Water-powered Sabertooth cuts CO₂

Source: press release, 20 April 2021

Wave Energy Test Site (WETS) demonstration, Marine Corps Base, Hawaii
Wave Energy Test Site (WETS) demonstration, Marine Corps Base, Hawaii (illustration: Hibbard Inshore)

Converted energy from waves powering a Saab Seaeye Sabertooth autonomous vehicle operating in seabed residency mode is a major renewable energy breakthrough. Significant savings in support vessel costs and CO2 emissions will result.

Pioneering the concept is C-Power’s SeaRAY Autonomous Offshore Power System (AOPS), which provides offshore power, energy storage, and real-time data communications for resident marine systems.

Trials of the Sabertooth residency concept will take place at the US Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site (WETS) in Hawaii and last 20 days. The SeaRAY AOPS and other static assets will remain deployed for 6 months.

The Sabertooth, owned by Hibbard Inshore, and operated on behalf of C-Power, will repeatedly patrol pre-programmed areas to collect data, before returning to an underwater docking station for cloud upload and battery recharge.

Included in the studies will be seabed analysis, fish densities, infrastructure monitoring and water-column data gathering.

Many sectors will benefit
Many underwater sectors are seen to benefit from this innovative emission-free concept, including marine science and research, defence and security, aquaculture, and offshore energy.

The trials come in partnership with the US Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office, together with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the US Navy.

In particular, testing of the SeaRAY AOPS is included in the Navy’s Coastal Trident 2021 program, which is the largest port and maritime security undertaking in the nation.

For the Navy, the conventional difficulty in conducting underwater infrastructure surveys leaves critical infrastructure vulnerable to sabotage and intelligence gathering threats in this hidden environment. Frequently refreshed high-definition sensor data can alert remote operators to possible intruder activity.

Operating the Sabertooth will demonstrate that subsea residence enables a sustained presence to secure underwater port infrastructure and its ability to support efforts to protect shipping against underwater explosive devices.

For the trials, the Sabertooth will be equipped with an R2Sonic Sonic 2024 multibeam echosounder, 2G Robotics ULS-500 PRO Laser Scanner and camera, and the ASL AZFP 70,120 & 200 kHz Acoustic Zooplankton Fish Profiler.

Uniquely Hovering
The success of the multi-role, 3,000-metre rated Saab Seaeye Sabertooth comes from it being the world’s only roaming and hovering system that can operate in both fully autonomous (AUV) and tethered (ROV) modes, enabling fully flexible dual operations from a single platform.

Hibbard will deploy the Sabertooth for other significant projects this year including research at Lake Michigan by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) concerning the invasive zebra mussel that adversely impacts the US Great Lakes Region at a cost of USD 500 million a year.