The world’s first adaptive ferry transit has been conducted during normal service
This landmark event, which took place in February on a vessel fully loaded with passengers and vehicles and demonstrated fully automatic control from dock to dock, is a key step forward in integrating autonomous technology into everyday shipping operations. It was made possible by close collaboration between shipping company Bastø Fosen, Kongsberg and the Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA).
Bastø Fosen VI will now use adaptive transit functions developed from Kongsberg Maritime’s advanced systems to enhance the daily operation of its Horten-Moss service, while continuing to carry a full complement of crew. The technology introduces new potential for the sustainability of diverse marine operations by providing a platform for optimised fuel consumption and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. While supporting key elements of the UN sustainability targets for climate change, ferry owners and operators adopting the technology can experience tangible operational cost savings.
The fully integrated digital system on Bastø Fosen VI automatically performs all docking and crossing functions to a “high and repeatable level of accuracy, ensuring best practice is followed to the smallest detail on every transit”, says a Kongsberg statement. The result is more exact timekeeping and improved customer satisfaction: during trials in December, Bastø Fosen VI consistently arrived within two seconds of the scheduled time.
Bastø Fosen chief executive Øyvind Lund commented “Today, at the press of a button, one of our vessels left the quay in Horten, crossed the Oslo fjord and docked in Moss, all completely automatically. This leaves the crew more time to focus on monitoring the vessel and ensuring passenger safety, which for us are the main motivations for adopting this technology.
“Co-operation with Kongsberg and the NMA has been crucial to the success of this venture, as has consultation with our captains and crew,” he continued.
“We have included them in this project from the start and have been delighted with how engaged they have been in its delivery. This is an aid, not a replacement. Greater accuracy permits better logistics: for example, we can now pre-programme the time allowed for the crossing and thus reduce energy consumption. Digitalisation and automation are the future and we are proud to be prime movers.”
Bastø Fosen VI now enters a six-month trial period during which the automatic system – called ‘adaptive transit’ – is expected to control the vessel for most services, but the captain will remain in charge and the bridge will be fully staffed. At present, the installed equipment is not fully autonomous – if vessels or objects are detected on a collision course an alarm will sound and the captain will take control.
An anti-collision system, comprising radar and electro-optical sensors, is expected to be fitted to Bastø Fosen VI mid-year and be under test by Q3, but crew will remain on the bridge even as the level of autonomy increases. To maintain manoeuvring skills, Bastø Fosen’s procedures require staff to perform manual transits on a regular basis.
Speaking from on board Bastø Fosen VI, Kongsberg Maritime executive vice president integrated solutions Gunnar Pedersen said: “Leaving the quay, crossing and docking again, all at the press of a button – this is a world first. It is super-smooth too, as we saw today. But without collaboration between a forward-leaning ferry operator like Bastø Fosen, the support of the Norwegian Maritime Authority and a technology provider like Kongsberg, none of this would have been possible. This is a big day for everyone involved – this is the future.”
How e-navigation can boost passenger ship regulation compliance
Advances in e-navigation can help passenger ship operators manage new and increasingly complex international, regional and local port regulations.
Passenger ship crew need to handle a raft of new regulations, with new rules entering into force in quick succession at times. The IMO 2020 sulphur cap came into force on 1 January 2020 and a series of new decarbonisation measures are expected soon.
Other more regional regulations, such as the discussions over a new Mediterranean emissions control area (ECA), have started the process for an all Mediterranean agreement to match those in the Baltic and the US, and it is these regional rules that make the regulatory map complex for vessel operators.
In addition to the international and regional rules there are an increasing number of port rules that can vary widely and it is important for masters to be aware of local regulations.
Failure to meet these complex regulations can be costly with severe fines, particularly in the EU and US waters, so the need for clarity is real. NAVTOR’s memorandum of understanding it signed with Total Marine Solutions (TMS) offers owners and operators the kind of clarity needed to avoid falling foul of regulatory authorities.
As the regulations change, masters need to know which rules apply in each region and what mitigating actions need to be implemented to make certain the vessel they are operating remains compliant in all jurisdictions.
Many of the new regulations will be simple to meet in as much as they are applied globally for all operators in all jurisdictions. Others such as ECAs are regional and are applied locally with new ECAs expected to be enforced in the future. Others are more complex with the US, for example, applying a more stringent threshold for regulating the cleaning of ballast water than the IMO, but with compliance with US regulations still to be firmly decided, the rules could change.
“Serious shipowners want to comply with the regulations, but with the increasing complexity of the regulatory landscape it is becoming harder to comply without assistance and planning”
TMS launched its Ocean Guardian software in 2017 which is designed to offer advice to crew and simplify the regulatory requirements as a ship heads into new regional jurisdictions, pertaining to port restrictions as well as mandatory rules on emissions and ballast water, so the crew are prepared for what lies ahead.
TMS president Alexandra Anagnostis-Irons says “This kind of collaboration – with expert partners leveraging each other’s skills and technology – is the way forward for an increasingly demanding maritime industry.”
In offering an e-navigation system with regulatory updates, NAVTOR managing director Tor Svanes believes the most pressing issue for the service provider is to make certain all the information is correct and up to date.
NAVTOR environmental officer Gaute Fossmark believes this is a crucial issue for the combined systems. “Using data supplied by TMS, updating changes to regulations is fully automatic, so the customer does not need to worry about updates to the software,” he says.
TMS’s technical department makes certain all data is harvested and updates its systems on a bi-weekly basis, while NAVTOR updates its electronic navigation chart every week.
Given the increasing frequency of localised rules, crew are offered a layered system for route planning with NAVTOR’s NavStation. NavStation offers a complete route planning service including weather routeing, passage planning and an e-publication reader. The user can operate all 12 layers of the system or switch individual layers off if required.
However, by using the TMS system with the NAVTOR voyage planning system, “Masters can show port inspectors that the crew have taken environmental issues into account during voyage planning,” explains Mr Fossmark.
“Serious shipowners want to comply with the regulations, but with the increasing complexity of the regulatory landscape it is becoming harder to comply without assistance and planning. NAVTOR/TMS gives crew the tools to plan ahead and to avoid costly penalties,” explains Mr Fossmark.