The past year has seen OSV owners and operators working with class societies and technology providers to trial innovative DP technologies
Speaking ahead of his presentation at the Middle East Offshore Support Journal Conference in April, ABS senior research engineer Dr Demetres Armanes highlighted DP systems as an area particularly well-suited to remote monitoring and condition analysis.
“We are starting to see applications for remote monitoring tying in themes of health or performance states … specifically for the DP systems,” says Dr Armanes. “I think this is an indication of how most technology can be made more specific to an OSV.”
In April, Topaz Energy and Marine tested Wärtsilä subsidiary Guidance Marine’s SceneScan, a targetless laser sensor for DP, in a 90-day trial on DP class 2-capable platform supply vessel (PSV) Topaz Citadel.
SceneScan is a high-accuracy rotating laser sensor that provides positional data to allow automated approach and station keeping relative to a structure or vessel. The tracking information is relative to natural or man-made structures within the sensor’s field of view and matches its current observation of the scene against a map generated from previous observations.
The trials were carried out offshore Azerbaijan, where Topaz operates a fleet of support vessels for BP.
Testing and evaluation of the system was carried out during actual DP operations around offshore platforms in the Caspian Sea, according to Guidance Marine head of business development Andrew Stead.
Following the trial offshore Azerbaijan, Topaz decided to keep the system on Topaz Citadel and said it planned to install similar systems on other vessels, beginning with an upgrade of existing DP sensor systems on four vessels.
Topaz operations director Paul Jarkiewicz says: “We have no doubt that the SceneScan system will add considerable value to the DP operations of our versatile and digitised fleet.”
June saw Subsea 7, Kongsberg Maritime and DNV GL trialling a remote verification tool for testing DP system compliance.
Kongsberg Maritime’s DP Digital Survey (KM-DPDS) application was tested on dive support vessel Seven Kestrel during the pilot.
Testing covered both class survey requirements and standard international industry tests. The tool takes data directly from a vessel’s control systems and transmits it to a secure cloud, where it is assessed by expert verifiers, class and vendors.
Normally verification trials for DP systems on vessels require the presence of a surveyor, DP failure mode and effects analyses consultants, coupled with equipment vendor experts. Co-ordinating and conducting these tests with multiple partners can cause a vessel to be taken out of service for days.
Subsea 7 marine technical manager Bryce Heslop says: “This technology gives us a higher data quality than we currently receive through manual trials and gives us a permanent tamper-proof recording of the event.
“The test methodology used within the application empowers the crew to take ownership of the system and gives them greater confidence in the DP system setup on board their vessel.”
Mr Heslop says the methodology will lead to a “more robust survey” and “greater safety through familiarisation within our fleet.”
The falling costs of DP technology are also seeing it become an affordable option for smaller and unmanned vessels. For example, Shoalbuster vessel Brutus, being built by Damen Shipyards for Herman Senior, has a DP2 system and engines that meet IMO Tier III requirements. Once delivered, Brutus will be used for offshore project support, ocean towage, anchor handling, remote vehicle surveys, mattress installations, mooring, pushing and dredging support.