Currently, naval helicopters and tiltrotors only take off from carrier ships or ground bases, although they are limited by their combat radius. It is assumed that sea barges will greatly increase the flight range of helicopter technology.
For this reason, the United States Department of Defense (DoD) awarded a contract to Sea Machines Robotics to develop a prototype that will enable commercial ocean service barges as autonomous forward arming and refueling units (FARP). ) for an amphibious maritime projection platform (AMPP).
Ready-to-deploy system kits will include Sea Machines’ SM300 stand-alone command and control systems, barge propulsion, detection, positioning, communication and refueling equipment, and the items needed for global deployment. According to the plans, the kits will allow the autonomous and self-propelled operation of barges available opportunistically to land and refuel military aircraft.
To reduce costs and speed up the project, it is planned to use commercial sea barges to create autonomous support vessels. No other details of the project have yet been revealed.
The concept of autonomous offshore barges is expected to be publicly unveiled in the fourth quarter of 2020 in Washington state. For this project, Sea Machines has partnered with FOSS Maritime, which will provide naval architecture, support engineering and operations management to outfit a remotely operated deck barge to disembark helicopters and host a refueling station. to scale for airplanes, surface ships and shore-based refueling.
“AMPP Autonomous Replenishment Systems will solve the critical logistical challenges of expeditionary missions. We are pleased to enable this innovative capability, which will increase the efficiency and flexibility of the U.S. militarySaid Phil Bourque, Sales Manager for Sea Machines.