The Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS400), which is attempting an autonomous crossing of the Atlantic, was forced on May 30th to divert for the second time on the voyage, due to a mechanical failure.
The organizers of the voyage said that the technology was working correctly but that the MAS 400 was now heading to Halifax, Nova Scotia to investigate and fix a new mechanical issue.
ProMare, the maritime research organization conducting the voyage, said that “over May 28th-29th, MAS developed an issue with the charging circuit for the generator starter batteries. On May 30th the team had to switch to the backup navigation PC.”
After switching to the backup system, the decision was made to head for Halifax, where the craft was scheduled to arrive on June 4th or 5th.
The dashboard tracking the vessel’s progress showed that it was continuing to make between approximately 1 and 3 knots. Once the vessel reached Halifax, the organizers would decide if it could continue to its planned destination of Washington DC.
The Mayflower left the UK at the end of April and, despite being forced to divert twice during the voyage, will still achieve the objective for an unmanned crossing of the Atlantic.
ProMare said that it was “learning a tremendous amount about how to design, build, and operate autonomous vessels.”
On May 6th, approximately a week and a half into the voyage that was expected to last about three weeks, ProMare reported the first mechanical failure of the voyage. The vessel diverted to Horta in the Azores where engineers determined it was an isolation switch related to the generator aboard that had failed. They refuelled and ran additional tests. After bad weather eased the vessel departed Horta on May 20th. This was the first remote start of the vessel.
By May 30th the Mayflower had travelled nearly 2,900 miles, completing 70 percent of the voyage. There were 1,300 miles to go to reach Virginia, from where it would navigate to Washington D.C.
Promare has not given a new planned arrival date at the US capital.