Rolls-Royce and global towage operator Svitzer have successfully demonstrated the world’s first remotely operated commercial vessel in Copenhagen harbour, Denmark. Earlier this year, one of Svitzer´s tugs, the 28m long Svitzer Hermod, built in Türkiye at one of Sanmar’s custom built, modern tug building yards, safely conducted a number of remotely controlled manoeuvres. From the quay side in Copenhagen harbour the vessel’s captain, stationed at the vessel’s remote base at Svitzer headquarters, berthed the vessel alongside the quay, undocked, turned 360°, and piloted it to the Svitzer HQ, before docking again.

Svitzer Hermod, is of the highly successful Robert Allan Ltd RAstar 2800 series design, nominated by Sanmar as its Terminal class. However, a number of modifications to the standard class were incorporated to meet this customer’s operational needs and other preferences. These include changes to the propulsion equipment, tank capacities, air-conditioning/heating, external fire-fighting arrangements and the addition of IHM (Inventory of Hazardous Materials) notation. Special care was also given to resilient mounting of all engines and essential equipment including hydraulic pipes and insulation of all zones. Sound level measurements have been made in all areas and are well below the contract limit.

Mikael Makinen, Rolls-Royce, President – Marine who witnessed the event said; “It was an honour to be present at what I believe was a world first and a genuinely historic moment for the maritime industry. We’ve been saying for a couple of years that a remotely operated commercial vessel would be in operation by the end of the decade. Thanks to a unique combination of Svitzer’s operational knowledge and our technological expertise, we have made that vision a reality much sooner than we anticipated.”

Svitzer Hermod, a Robert Allan ship design, was built in Türkiye at the Sanmar yard in 2016. It is equipped with a Rolls-Royce Dynamic Positioning System, which is the key link to the remote controlled system. The vessel is also equipped with a pair of MTU 16V4000 M63 diesel engines from Rolls-Royce, each rated 2000 kW at 1800 rpm and giving the vessel a bollard pull of 70 tonnes. It was the first of a six vessel order which brings the total number of Robert Allan designs built by Sanmar to well in excess of 150.

The vessel also features a range of sensors which combine different data inputs using advanced software to give the captain an enhanced understanding of the vessel and its surroundings. The data is transmitted reliably and securely to a Remote Operating Centre (ROC) from where the Captain controls the vessel.

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