Integrating hardware and sensors through software on modern ship bridges provides intelligence to navigators
Bridge teams have a plethora of technology at their disposal, with automatic identification system (AIS) information integrated with electronic navigational charts (ENCs) on ECDIS, target positioning and tracking from radar. Secondary information comes from echosounders and speedlogs, while autopilots can keep ships on an even course to follow a pre-planned route.
The latest integrated bridge systems come from deliveries to a new fleet of LNG carriers built to transport liquefied gas from an Arctic project on the Gydan Peninsula, Russia.
Wärtsilä Voyage is supplying bridge systems for five of these LNG carriers. Under the contract, two equivalent bridges will be installed in each vessel, one turned 180° from the conventional position. This unusual configuration will allow the LNG carriers to operate safely both forward and aft during ice-breaking conditions in the Arctic.
The navigation bridges will all be equipped with 12 multifunction workstations with a full set of basic applications, including ECDIS, radar, conning navigation information display system, BAMS alarm tracking system, and Navi-Planner for advanced route planning. Wärtsilä’s workstations are fully integrated into a unified system, which allows the main operational functions to be duplicated, thereby improving ice navigation safety.
These systems are integrated with Wärtsilä Fleet Operations Solution for streamlining navigational processes and voyage data, to improve information exchange between the crew and onshore operations centre.
For other ship bridge systems, Furuno Electric has developed a navigation support tool based on augmented reality (AR) to enhance safety and security of the voyage. Furuno Envision AR-100M provides visual support to manoeuvring and navigation as it delivers additional information, such as AIS, waypoints and no-go areas.
It provides bridge teams with vital navigation information, such as ship position, speed and heading with data received from GPS and other gyro compass receivers.
AR-100M gathers AIS data, target tracking radar data, and ECDIS chart and route information in one place. It visually superimposes this information on the live imagery captured by a camera pointing forward of the vessel. It displays the navigation route versus the azimuth heading of the ship, selected markers and AIS data of surrounding ships. Furuno said this is a technological step towards autonomous navigation and the first product of a new series of navigation aids.
In Q1 2020, Furuno introduced a magnetron-free radar and chart radar with solid-state technology for both X-band and S-band configuration in the FAR-NXT 2xx8 and FAR-3xxx series. Solid-state radar uses electronic components to generate microwave pulses and therefore requires much less power than magnetron radar. This technology does not wear out or require maintenance, significantly reducing operating costs.
Furuno is expanding its bridge system selection by acquiring Denmark-headquartered EMRI, which specialises in autopilots, steering control, joystick dynamic positioning (DP) and manoeuvring systems.
EMRI has supplied steering gear remote control systems, autopilots and DP controls to more than 1,000 ships and has developed fuel-saving algorithms. It has supplied autopilots and steering systems to Furuno for several years.
In another sector acquisition, ChartWorld purchased Vancouver, Canada-based Maritime Services to support ECDIS users, ENC suppliers and digital navigation in North America.
ChartWorld also formed a co-operation with Japan Radio Co (JRC) to provide additional information to navigators. This partnership involves ChartWorld’s Information Overlay (CIO+) service on JRC ECDIS which provides temporary and permanent notices to mariners as an overlay on ENCs for ECDIS 9201. This helps navigators execute efficient voyage plans by automating the process of applying additional data in ECDIS.
ChartWorld launched MyFleet in Q2 2020, a cloud-based tool that supports onshore teams to check and assess risk in a ship’s voyage plan. This comes as onshore managers are expected to have a greater oversight of ship navigation. MyFleet provides weather data, ChartWorld ENC data, ship AIS and proposed voyage plans.
ChartWorld subsidiary SevenCs has released Orca Pilot X software as an aid to harbour pilots. This can be downloaded from the Apple AppStore for pilot’s iOS tablets. It is an extension to the existing Orca Pilot G2 software used on other mobile devices. Orca Pilot X includes chart updates, bathymetric data, route planning, navigation data and a 3D Head-Up situational awareness mode.
In another partnership, Hensoldt, which owns bridge systems manufacturer Kelvin Hughes, has started collaborating with AMI Marine, with AMI supplying its latest voyage data recorder (VDR) technology for Hensoldt bridges on commercial ships. AMI’s X2 VDR is a retrofit solution that has storage capacity of up to 1 TB, which far surpasses the required 48 hours of storage required on VDRs under IMO rules. AMI has developed a paperless course recorder, X-VCR, which records and displays data from gyro heading, GPS, rate of turn and rudder angle. Data is stored on a solid-state external drive, providing up to 36 months of data which can be extracted for review and playback.
EIZO Corp has secured type-approval from Lloyd’s Register for its 19-in and 25.5-in monitors for ECDIS and radar. This is part of the European Union recognised organisation type-approval scheme. This certifies EIZO’s DuraVision monitors are calibrated for ECDIS. These are factory tested for assurance and come with optional optical bonding.
Northrop Grumman Sperry Marine and Raytheon Anschütz have both introduced new gyro compasses this year. Sperry Marine introduced its Navigat 2500 and 3500 fibre-optic, solid-state units for maintenance-free operation and improved heading measurement in all kinds of dynamic conditions. They are compatible with Sperry Marine’s CompassNet networked heading management system.
Raytheon Anschütz revealed its new Standard 22 NX gyro compass in March, offering additional interfaces and integrated sensors. It has more interfacing flexibility as it connects to additional heading receivers or has a direct connection to a bridge alert management system. Additional interfaces are available for extra heading and positioning sensors.
Echosounders augment radar for hazard detection
Ships are increasingly using sonar to augment radar and AIS to enhance hazard detection. These detect hazards and seabed depths below the water to reduce grounding risk. FarSounder has supplied expedition cruise ships with sonar, including its most powerful system, Argos 1000, for hazard detection. FarSounder chief executive Cheryl Zimmerman says sonar is particularly useful when cruise ships visit new destinations in remote and uncharted corners of the world. “Argos sonars detect obstacles in the water column and shallow bottoms out to 1,000 m in front of the ship in 3D and in real-time,” she says.
“This is why these navigational sonars are known as the technology behind extraordinary itineraries,” Ms Zimmerman comments. “The technology gives ships time to make corrections in their course to avoid dangers such as icebergs, shipping containers, large mammals, reefs and shoals.”
Sonar provides hazard detection for ships operating in remote areas where there could be uncharted and unforeseen dangers.
“Our Argos system offers an exceptional degree of safety as it warns the captain and crew before a dangerous situation occurs,” says Ms Zimmerman.
“It is useful in any environment, Polar seas or in the tropics, in fjords, rivers, inland waterways, and along shallow coastlines.”
FarSounder is working with bridge system suppliers and integrators to include the Argos navigation data into their platforms. Its software can already be integrated with Wärtsilä’s NACOS Platinum bridges.
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