Cross-check passage plans against safety hazards, weather forecasts and emission control areas
For safe navigation, an effective voyage plan is needed using electronic aids, with surrounding vessels and hazards considered. As numerous accident reports demonstrate, this is not always the case with ships colliding and grounding as a result.
The UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has highlighted the importance of proper passage planning using ECDIS in reaction to a spate of vessel accidents it has reported on this year.
In its summary report published 1 April 2020, MAIB notes “Passage planning is not limited to the intended track on the chart or in the ECDIS.”. It said a comprehensive passage plan “should identify all the hazards ahead and determine the safest route. This includes identifying all navigation marks, lights and buoys, which are positively identified when observed and cross-checked with other navigational data to ensure accuracy of the passage”.
From a vessel optimisation perspective, passage planning should account for many other factors, such as weather and sea conditions, emission control area (ECA) information and port restrictions.
OneOcean chief operating officer Howard Stevens says navigators are grappling with an increasing drive for optimisation and fuel efficiency on top of navigation safety requirements.
“Digital solutions are leading the drive for efficiency when it comes to managing voyage optimisation and effective environmental compliance,” says Mr Stevens.
“Managing different fuel types to comply with ECAs, adhering to rapidly changing protection zones, and ever-increasing environmental controls mean the support and back up provided by digital solutions are more valuable than ever to mariners and shipping operators,” he tells Maritime Optimisation & Communications.
OneOcean offers PassageManager to provide accurate information about control areas, discharge restrictions and environmental zones so vessels remain fully compliant. PassageManager identifies if a voyage is set to pass through a restricted zone or protection area, flagging up relevant regulations along a proposed route.
OneOcean further aids optimisation by enabling onboard and onshore teams to compare different routes side by side, considering fuel optimisation and cost, to allow informed decision-making processes to be undertaken, says Mr Stevens.
Increasingly, weather routeing is being used for fuel optimisation. Voyages can be planned through PassageManager every six hours “to see how low-pressure systems are expected to behave along a route” with comparisons to different voyage plans.
“Vessels can be switched to a different route based on data coming through on new forecasts and assessments made about safety and efficiency,” Mr Stevens explains. Information is sourced from weather reports and NavArea warnings to calculate efficient voyage plans.
These also consider marine protection areas, regulations covering ballast water treatment management and exchange, rules on open-loop exhaust gas cleaning systems and temporary rules for protecting sea life.
Six vessels were fined by the Canadian Government in 2019 for non-compliance in a temporary mandatory slowdown area in the Gulf of St Lawrence, put in place to protect endangered North Atlantic right whales.
“Such temporary zones can be particularly difficult to be aware of and adhere to as additional limits can be put in place at extremely short notice,” says Mr Stevens. PassageManager would have flagged up warnings about these restrictions.
PassageManager uses charted depths and tidal predictions before automatically calculating squat and under keel clearance. Tidal heights from Admiralty TotalTide are brought into the plan automatically, along with charted depths and zones of confidence from ENC charts.
Our Vessel Optimisation Webinar Week (12-15 May) gives operators vital insights into the options available to extract maximum value from vessel operations. Each 45 minute webinar explores a different facet of vessel optimisation with the maritime professionals you want to hear from.