One of the new technologies that is being developed is
looking at how unmanned vessels can be used to expand capabilities and increase
safety for the operators. A Singapore-based company, Zycraft, announced that it
is developed unmanned fireboats.
According to the company, the market potential for small
unmanned fireboats is great due to large populations and industries living in
proximity to the water. They believe that an unmanned fireboat can provide
enhanced readiness on a 24/7 basis while also optimizing the command and
control of firefighting assets over a large area.
“Our unmanned fireboat will revolutionize the way waterborne
firefighting is done” predicts James Soon, General Manager of Zycraft. He
believes their system will lower operating costs for firefighting operations
while keeping crews away from the frontline dangers of a fire. The company has
recently completed Phase II engineering development of an unmanned fireboat
measuring approximately 26 feet in length.
During Phase I trials that started in 2019 a firefighting
system was installed on the company’s 56-foot Longrunner USV for tests and
evaluation. During those tests, Zycraft proved its remote firefighting software
algorithm and control of the USV to verify the proper protocols needed for
effective unmanned firefighting. Using an 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
maneuvers 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
enabled the USV to autonomously carry out surveillance around the simulated
boat on fire while synchronizing the fire monitor’s water jet landing point
with the USV’s electro-optic system. An operator at the command center focused
on the fire fighting with a clear picture of the prevailing situation. This
allowed the shore control center to decide where and when to commence
The new 26-foot unmanned fireboat will have twin
remote-controlled fire monitors each capable of over 200 feet in reach. One
monitor will be 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
Zycraft is currently finalizing details for the construction
of the first vessel to showcase to customers.