ECA Group Unveils Rugged USV for High Seas Operations

Published: 17 Feb 2019

ECA Group INSPECTOR 125 USV

ECA GROUP has announced that, in collaboration with its naval architecture subsidiary MAURIC, it has developed a new USV (Unmanned Surface Vehicle), the INSPECTOR 125, based on an operational manned platform and designed for high seas operations.

Combining a sea-proven platform from MAURIC with an automation kit common to the other USVs in the ECA GROUP range, the INSPECTOR 125 is designed to be unsinkable and highly shock-resistant, with important payload and towing capabilities. This new generation of unmanned naval surface vessel is intended for defense and security missions such as Mine Counter Measures (MCM), anti-submarine warfare (ASW), Intelligence / Surveillance / Reconnaissance (ISR) or Forces support and protection (FSP).

The INSPECTOR 125 is the result of a joint development between ECA and its subsidiary MAURIC. The platform is based on the V2 NG rescue boats designed by MAURIC for the S.N.S.M (Association of French Sea Rescuers). Originally developed in 2008 and modified in 2014, this craft has proved its efficiency during search and rescue operations in the most difficult environmental conditions.

“The choice of the design of the boat was made in response to our extremely high requirements on the survivability of the boat which must be able to intervene at all times and to ensure the safety of the crew and the rescued people, even after possible damage. Thus, the unsinkability of the boat even after damage and her resilience gives her a high level of performance. In addition, the hull, propelled by 2x410hp engines, ensures speed and sea-keeping performances unequaled in this range of boats with regard to the specificity of rescue missions at sea. It is a highly important boat in our fleet. In 2019, we will build 4 new boats of this type,” commented Jean-Christophe Noureau, Technical Director of S.N.S.M.

The naval architects of MAURIC and the engineers of ECA GROUP have developed this robust and sea proven platform to integrate an automation kit featuring autonomous navigation capabilities as well as several launch and recovery systems (LARS) for the various maritime robotics systems developed by ECA GROUP – Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs), towed sonars (TSSS or TSAS), inspection and destruction remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) – or equipment from other manufacturers.

“For us, this alliance of our respective know-how in robotics and naval architecture has been particularly fruitful for designing the INSPECTOR 125. We innovated each one in our field to obtain a new generation of naval surface drone. It is more resistant and enduring, more powerful, more autonomous and more modular,” said Pascal Lemesle, General Manager of MAURIC.

With a length of 12.3m and an overall width of 4.2m, the INSPECTOR 125 can carry up to 3 tons of payload. The standard version is equipped with two hydrojets allowing a top speed of over 25nds at full load displacement, and is also offered with two shaft lines and propellers to meet specific towing requirements. Its large rear deck, its mast and underwater pole allow the carrying of many payloads and sensors specific to surveillance, oceanographic survey or mine counter measures missions.

INSPECTOR 125 is able to:

  • Launch and recover in rough seas:
    -a towed sonar such as the ECA GROUP T18-M sonar
    -a medium-sized AUV such as the A18-M AUV
    -identification and / or neutralization ROVs such as the SEASCAN Identification ROV and the K-STER C neutralization ROV. It can carry on its main deck up to 2 SEASCAN and 6 K-STER simultaneously.
  • Tow a mine-sweeping system composed of several electromagnetic and acoustic modules in particularly rough sea conditions
  • Integrate on board or on its hull additional sensors useful for oceanographic monitoring missions and other effectors when operating in “manned” mode with personnel on board

This high payload capacity makes the INSPECTOR 125 a comprehensive and modular tool. It can be operated and deployed from a ship or the shore and is also air-transportable.

As with all ECA GROUP autonomous robotic systems, the INSPECTOR 125 naval surface drone is fully integrated into the UMIS (Unmanned Maritime Integrated System) system as well as the UMISOFT software suite. ECA GROUP also offers LARS (Launch And Recovery Systems) solutions for the deployment and recovery of INSPECTOR 125 from a 50m+ mothership such as its OCTOPODA vessels.

Posted by Mike Ball Mike is our resident technical editor here at Unmanned Systems Technology. Combining his passions for teaching, advanced engineering and all things unmanned, Mike keeps a watchful eye over everything related to the unmanned technical sector. With over 10 years’ experience in the unmanned field and a degree in engineering, Mike’s been heading up our technical team here for the last 8 years.