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Autonomous Nav System Receives Green Light for Use on Foss Tug

Rachael Allen
The Rachael Allen (Foss / Sea Machines)

Published Aug 23, 2022 7:54 PM by The Maritime Executive

A Foss tug based in San Francisco has received approval from ABS for the use of an autonomous navigation and enhanced situational awareness system. The Rachael Allen, the newest ship-assist tug in the Foss fleet, is fitted with Sea Machines' SM300 autonomous and remote navigation suite. Her crew will use the system during transits and loitering, and Foss plans to try out remote piloting from a shoreside control station as well.  

“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 project manager. 

The SM300 is capable of autonomous navigation for a wide variety of operations (if not just yet for linehandling). Sea Machines suggests that it could be used to combat crew fatigue during long transits or idle periods, either by taking off some of the workload or by augmenting situational awareness. 

ABS previously approved the company's SM200 remote-control system for ATB tug applications, where it is used as a man-portable "bridge wing" control station to maneuver the tug in and out of the notch. 

Autonomous solutions are increasingly finding their way into the workboat world, including select applications for tugboats. Keppel O&M and ABB recently trialed an autonomous system aboard a tug in Singapore's busy anchorage, testing out its responses in complex collision-avoidance scenarios. Crowley's future electric tug, the eWolf, will deliver with an ABB autonomous navigation system. And last year, Sea Machines conducted a 1,000-mile autonomous tug voyage in Germany and Denmark, the first trip of its kind; the vessel was overseen remotely from Boston.