Directional wave measurements using an autonomous vessel
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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- Geophysical Institute 
An autonomous vessel, the Offshore Sensing Sailbuoy, was used for wave measurements near the Ekofisk oil platform complex in the North Sea (56.5º N, 3.2º E, operated by ConocoPhillips) from 6 to 20 November 2015. Being 100 % wind propelled, the Sailbuoy has two-way communication via the Iridium network and has the capability for missions of 6 months or more. It has previously been deployed in the Arctic, Norwegian Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, but the present study was the first test for wave measurements. During the campaign the Sailbuoy held position about 20 km northeast of Ekofisk (on the lee side) during rough conditions. Mean wind speed measured at Ekofisk during the campaign was 9.8 m/s, with a maximum of 20.4 m/s, with wind mostly from south and southwest. A Datawell MOSE G1000 GPS-based 2 Hz wave sensor was mounted on the Sailbuoy. Mean significant wave height (Hs 1 min) measured was 3 m, whereas maximum Hs was 6 m. Mean wave period was 7.7 s, while maximum wave height, Hmax, was 12.6 m. These measurements have been compared with non-directional Waverider observations at the Ekofisk complex. The agreement between the two data sets was very good, with a mean percent absolute error of 7 % and a linear correlation coefficient of 0.97. The wave frequency spectra measured by the two instruments compared very wel l , except for low Hs (∼1 m), where the motion of the vessel seemed to influence the measurements. Nevertheless, the Sailbuoy performed well during this campaign, and results suggest that it is a suitable platform for wave measurements in a broad range of sea conditions.