Start-up Zelim has partnered with naval architect Chartwell Marine to deliver the “world’s first” remotely operated rescue vessel for use in offshore wind.
Offshore energy sites present a hazardous environment for personnel and vessel crews.
Combined with the increasing distance of projects from shore, many traditional maritime support methods are rendered ineffective.
Additionally, offshore windfarms typically lie out of the normal operating zones of such rescue vessels.
Following consultations with key offshore survival organisations, Zelim and Chartwell have designed the ‘Survivor Class’ to introduce an “essential new stage” in the rescue chain and to “rapidly recover” man over boards (MOBs).
The vessel has been designed ‘casualty first’, with accessible features to address limited mobility challenges.
That includes a pioneering rescue conveyor for recovering MOBs from the water, easy-open door handles, an air-conditioned cabin, and a helicopter pick up zone.
Meanwhile, as an unmanned, remotely operated vessel, deployment time is reduced, Zelim said.
After contesting a competitive bid process, the consortium has secured Innovate UK funding on two separate occasions, accelerating project timelines to complete the preliminary design phase.
The last tranche of funding is being used to deliver the full design and shipyard tender, build oversight and testing.
The vessel will be mounted onto offshore structures and deployed into the water via a 25m free fall following MOB or helicopter downing incidents.
Andy Page, managing director of Chartwell Marine, said: “Designing the Survivor Class gave us a great opportunity to apply our offshore wind expertise to new challenges, such as free-fall water entry and casualty recovery.
“For example, the two waterjets will activate prior to contact with the water to stop the vessel drifting backwards into the turbine. Zelim has shown strong leadership in making offshore wind a safer industry, and we are excited to see where the partnership goes next.”
Sam Mayall, founder of Zelim, said: “As offshore wind continues to scale up to meet the growing global demand for clean energy, ensuring the safety of seafarers and technicians is critical. That’s why we are working with Chartwell Marine and other industry partners to develop a cohesive offshore survival system, beyond the vessel itself, engaging with operators and regulators to make sure it is fit to save lives in some of the most challenging conditions imaginable.”