US Coast Guard to Trial Autonomous Patrol Boat

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

September 29, 2020

(Photo: Metal Shark, Sea Machines)

(Photo: Metal Shark, Sea Machines)

The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Research and Development Center (RDC) will run an autonomous patrol boat through its paces to gauge whether the innovative technology installed on board can be used to support personnel in executing Coast Guard missions.

The vessel to be tested is a Metal Shark welded-aluminum 29 Defiant craft, the latest product of the Louisiana-based shipbuilder’s “Sharktech Autonomous Vessels” division to be equipped with the SM300 autonomous-command and remote-helm technology from Boston-based autonomous technology developer Sea Machines. 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. 

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. Following the Hawaii demonstrations, the 29-foot monohull pilothouse vessel will be returned to the RDC’s New London, Conn. facility, where it will be used in additional testing to investigate application to various Coast Guard missions.

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 the USCG’s operational forces and provides premier analysis and decision support to enhance operational performance across all Coast Guard missions.

“As the premier USCG facility performing research, development, test and evaluation in support of the service’s major missions, the RDC team is eager to observe Sea Machines’ system in action,” said USCG’s Derek Meier, assistant demonstration director. “The exercises will ultimately help us determine how, when, and if this innovative technology can be used to support personnel who are executing a variety of Coast Guard activities.”

“Since the launch of our Sharktech Autonomous Vessels division in 2018 we have been working to position Metal Shark for the autonomy revolution,” said Metal Shark CEO Chris Allard. “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.”

In 2019, Sea Machines partnered with Metal Shark to make available the Sharktech 29 Defiant vessel to commercial markets, under Metal Shark’s stock boat program. Most recently, in July, Sea Machines partnered with Huntington Ingalls Industries to accelerate the deployment of self-piloting technologies in the rising market of unmanned naval boats and ships.


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