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Wilhelmsen Invests in Unmanned Subsea Survey Vessels

reach subsea
Illustration courtesy Reach Subsea

Published Feb 17, 2022 10:01 PM by The Maritime Executive

Wilhelmsen is investing in a new high-tech R&D effort to carry out subsea survey and inspection operations using an unmanned surface vessel platform. By purchasing a stake in offshore survey and inspection company Reach Subsea, Wilhelmsen will help launch the Reach Remote concept, conceived and developed in partnership with Massterly and Kongsberg Maritime. 

The Reach Remote concept was launched in early 2021 with support from state R&D fund Innovation Norway. Reach says that it is on track for the delivery of its first two USVs in 2023. By 2025, the company hopes to provide a variety of subsea services from a "low-emission, cost-effective, remote, and autonomous fleet." The concept is roughly similar to Ocean Infinity's Armada project, which is also developing autonomous USVs to host and deploy AUV and ROV survey assets without onboard crew. 

Reach's USVs will be operated by the control centers set up by Massterly, the Kongsberg-Wilhelmsen joint venture that also serves the Yara Birkeland and ASKO autonomous-vessel projects. Real-time operator control and autonomous operations will both be incorporated in the design.

The target markets for Reach Remote include subsea oil and gas services, offshore wind, deep-sea mining, carbon storage, offshore aquaculture and environmental surveillance and data gathering, according to Reach. 

Reach Subsea is an established ROV and offshore construction vessel operator, and it has been expanding its capabilities into survey, data processing, and field monitoring for carbon storage and hydrocarbons. Wilhelmsen has taken a 21 percent stake in the company to support the commercialization of the Reach Remote concept. Wilhelmsen will also be granted warrants that - if it chooses to exercise them - would increase its stake to 33 percent.