New Zealand Navy trials renewable-powered USV

Renewable-powered uncrewed surface vessel (USV) has been launched in Auckland for two weeks of sea-going experience for New Zealand Navy’s personnel to gain experience in its capabilities.

New Zealand Navy

Named Bellona after the RNZN’s post-war cruiser, the 6.8-metre-long USV utilises solar, wind and wave energy to generate up to 5 knots of propulsion power which allows the vessel to remain at sea for several weeks while conducting a range of maritime tasks.

Bellona will initially operate during the day in Auckland Harbour escorted by navy personnel in a RHIB before it undertakes overnight sailings in the Hauraki Gulf, where it will be monitored around the clock by staff in a control room at the Devonport Naval Base.

The USV is equipped with navigational lights, an Automatic Identification System (AIS) and an array of sensors that will allow safe control of the vessel, and identification of other water users. The sensors include radar and 360-degree electro-optic and infra-red cameras, according to the navy.

The USV will be constantly monitored and operated from a control room at Devonport Naval Base. Communication with the control room is through mobile phone signal while close to shore or via high- and low- bandwidth satellite when further offshore.

The vessel is designed and manufactured by Sydney-based Ocius Technology, which has already sold a number of USVs to the Australian Defence Force and worked with Australian Border Force and other energy and scientific agencies.