Unlocking the Potential for Mini-MASS in UK Waters

(Image credit: Unmanned Survey Solutions)

Unmanned Survey Solutions (USS), in close collaboration with Stehr Consulting Ltd, announces the launch of a groundbreaking project ‘Unlocking the Potential for ‘Mini-MASS’ in UK Waters.’ This innovative initiative, funded by Innovate UK under the Launchpad: Marine and Maritime in the Great South West - R1 MFA competition, aims to revolutionize the smaller Marine Autonomous Surface Ship (MASS) market.

The partnership with Stehr Consulting Ltd brings together a wealth of technical expertise and extensive experience, making this collaboration the perfect fit to address a significant regulatory and certification challenges hindering the widespread adoption of smaller uncrewed surface vessels (USVs) in UK waters.

2 USS Accession 500 USV 01

(Image credit: Unmanned Survey Solutions)

The recent updates to the Workboat Code Edition 3 (WBC3) by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) represent a major step forward, incorporating provisions for Remotely Operated Unmanned Vessels (ROUVs). However, WBC3 predominantly focuses on larger, higher-risk vessels within the sub 24 m market, overlooking the unique characteristics and lower risk associated with ‘Mini-MASS.’ As a result, the current requirements present significant challenges for these smaller vessels, creating a barrier to innovation.

This project aims to break down these barriers by providing a comprehensive open-source report and templates that meticulously analyze WBC3 requirements. These analyses will identify requirements that are:

  • Valid in the context of demonstrating safety for ‘Mini-MASS’.
  • Partially valid.
  • Not valid in the context of demonstrating safety for ‘Mini-MASS’.

For requirements in the latter two categories, the project aims to produce generate generic template safety argument patterns, streamlining the certification process for ‘Mini-MASS’ vessels and informing future policy development.

3 USS Accession ROUV

(Image credit: Unmanned Survey Solutions)

Building on the foundational work of the Surface Autonomy Subgroup of the Future Autonomous at Sea Technologies (FAST) Cluster, the largest marine autonomy cluster in the UK, this project aspires to minimize certification burdens while maintaining safety standards. James Williams, CEO of USS, and chair of the subgroup has championed engagement with the Department for Transport (DfT) and the MCA on ‘Mini-MASS’ matters. The results of this project are expected to unlock the potential of ‘Mini-MASS’ in UK waters, catalyzing business growth, and fostering innovation and economic development in the Southwest’s maritime sector.

USS is committed to driving innovation and economic growth through initiatives like these. We look forward to the transformative impact this project will have on the marine and maritime industry.

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