This brief addresses the problem of controlling the planar position and orientation of an autonomous underactuated surface vessel. Under realistic assumptions, we show, first, that there exists a natural change of coordinates that transforms the whole dynamical system into a cascade nonlinear system, and, second, the control problem of the resulting system can be reduced to the stabilization of a third-order chained form. A time-invariant discontinuous feedback law is derived to guarantee global uniform asymptotic stabilization of the system to the desired configuration. The construction of such a controller is based on the backstepping design approach. A simulation example is included to demonstrate the effectiveness of the suggested approach.
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