A Singapore-based Unmanned Surface Vessels (USV) specialist has completed Phase II engineering development of an 8m unmanned fireboat.


Rendering of the new Zycraft 8m unmanned fireboat. Photo: Zycraft

Zycraft USV PL’s unmanned fireboat will have twin remote controlled fire monitors each capable of 70 m reach, with one monitor installed on a telescopic mast for greater reach. An engine driven fire pump provides 1500 gpm flow at 150 psi. The fireboat is powered by a single diesel engine and waterjet to give the boat a max speed of 35 knots. A drop-down thruster provides the heading precision needed during firefighting.

James Soon, general manager of Zycraft said that details are being finalised for construction of the first vessel to showcase to customers. He stressed: “The market potential for small unmanned fireboats is great due to large populations and industries living next to the water. An unmanned fireboat provides enhanced readiness on a 24/7 basis. It also optimises the command and control of firefighting assets over a large area and leads to lower operating costs. Our unmanned fireboat will revolutionalize the way waterborne firefighting is done.”

Phase 1 work

Phase I started in 2019, when a fire fighting system was introduced into Zycraft’s 17 m Longrunner USV for tests and evaluation. During Phase I, Zycraft proved its remote firefighting software algorithm and control of the USV to verify proper protocols needed for effective unmanned firefighting. Using a Unifire Force 50 remote controlled fire monitor installed at the bow, the Longrunner USV successfully navigated its way to a simulated boat on fire at sea, and executed unmanned firefighting manoeuvres around the boat. Using an electrically driven pump with 60 m3/hour flow rate, a shooting distance of 35 m was achieved.

The fire-fighting software developed and patented by Zycraft enables the USV to autonomously carry out surveillance around the simulated boat on fire whilst synchronising the fire monitor’s water jet landing point with the USV’s electro-optic system. An operator at the command centre focused on the fire fighting with a clear picture of the prevailing situation. This allowed the shore control centre to decide where and when to commence firefighting operations.

By Rebecca Jeffrey