IMO is expected to approve new guidelines for the performance of navigation equipment, consisting of improved displays and functionality
New guidance from IMO is likely to have a significant impact on the performance of integrated bridge systems and navigation aids. This will be of particular value to OSVs that have ECDIS and radar on board for navigation and operations.
IMO’s Marine Safety Committee (MSC) will be promoting the introduction of greater standardisation of interfaces and the information used by mariners to monitor, manage and perform navigational tasks.
MSC will be working on draft guidelines approved by IMO’s sub-committee for Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR), which met for the sixth time in London, in January.
During that meeting, the sub-committee drafted performance expectations for navigation equipment to enhance situational awareness and improve safety. NCSR 6 produced guidelines that apply to Integrated Navigation Systems (INS), ECDIS, radar and other bridge equipment that has an interface.
It agreed draft amendments to the presentation of navigation-related information on shipborne navigational displays, including radar, ECDIS and INS. Revised performance standards are expected to come into force on 1 January 2024.
This sub-committee finalised draft updates to guidelines to cover the presentation of navigational-related symbols on bridge systems to achieve harmonisation across all equipment.
“There will be more information to process, from more sources, and with far greater detail on route planning, route checking, and vessel efficiency”
NCSR 6 also agreed a draft MSC resolution covering guidance on the definition and harmonisation of the format and structure of maritime e-navigation services. Although this may not affect vessels supporting offshore oilfield infrastructure and drilling rigs, it would have an impact on vessel mobilisation and for oceangoing towage. Currently there is no worldwide e-navigation service; however, there are initiatives to more widely develop regional services.
IMO’s e-navigation guidance should ensure that these services are implemented internationally in a standardised format, as opposed to the current situation of regional testbeds.
It was agreed that all maritime services should conform with the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) S-100 framework standard, which specifies the method for data modelling and developing product specifications.
IMO intends to partner with third parties to further develop and harmonise the structure of maritime services in the context of e-navigation. This is expected to include:
Not all of this will be relevant to OSV operations, but there will be several elements that are now, or will be in the future. For example, NCSR 6 also approved draft guidance for the design and performance of navigation and communication equipment that is intended for use on vessels operating in polar waters. This will be submitted to MSC 101 for approval in June. This guidance includes recommendations on temperature and mechanical shock testing, and on how to address ice accretion and battery performance in cold temperatures.
This is expected to be an important tool to support the implementation of the mandatory Polar Code, which should ensure that vessels operating in the harsh Arctic and Antarctic areas take into account extremes of temperature and that critical equipment remains operational under those conditions.
In January, NCSR 6 also agreed draft amendments to guidelines covering the annual testing of voyage data recorders (VDR) and simplified VDRs. This clarified the examination of float-free capsules, as approved in accordance with resolution MSC.333(90).
There will also be new performance standards and tests for float-free emergency position-indicating radio beacons (EPIRBS) that operate on 406 MHz frequency.
These standards will be mandatory for devices installed on, or after, three years from the date of their adoption, which is expected to be set by MSC 101.
These will require EPIRBs to be provided with an Automatic Identification System locating signal and should improve type-approval provisions.
At the end of NCSR 6, IMO secretary-general Kitack Lim was satisfied with the sub-committee’s progress and the approval of a number of drafts and amendments.
“The actions taken and decisions made by this sub-committee are key for the implementation of effective measures for safe navigation,” he said.
“This is for improved co-ordination to avoid maritime accidents and [to] ensure a quick and efficient response in case of a search and rescue incident.”
New IBS unveiled
In response to these upcoming changes in bridge equipment performance standards and technology requirements, equipment suppliers and integrators have introduced new products that exceed current compliance levels. For example, Kongsberg Maritime has integrated Sensor Fusion into its latest generation of integrated bridge systems (IBSs).
This incorporates an array of sensors along with conventional navigational aids, such as radar and sonar, in one system to provide better situational awareness to bridge teams. Kongsberg Maritime senior sales manager Roger Trinterud says this delivers a holistic real-time navigational picture, based on precise data from diverse sensors.
Displays on Kongsberg’s IBS present information that should enable effective vessel navigation, advanced manoeuvring, OSV automation controls, energy management and improved safety.
Kongsberg has also introduced an all-speed autopilot that combes traditional autopilot and trackpilot functions with joystick and dynamic positioning in one unit. Mr Trinterud explained that this is a single, common control that is active during high-speed transits down to zero-speed anchoring or station keeping.
“Our new IBS is designed to meet all IMO and classification society requirements and is all about the integration,” he explained. “It adds significant new technologies to deliver safer and more effective navigation and vessel operations, either as a standalone solution, or integrated with a full Kongsberg vessel delivery featuring automation, data handling and energy control systems.”
