The Coast Guard has awarded a contract to Louisiana-based shipbuilder Metal Shark and Boston-based autonomous technology developer Sea Machines to supply an autonomous test vessel to the agency's Research and Development Center (RDC).
The welded-aluminum 29 Defiant craft is the latest product of Metal Shark’s Sharktech Autonomous Vessels division to be equipped with Sea Machines SM300 autonomous-command and remote-helm technology. The new vessel offers a full range of advanced capabilities including transit autonomy, collaborative autonomy, active ride control and collision avoidance, and remote-control vessel monitoring.
As the Coast Guard’s primary facility performing research, development, and test evaluation in support of the service’s major missions, the RDC helps to transition innovative technologies into its operational forces. During exercises scheduled for October off the coast of Hawaii, the RDC team will test and evaluate the Sharktech vessel’s autonomous capabilities for their potential in supporting USCG surveillance, interdiction, patrol, and other missions. The new vessel will then be homeported at the RDC’s facility in New London, Conn.
“Since the launch of our Sharktech Autonomous Vessels division in 2018, we have been working to position Metal Shark for the autonomy revolution,” Metal Shark CEO Chris Allard said in a statement announcing the contract. “We are committed to the advancement of autonomous technology, through our relationships with leading autonomy suppliers as well as through our own R&D, and we are engaged with multiple customers, from the USCG, the Department of Defense, and commercial operators. With this latest delivery, Metal Shark is proud to play a role in the Coast Guard’s autonomous technology R&D efforts.”
“Sea Machines is proud to actively support the Department of Defense across a variety of projects, including this important demonstration being conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard,” said Sea Machines’ Phil Bourque, director, sales. “Our systems are being rapidly adopted by government and commercial operators alike, offering increases in on-water productivity and predictability, while reducing operational risk.”