Preparation and Launch

Before the SeaCat is sent out, its mission needs to be defined. This mission programming is performed by means of a ruggedised laptop or dedicated console. A typical mission plan consists of waypoints that are specified using a digital sea chart of the sea area to be covered (ECDIS). For each track between these points the operator can specify the operational mode of the payload sensors individually (i.e. on/off, range setting). The resulting plan is then stored and ready to be transferred to the vehicle.

SeaCat and Planning Station are interconnected by an Interface Box (IF Box) that bridges the Planning Station to the SeaCat and additional equipment. The IF Box is equipped with WIFI (2.4 GHz) and an Iridium receiver to establish contact to the SeaCat. The radio antennas are typically installed at a position as high as possible on the vessel. Other systems that can optionally be connected to the IF Box comprise an acoustic modem, a GPS antenna, and a portable control unit.

The communication between Planning Station and IF Box is established via WIFI. Alternatively, a CAT5 network cable can be installed between Planning Station and IF Box.

 

In the next step of mission preparation, the SeaCat is switched on and the north-seeking process of the navigation system starts. After a few minutes, the initial alignment is done and the SeaCat is ready for launch. A pre-launch-check is performed to verify the functionality of flaps, thrusters and selected sensors.

 

When the check is passed successfully, the SeaCat is launched into the sea. In manual mode, it is guided manually on an alignment track in order to perform the fine alignment of the navigation system. Depending on the current sea state, this might take up to 15 minutes. After finishing this process, the SeaCat is ready for further operation and the mission can be started.