USV shallow water survey for Spanish port

USS Inception class USV USS Inception class USV
Industry Database

Hydrographic surveying in very shallow water can be very challenging with a high chance of equipment damage and personnel injury reports Dag Pike.

In these locations, traditional manned survey vessels are not suited to the task often because of draft or underwater obstacles so this was the challenge facing Unmanned Survey Solutions when asked to survey a river area in Tarragona, Spain. For this project they were supported with hardware from Swathe Services.

Located close the Barcelona, the Port of Tarragona was looking to expand its Darsena di Francoli basin further up the river Riu Francoli that flows into the port. The port authority required an initial bathymetric survey and appraisal of a previously uncharted section of this river to assess the site for potential future development. The requirement was for sub-decimetre horizontal positioning accuracy and decimetre depth accuracy. The area comprised extremely shallow sections with submerged rocks, extensive sections of weeds and other hazards so the recently developed Interception class USV from Swathe Services was brought in for the task.

The USS Inception class USV has been developed specifically to cope with surveys in the ultra-shallow water sector. This unmanned hydrographic survey vessel is composed of tough aluminium hulls plus weed cutting propellers in the electric propulsion systems and the option of a variety of payloads. Its lightweight modular design allows for easy transport, mobilisation, deployment and recovery which was necessary for this project with the only suitable site for launching the USV being from a small pontoon.

The payload incorporated a CEE Hydrosystems Cee-Scope, which is a combined single beam echo sounder, a real time kinematic capable Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and a telemetry system. Data was transmitted in real-time back to the shore base where it was recorded in the Hypack survey software. Corrections to the RTK GPS were transmitted from a shore base station setup over an existing nearby benchmark.

The start of the survey was delayed by a rare storm surge before the equipment could be deployed. Once deployed, the USV was remotely piloted from shore with the aid of the Hypack navigation display. At a survey speed of less than 2.5 knots, the total linage required to provide sufficient coverage of the 150,000m2 area was completed within 3 days in depths of less than 50cm in some areas.

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