ACUA Ocean develops hydrogen-powered uncrewed surface vessel

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British maritime cleantech start-up ACUA Ocean is developing the world’s first long endurance uncrewed surface vessel powered by liquid hydrogen (H-USV).

The project, part of the UK Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition, is being partly funded by grants from the Department for Transport and is being delivered by Innovate UK.

Once operational, the prototype vessel named “Ocean Protector” will be able to spend up to 70 days at sea, with an ability to achieve sprint speeds of 20 knots.

According to the project, unlike existing uncrewed vessels the Ocean Protector H-USV is being designed with endurance and reliability in mind. Scheduled to launch in May, the vessel will focus primarily on marine monitoring and protection.

The Ocean Protector will initially operate in security, safety and environmental data services for the offshore infrastructure sector. Future uses can include anything from border control to marine conservation monitoring.

The team added the system can eliminate hazardous jobs involving long periods at sea, with workers re-skilled into high technology operator roles.

ACUA Ocean, CEO, Neil Tinmouth, said: “ACUA Ocean was founded on the principle of tackling climate change through ground-breaking innovation and a fearless focus on building a cleaner, more ethical and more sustainable maritime technology company.

“We are following in a long line of innovative British maritime companies; committed to investing in small UK based businesses but with a global outlook.

“In naming the vessel the “Ocean Protector” we are reaffirming our commitment to the vital role that ocean biodiversity plays in the battle against climate change, and at the same paying tribute to the brave merchant men and women who have and continue to serve at sea.”

The H-USV is being built by PDL shipbuilders in Porchester, with shipfitting and electrical outfitting contracts being awarded to Lowestoft-based firms SMS and Trident Marine Electrical. While the hydrogen fuel cell is being developed by Proton Motors, headquartered in Newcastle upon Tyne.

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