2020 has seen progress in vital research that addresses critical safety issues in passenger shipping, reducing the risk of flooding, groundings and collisions
For many years, the shipping industry has looked at how to use big data to tackle some of the toughest safety problems. Opportunities in this field have become even greater as the technology to collect and harvest massive datasets advances, said NAPA Shipping Solutions lead research and development engineer Teemu Manderbacka.
NAPA has been involved in the European Commission-funded FLARE project, which aims to improve passenger ship safety through data analysis and modelling.
The Finnish company took part in the Flooding Accident Response project, developing a risk-based methodology to enable live flooding risk assessment and control.
“What this means is that crew will be better aware of how their actions will affect the safety and vulnerability of a ship in any given situation,” Mr Manderbacka told Riviera Maritime Media.
Many incidents can be mitigated by keeping the watertight doors closed. “However, situations such as maintenance will require these doors to be open at times during a voyage,” he said. “Our research will help analyse traffic, weather and other conditions to establish risk guidelines to aid captains, crew and managers in assessing when it is safe to take such actions.”
NAPA is leading the research into mitigating flooding risk, using measurements and predictions of progressive flooding to enhance the provision of vulnerability monitoring and survivability assessments across the passenger ship sector.
“Among other things, this research draws on the simulation capabilities of the NAPA emergency computer, which assesses the vulnerability of an intact ship as well as its survivability in case of a flooding emergency,” said Mr Manderbacka.
NAPA’s further work on the project aims to improve monitoring, assessment and analysis of a live flooding situation, and in turn, accelerate ship-shore response with shared situational awareness.
In another development in 2020, NAPA validated the strength of this approach by applying its findings to grounding risk. This is a danger for all types of ships, as incidents this year have proven.
“Using big data analysis, we have created a model that will help crew and shoreside operators better assess and manage the risks of grounding,” said Mr Manderbacka.
“Collisions and grounding are the most common causes of accidents in the passenger ship sector.”
A review of accident records in the Baltic Sea* has shown that in terms of accident occurrence, collisions and groundings are the most common accidents.
Collisions account for almost 32% of accidents between 2014 – 2017. Over the same period, there have been 153 grounding or stranding events, accounting for 24.8% of the accidents.
“However, current accident databases fail to include crucial information about these accidents, near-miss situations, or navigational statistics overall,” said Mr Manderbacka. “If applied strategically, such information could help us better evaluate waterway complexity, the critical operational scenarios and could be the difference between a grounding incident and staying safe.”
Big data gives experts a chance to study these factors with a level of clarity like never before. “While there are many qualitative studies on the decisions that lead to grounding or collision, there have been relatively few statistical approaches,” said Mr Manderbacka.
“With our partners in FLARE, we created a big-data-analytics methodology and applied this to analyse the grounding avoidance behaviour of a selected passenger ferry.”
NAPA took detailed traffic data, obtained from the automatic identification system (AIS), and combined this with the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO) data for a three-year period of operations in the Gulf of Finland.
Through this developed methodology, NAPA identified crucial stages which may lead to groundings.
“This information enables us to understand what kind of flooding risk a potential grounding would cause and set the stage for important work moving forward,” said Mr Manderbacka. “Statistics and big-data analysis can help develop ship safety contours and provide inputs for ship motion simulations, and the development of probabilistic grounding risk models.
“This data on its own is one piece of the larger situational awareness puzzle,” he continued. “As we look towards increasing autonomy and remote operation, it will be essential to augment good seamanship with actionable data from sensors, made useful by this kind of analysis.”
Moving into 2021, Mr Manderbacka believes this approach will help mitigate the risk of grounding and equip operational centres with better tools that work in connection with systems on board the ships – providing the same situational awareness out at sea and on shore.
* Florent N, Alexey B, Markus H, and Deborah S. (2018). “Report on shipping accidents in the Baltic Sea from 2014 to 2017,” Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission – Helsinki Commission (HELCOM).
Riviera will provide information and opinion on passenger ship safety and data analytics during its series of webinar weeks and virtual conferences in 2021 - use this link for more details and to register for these events