British startup unveils first hydrogen-powered autonomous ship


Lloyd’s Register has given Approval in Principle to ACUA Ocean, a UK-based developer of marine autonomous surface ships, for its hydrogen system, control engineering system, and electrical power distribution systems on the world’s first zero-emission hydrogen-powered MASS.

In March 2022, Factory Acceptance Testing was conducted on the prototype systems as part of the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition, which was financed by the Department for Transport and delivered in cooperation with Innovate UK.

ACUA has been working under a Connected Places Catapult Transport Research Innovation Grant (TRIG) to automate the onboard hydrogen systems, giving both improved safety and decision-making processes.

John Kecsmar, a prominent naval architect and SWATH designer for Ad Hoc Marine Designs Ltd., has designed ACUA Ocean’s new H-USV. The vessel is propelled by 6,000 liters of liquid hydrogen, resulting in greater power, dependability, and endurance, and fulfilling the UK Maritime Strategy’s aim to zero-emission propulsion by 2025.

The vessel has a high level of redundancy at sea and was built to operate in open ocean conditions in collaboration with Lloyd’s Register and industry regulators. The ACUA Ocean vessel provides a robust platform for the deployment of sensors and payloads for a variety of ocean monitoring and protection applications.

Commenting on the announcement, ACUA CEO Neil Tinmouth said, “Working with Lloyd’s Register and Ad Hoc Marine Designs has enabled us to ensure the vessel aligns with regulatory standards and operational requirements. As the adoption of net-zero propulsion systems accelerates so we see a clear strategic advantage as the first to market.”

Nedim Husomanovic

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