines’ technology conforms with ABS’ requirements addressing use aboard.

Rachael Allen will first leverage the Sea Machines’ autonomy system for routine transit and stand-by operations, and then trial remote piloting from a shore-based command center. The SM300 transit autonomy and station keeping are provided by interfacing with the Kongsberg-MTU propulsion system controls.

Sea Machines has previously earned full approval from ABS for its SM200 commercial wireless helm for installation aboard a class of U.S.-flag tugboats that support articulated tug-barge (ATB) sets. 

The SM300 installed on Rachael Allen is the result of close collaboration between three U.S.- based companies: Sea Machines, Foss and ABS. This cooperation by a software company, marine transportation provider and classification society highlights the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration in bringing emerging technology solutions into commercial operations and enhancing productivity and safety by addressing issues like crew fatigue during long transits or idle periods.

“Sea Machines worked closely alongside ABS and Foss to yield this most recent approval, which moves our entire industry yet another step closer to widespread adoption of autonomous marine technologies,” Michael G. Johnson, CEO of Sea Machines, said in a statement announcing the certification society’s approval. “Earning this approval demonstrates our unwavering commitment to ensuring that these technologies are utilized safely, while making our industries more competitive and productive.” 

“As part of our 'Always Safe, Always Ready' culture, Foss is pleased to be providing the SM300 system for additional crew and vessel safety through the enhanced situational awareness it will bring to our operations,” said Dan Cole, Foss’s project manager. 

“Autonomous technology continues to advance at pace and ABS is committed to supporting its introduction to the industry. That’s why we are proud to support the Foss tug equipped with Sea Machines’ SM300 system and work with industry leaders all over the world on the approval of this technology,” said ABS’s Gareth Burton, vice president of technology.

Rachael Allen is deployed to Foss Maritime, in California, where it provides tanker escort and ship assists for Foss’s customers.

The SM300 is the flagship of Sea Machines’ SM Series of products, which provide marine operators an array of autonomous and captain-assistance capabilities. The products are available for sale and installation in newbuilds or retrofits for a wide variety of applications, including maritime transportation and support, such as fast support vessels and OSVs, which also spend significant time at sea transiting and loitering. 

Sea Machines plans to continue its engineering development and working with ABS for design review of the SM300 in the coming months.