This week sees the commencement of an exciting new era for the iXblue Survey Division and the iXblue Shipyard.
12 iXblue personnel are currently in the beautiful city of Tauranga, New Zealand, adding the final touches to the DriX unmanned survey vessel. Six of the personnel from iXblue France, joined our Australian / New Zealand team and are enjoying the opportunity to explore another wonderful corner of the globe.
Last week, we received DriX number 4, after the seven-week voyage from Marseille to Tauranga inside a 40-foot container. With thanks to the specialist handling of our freight agent, the DriX arrived without a scratch on it. After a day or so of reassembly, the DriX was launched into southern hemisphere waters for the first time yesterday from the new Tauranga Slipway facility.
DriX 4 Modifications
The DriX project team then slipped into action to undertake several days of testing and trialing of various improvements and modifications that had been progressed on the French based development DriX over recent weeks. These included
- the testing of an automated underway profiling system,
- refinement to the track keeping autopilot system and
- refinement of the infra-red and laser scanning system that comprise the autonomous collision avoidance capability.
Survey Vessel Fitout
Whilst the DriX is being put through its paces, the iXblue Kongsberg EM2040C multibeam echo sounder system is being installed onboard the Pacific 7 vessel – the 30m MV SILENT WINGS. This vessel will survey alongside the DriX during the months of November and December for a survey in the South Pacific.
The SILENT WINGS will be the host vessel for DriX and with both vessels working at capacity, we hope to survey in excess of 350 nautical miles per day. The survey team will operate on a 24/7 basis for a six-week period with the only down time being Sundays – which is a mandated day of rest in the Kingdom of Tonga.
Over the coming days, a Dimensional Control survey for each vessel will be undertaken whilst each vessel is on the hard stand.
They will then be returned to the harbour for several days of patch testing and system calibration. All being well, they will be making passage to the Kingdom of Tonga in early November for what we hope will be the first of many successful survey projects with unmanned survey vessel technology.
It's a very exciting time for the iXblue team and for the future of hydrographic survey.