Specialist radar processing can identify potentially hazardous waves, enabling navigators to steer container ships clear of danger
Japan Radio Co (JRC) has developed radar functionality to detect and analyse waves, which navigators can use to minimise destabilising ship motions.
JRC says its navigational radar JMR-7200/9200 can be upgraded with software for wave analysis. This comes as more container ships lost their cargo in adverse weather and sea conditions in the last few months.
Ships operated by Ocean Network Express (ONE), Maersk Line, Evergreen Marine, APL and MSC have lost or damaged containers as they sailed in heavy weather during ocean voyages. One of the most recent was in January 2021, when Maersk Essen spilled up to 750 boxes into the Pacific Ocean while sailing from Xiamen, China to Los Angeles, US. ONE had two ships – ONE Apus and ONE Aquila – lose hundreds of containers due to gale-force winds and large swells in the northern Pacific in Q4 2020.
Losing containers at sea has a major impact on the ocean environment and is a huge expense for shipping companies.
These incidents could have been prevented by using weather routeing and wave analysis radar. Heavy rolling and pitching can cause containers to lose their stability and fall overboard.
JRC says its radar Wave Analysis function can help operators deviate away from potentially damaging waves. Radar can measure wave height, direction and length to support masters’ decisions so navigators steer ships on the safest course and speed to reduce rolling and pitching.
JRC radar’s signal processor Blizzard accurately measures waves and detects ship movements simultaneously through scan correlation and pulse-length adjustment.
Blizzard can analyse waves ahead in the range of 1.5-2 nautical miles in a 4 km2 zone, while JRC’s navigation radar continues to detect ships up to 12 nautical miles away to prevent collisions.
The wave analysis function is integrated in the JRC JMR-7200 and 9200 IMO radar as a software licence function, with no additional hardware.
To display both wave and navigation information, a window can be included on the IMO radar screen to indicate wave height, length, period and direction in values, or displayed in a spectrum chart for easy and fast interpretation.
Alternatively, wave analysis functions can work in combination with a JRC dynamic sensor, JLR-21, to measure the motion of the ship around three axes. Data can be viewed with the wave information on a conning display, helping crew make course and speed decisions in difficult sailing circumstances.
Wave data can be recorded and shared with shore-based managers, ship design institutes and weather data companies for research and to improve calculation models.
“By analysing and measuring the waves, and presenting clear decision-making information to the crew, we can prevent containers from falling over or rolling dangerously,” JRC says.
This development comes after JRC and Alphatron Marine introduced a new river radar with excellent wave suppression technology in August 2020. JMR-611 is the first river radar to meet the stricter requirements for maximum reflection from radar monitors. It has an aerodynamic scanner and a modified motor for extreme weather conditions.
JRC says it is the first river radar to have calculation technology to minimise signals from waves on open water, which disrupts hazard and ship detection.
With this sea-state function, buoys and other small hazard echoes will remain clearly visible. JMR-611 also has Echo Border and expansion functions for clearer outline and sharper display of the radar echoes, displayed on a 19-in LED monitor.
JRC re-processed and improved other functionalities from the previous JMA-610 model in this new radar, such as the prediction lines, docking information and image recording.
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