Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
E-mail

 



World's first commercial drone deliveries  to vessels at anchor

2019-03-16

McKeil Marine's Evans Spirit  won the International Bulk Journal's 2016 Ship of the Year Award during the IBJ's Salute to Excellence in the Maritime Bulk Industry gala awards ceremony in London, UK on November 21.
"It's a fantastic way to closeout our 60th anniversary year: having a vessel named after our founder, Evans McKeil, win this prestigious international award," said Steve Fletcher, President and CEO of McKeil Marine.
Acquired by McKeil in 2015, the Evans Spirit is a cargo ship with the shallow draught characters of a tug and barge; however, compared to a tug-and-barge unit, she can transport approximately 40 per cent more cargo about 50 per cent faster on a very similar amount of fuel.  She is in service throughout the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.
Evans Spirit was shortlisted for 2016 Ship of the Year competing with three other vessels: CS Bright, Mitsui OSK Lines, Japan;  Damen Shipyards, Netherlands; and MN Baroque, Swiss Marine, Switzerland. The award is presented to the owner, operator or builder of an outstanding individual bulk ship. Judged on operational efficiency, design innovation, safety and environmental protection, the Evans Spirit was selected as winner. (Photo Paul Beesley).

Wilhelmsen's shore-to-ship Singapore pilot project, launched last week in partnership with Airbus, marked the first deployment of drone technology in real-time port conditions, delivering a variety of small, time-critical items to working vessels at anchorage.

Lifting off from Marina South Pier in Singapore with 3D printed consumables from Wilhelmsen's onshore 3D printing micro-factory, the Airbus Skyways drone navigated autonomously along predetermined 'aerial corridors' in its 1.5 km flight to Eastern Working Anchorage. The drone landed on the deck of the

Swire Pacific Offshore (SPO)'s Anchor Handling Tug Supply (AHTS) vessel, M/V Pacific Centurion and deposited its 1.5 kg cargo without a hitch before returning to its base. The entire delivery, from take-off towards the vessel, to landing back at base, took just ten minutes.

Though small drone delivery trials from tugboats to ship have been conducted before by a number of shipping companies and service providers, shore-to-ship delivery of this range and scope has never been explored, prior to this trial.

Commenting on the successful first delivery flight, Marius Johansen, VP Commercial, Wilhelmsen Ships Agency says, "The now proven, seamless operation of drone deliveries from shore-to-ship, in one of the world's busiest ports, proves the hard work, investment and faith we, and indeed our partners, placed in the Agency by Air drone delivery project over the past two years was not misplaced."
Offering a more cost effective, quicker and safer means of delivering, small, time-critical items to vessels, Wilhelmsen sees delivery by drones, rather than launch boats, as part and parcel of their continued evolution of the agency business.

Johansen adds, "Delivery of essential spares, medical supplies and cash to Master via launch boats, is an established part of our portfolio of husbandry services, which we provide day in and day out, in ports all over the world. Modern technology such as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) is just a new tool, albeit a very cool one, with which we can push our industry ever forward and improve how we serve our customers."
Less labour dependent than delivery via launch, autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) can potentially reduce delivery costs by up to 90% in some ports and have a smaller carbon footprint than launch boats.

Signing a unique MOU with aeronautics company Airbus in June 2018, Wilhelmsen was tasked with setting up the necessary maritime and port operations, gaining relevant approvals from port authorities, with Airbus the overall Skyways system architect and provider, contributing its expertise in aeronautical vertical lift solutions to develop the UAS for shore-to-ship deliveries.

"We are thrilled to launch the first trial of its kind in the maritime world. Today's accomplishment is a culmination of months of intense preparation by our dedicated team, and the strong collaboration with our partner, as we pursue new terrain in the maritime industry," says Leo Jeoh, Airbus Skyways Lead.

The ongoing pilot trial will for now, focus on offshore supply vessels at anchorage 1.5 km from the pier. With operational safety as a priority, flights will be limited to this distance for the time being, before the flight range is gradually ­­extended as far as 3 km from the shore.   ­­
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) is facilitating the trial, which started in late November 2018, through the interim use of Marina South Pier as the launching and landing point for Airbus's delivery drone. At the same time, MPA has designated anchorages for vessels to anchor off Marina South for the trial. The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore is also working with Wilhelmsen and Airbus to ensure safety of the trials.

A number of customers have already committed to the project including, Optimum Marine Management, Fleet Management, Zeaborn Ship Management, Pola East, SK Shipping, and sister company Wilhelmsen Ship Management.   

 
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner