Sulmara Teams Up with Saildrone to Use USVs to Expand Offshore Energy Around the World

Sulmara Subsea has ordered 10 Saildrone Voyagers to bring low-carbon USV-based survey and inspection to the global offshore energy sector.

Saildrone and Sulmara Subsea have signed a contract to deploy 10 Saildrone Voyager uncrewed surface vehicles (USVs) to perform survey operations around the world for the offshore energy sector. This is one of the largest single orders for unmanned vehicles in the survey sector, marking a new era for USV operations. The vehicles will be operated from remote operation centers in Glasgow, UK, San Francisco, CA, and Saildrone’s new Ocean Mapping Headquarters in St. Petersburg, FL, in the US, and Singapore.

The contract also establishes a joint working group to drive the adoption of low-carbon USV-based survey and inspection across the global offshore energy sector, removing the reliance on manned vessels and ultimately lowering the carbon footprint of energy generation offshore.

Sulmara is the only multi-platform USV operator delivering agile, disruptive, and innovative services to the offshore energy sector globally. “We aim to change what the future will say about offshore energy, because environmental impact doesn’t stay offshore,” said Sulmara CEO Kevin McBarron. “Collaboration is key in advancing technologies and reducing costs to both our clients and the planet. Having Saildrone as a like-minded partner on this journey is key in enabling Sulmara to meet our commitments to the Carbon Pledge and beyond.”

Saildrone VP Ocean Mapping Brian Connon and Sulmara CEO Kevin McBarron at Oceanology International in London with a Saildrone Explorer
Saildrone VP Ocean Mapping Brian Connon and Sulmara CEO Kevin McBarron at Oceanology International in London March 15, 2022.

The 33-foot Voyager is the latest addition to Saildrone’s fleet of USVs. It carries an impressive payload for survey operations, including high-resolution MBES and Innomar SBP systems, and is the only survey USV that can deliver long-duration IHO-compliant multibeam mapping surveys and ocean data collection at depths up to 985 feet (300 m). 

With an operational endurance of up to 90 days without a crewed support vessel, unprecedented for any IHO-compliant survey USV, the Voyager will drive further innovation in data acquisition and reporting systems delivering improved efficiency and real-time quality control far beyond what is currently capable from uncrewed survey platforms in the sector. Additionally, the Voyager carries sensors for acoustic and atmospheric ocean data and maritime security payloads. 

The Voyager is a larger version of Saildrone’s 23-foot (7 m) Explorer, the most proven USV platform on the market. Saildrone’s Explorer fleet has sailed over 750,000 nautical miles from the Arctic to the Antarctic and spent more than 17,000 days at sea in the harshest ocean conditions on the planet. Saildrone’s 72-foot (22 m) Surveyor is capable of IHO-compliant multibeam mapping down to 23,000 feet (7,000 m).

“We are thrilled to announce our collaboration with Sulmara. High-resolution maps of the seabed are essential to help protect and grow the blue economy and facilitate sustainable aquaculture and offshore energy,” said Saildrone founder and CEO Richard Jenkins. “Uncrewed systems can do far more, at far lower costs than traditional approaches. We are very excited to operationalize our new Voyager fleet, with Sulmara, in the energy industry.”

Saildrone’s mission is to make ocean intelligence cost-effective at scale, with comprehensive turnkey data solutions for ocean mapping, ocean data, and maritime security. With proprietary software applications that transform data into actionable insights and intelligence, Saildrone provides near-real-time data from any ocean on earth, 24/7/365.

Saildrone and Sulmara are exhibiting together at Oceanology International 2022 in London, UK, March 15 – 17, Global Offshore Wind 2022 in Manchester, June 21 – 22, and Future Lab at the Festival of Speed in Goodwood, UK, June 23 – 26.


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