Remotely operated fireboat to tackle port fires
To address the evolving safety and security needs of modern ports, Vancouver based naval architects and marine engineers Robert Allan Ltd., and international marine technology specialist Kongsberg Maritime are collaborating on the development of a radically new remotely-operated fireboat that claims to allow first responders to attack dangerous port fires more aggressively and safely than ever before.
The un-crewed RALamander fireboat will offer in-close firefighting and ‘eye in the fire’ capability that keeps marine firefighting professionals out of harm's way. Fires involving containers, petrochemicals, shore-side structures or vessels can be attacked more quickly in situations where toxic smoke or explosion risk may delay or even prevent manned assets from responding effectively. RALamander can serve as a force multiplier with conventional firefighting assets, or be deployed on its own.
The Kongsberg Maritime control & communications system will feature a robust high-bandwidth, low latency wireless link to a semi-portable RALamander operator console that can be located on a manned fireboat, or other vessel of opportunity such as a tug or pilot boat. In common with other Kongsberg autonomous control systems, the versatile architecture of RALamander’s control system will leave the door open to a range of autonomy levels, which are configurable or future-upgradable to suit the operator or port’s evolving needs.
The first in the series, the 20m RALamander 2000, will be equipped with FiFi1 capability with a total pumping capacity of 2400m3/hr with optional foam. A retractable mast can bring one of the three monitors to a high point of attack for shipboard or dock fires. A range of auto functions is planned for firefighting, including dynamic positioning, water spray target holding, and ‘line protection’ where RALamander automatically moves back and forth along a line while directing protective spray cover on shore structures or vessels threatened by a fire. A low-profile design also makes it possible to attack under-wharf and marina fires remotely. If a burning vessel poses a threat to its surroundings, RALamander can be used to tow it a safe distance by means of its Grapnel Emergency Towing (GET) system.
RALamander’s versatility may also offer new ways to maintain and operate a port firefighting asset. Since RALamander can be operated from a safe stand-off distance during an incident, commercial entities such as tug or pilot boat operators may be in a better position to offer fire protection services to a port since personnel are less exposed to risks.
Drawing together Robert Allan Ltd.’s extensive fireboat design experience and Kongsberg Maritime’s world-leading expertise in control, communications and sensing in marine applications, RALamander 2000 represents a significant step-change and improvement in port firefighting capability and safety. With maximum flexibility built into the design from the start, the RALamander series will offer all the advantages of remotely-operated fire response in a customisable system to suit a port’s needs for capability and cost.
By Jake Frith
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