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Seabed 2030 Enters Partnership with SEA-KIT to Enhance Ocean Mapping

Seabed 2030
SEA-KIT CEO Ben Simpson (left) and Seabed 2030 Project Director Jamie McMichael-Phillips.

Published Apr 28, 2023 11:15 PM by The Maritime Executive

A new partnership has been announced by The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project with SEA-KIT International - a provider of cutting-edge uncrewed surface vessels (USVs) to the maritime, ocean science and research industries. The partnership will see the two parties join forces to accelerate the mission to map the entire ocean floor before the end of the decade. 

A collaborative project between The Nippon Foundation and the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO), Seabed 2030 seeks to inspire the complete mapping of the world’s ocean by 2030, and to compile all the data into the freely available GEBCO Ocean Map. Seabed 2030 is formally endorsed as a Decade Action of the UN Ocean Decade. GEBCO is a joint programme of the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), and is the only organisation with a mandate to map the entire ocean floor. 

SEA-KIT is a British enterprise providing a range of USV solutions that have broad applications in maritime logistics, environmental management, security and surveillance, offshore asset monitoring, marine inspection and ocean science as well as efficient survey of the ocean floor. Through its collaboration with industry partners, SEA-KIT is committed to driving down costs of geo-data collection, as well as reducing the sector’s carbon emissions.

In 2019 the GEBCO-Nippon Foundation Alumni Team won the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE of $4 million for their entry concept which utilised SEA-KIT’s first X-Class USV build, USV Maxlimer, alongside the Kongsberg Maritime HUGIN Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) System, for efficient, safe and cost-effective seafloor mapping. Among other industry firsts as a proof-of-concept craft, USV Maxlimer was instrumental in the Tonga Eruption Seabed Mapping Project (TESMaP) which explored the undersea impacts of last year’s volcanic eruption in Tonga. The 12-metre vessel was remotely controlled from SEA-KIT’s base in the UK as it gathered data from inside the caldera - an area too dangerous for scientists to go. 

The new partnership will leverage SEA-KIT’s commercially proven and established USV technology to support Seabed 2030’s ambition to map the entire ocean floor. SEA-KIT’s vessels are designed to operate over-the-horizon for extended periods of time, making them ideal for conducting deep-sea surveys in remote and challenging locations. 

“Partnering with SEA-KIT will greatly enable us to expand ocean mapping capabilities,” commented Seabed 2030 Project Director Jamie McMichael-Phillips. “By deploying SEA-KIT’s vessels, we can make headway with data collection in areas that are difficult to access using traditional methods, such as ice-covered waters. This will allow us to make significant progress with mapping the remaining 76 per cent of the ocean floor.” 

Ben Simpson, CEO of SEA-KIT, added: "We are proud to continue our work with Seabed 2030 and delighted to formally join the global effort towards obtaining the definitive map of the ocean floor. A complete map of the seabed is a necessity which will enable us to solve the problems of the future and at SEA-KIT, we believe innovative technology is key to realising the vision of a fully mapped planet with minimal environmental impact.”

All data collected and shared with the Seabed 2030 project is included in the free and publicly available GEBCO global grid.

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