Next generation ECDIS
For improved vessel navigation, ChartWorld has introduced a new version of its eGlobe ECDIS. It states that eGlobe G2+ is the world’s first ECDIS with 4K resolution for displaying electronic navigational charts (ENCs) in ultra-high definition.
ChartWorld chief executive Steven Schootbrugge says the higher definition should improve visibility of ENCs on ECDIS and enhance the route planning capabilities of ECDIS. “ENCs and ECDIS are at the heart of modern navigation,” he says. “One of the great advantages [of this system] is our ability to navigate more accurately and update charts quickly, as more detailed information becomes available.”
He highlighted that ECDIS displays become less effective as more information becomes available, which is why higher definition displays are required. eGlobe G2+ has a 32-in touchscreen for clear chart presentation and navigation functionality. This means ECDIS is ready for future vessel navigational requirements, says Mr Schoorbrugge.
“There will be more information to process, from more sources, and with far greater detail on route planning, route checking, and vessel efficiency,” says Mr Schoorbrugge. This information will be displayed to bridge teams on banks of high definition touchscreen units.
As a result of these requirements, display manufacturers introducing ultra-high definition displays to their ranges. Hatteland Technology has released a 43-in version of its Series X MVD product family. This is a 4K panel computer and display with 3840 × 2160 pixels, compared to the 1920 x 1080 on full high definition displays.
Hatteland's 43-in Series X MVD features ultra-high definition displays that help vessels operate more safely and effectively
According to Hatteland Technology president and chief executive Trond Johannessen, ultra-high definition displays “gives technology developers a more dynamic platform to deliver new solutions that help vessels to operate safer and more effectively.”
These displays can be used in all light conditions and visual angles. They can display real-time information and multiple navigation tools, such as ECDIS, chart radar, automatic radar plotting aids, sonar and be used for propulsion and thruster control. They can also be used for applications such as dynamic positioning, crane and deck machinery controls.
Furuno has introduced new versions of its DRS X-class of radar antenna that it says has improved short-range detection of different types of object while keeping its long-range capabilities. These radar have a minimum detection distance of 20 m and can range out to 95 nautical miles (NM).
They have fast target tracking, which means they can display up to 30 targets simultaneously and show heading and speed information for each one. DRS X-class also have new gearbox pedestal units that are 20% lighter than previous radar series, and low-noise motors.
Furuno has also added more functionality to target tracking. For example, the DRS6A X-class can disseminate echoes of birds from other nautical targets up to 5 NM. It can distinctly separate birds from a nearby vessel in motion because vessels show a straight and clear echo trail, while bird echoes are identifiable by their random motion.
DRS6A X-class has a power rating of 6 kW from a power supply of 24 V of direct current and 4 A, and comes with an antenna of 1,016 mm, 1,255, or 1,795 (3.5, 4, 6-ft). Furuno has added two more class of radar that are more powerful and provide better target definition at longer ranges to this series. DRS12A X-class emits 12 kW of power and needs a power feed of 24 V and 4.5 A, while DRS24A X-class emits 24 kW from a feed of 24 V and 5.6 A. These come with 1,255 mm and 1,795 mm antennas.
Tidewater leads in bridge software and digitalisation
Tidewater is employing Poseidon Navigation Services’ software on its vessels to managing electronic navigational charts (ENCs) and navigation updates.
Tidewater will install Poseidon’s Challenger e-navigation software on the voyage planning stations at the back of bridges on up to 100 OSVs that are operating offshore Africa.
Navigators will receive the latest navigation information, weather and hazard warnings and updates to ENCs through this program. They will be able to plan routes using ENCs and the latest data from the UK Hydrographic Office’s Admiralty services.
Vessel masters will be able to better manage onboard holdings of ENCs, corrections and updates on the latest navigation hazards. Poseidon will provide training on the use of this software to Tidewater’s bridge teams.
Challenger software provides updates for Admiralty charts and publications, the vector chart service, information overlay, notices to mariners and e-NP digital products. It has an in-built route planner and list of NavArea warnings.
Software, alerts and ENC updates are synchronised between ship and shore via a web-based portal or through a weekly email service.
The project builds on work conducted in 2018, when Tidewater signed a contract with UniSea for digitalising business processes related to HSEQ and operations.
Under the terms of that contract, Tidewater will implement UniSea modules for procedures and manuals, incident reporting, environmental and fuel consumption reporting, risk assessments, international ship and port facility security codes, permit to work and audits, among others.