Kirby installs new radar systems on inland waterway tugboats and manufacturers introduce new bridge electronics for workboats
When Kirby Corp ordered new towboats for its US inland marine operations, it selected Furuno Electric to supply wheelhouse electronics for navigation and communications. Kirby will take delivery of three tugs this year, the first of these, Bailey, is scheduled to enter service in Q2 2019.
These 26.8-m tugs will be equipped by Texas-headquartered Inland Gulf Marine with Furuno radar depth sensors, GPS and automatic identification system (AIS) devices. They are under construction at the Main Iron Works facility in Houma, Louisiana.
Each tug will have two 12-kW Furuno Far 2117BB radar with target detection and advanced signal processing techniques fitted. Furuno also supplied FA170 AIS and GP33 GPS devices to transfer position and AIS information to the tug’s navigation systems, 235DT depth sensors and RD33 navigation data organisers for information display on tug bridges.
As part of these tugs’ safety measures, Furuno is delivering BR500 bridge navigational watch alarm systems (BNWAS) to detect if a watchkeeper becomes incapacitated, particularly during night operations. BNWAS also monitor the pilot’s presence in the wheelhouse and notifies the crew if the watchkeeper or pilot is unable to interact with the alarm in a preset timeframe.
In 2018, Furuno introduced new versions of its DRS X-class of radar antenna it says has improved short-range detection of objects while keeping its long-range capabilities. These radar have a minimum detection distance of 20 m and can range out to 95 nautical miles.
They have fast target tracking, which means they can display up to 30 targets simultaneously and show heading and speed information for each. DRS X-class also have new gearbox pedestal units which are 20% lighter than previous radar series, and low-noise motors.
Furuno added more functionality to target tracking. For example, the DRS6A X-class can disseminate bird echoes from other nautical targets up to 5 nautical miles. This is 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 antennas of 1,016 mm, 1,255 mm, or 1,795 mm. Furuno has added two more classes 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.
JRC and Alphatron Marine have introduced a Mark 2 version of the JMA-5200/5300 radar series for its ProLine range of integrated bridge systems for workboats and vessels. The company discontinued the first version of this product range two years ago, but has reintroduced it following requests from vessel operators.
JMA 5200/5300 Mk2 was adapted to the latest IMO rules for performance and human-machine interfaces. It has an updated graphical user interface and a high-resolution Eizo DuraVision monitor. The 5300 radar series is IMO type-approved for vessels up to 10,000 gt, while the 5200 radar series is available for non-SOLAS vessels ranging from a dome radar up to an S-band version.
These radar series have a longer life than previous versions because of brushless antenna motors. JRC included advanced features that enable running both radars’ images quickly and more efficiently than before.
Radar images are fully processed within a few milliseconds before display, which JRC says generates a smooth image rotation when sailing in head-up mode. When changing to a North-up mode, the new radar image is displayed without any delay caused by the scanner rotation.
JMA 5200/5300 Mk2 display AIS data and can act as automatic radar plotting aids. Their images can also include wind and echosounder information on a dedicated segment on the screen.
Integrated bridge upgrade
Sperry Marine released a major upgrade to its VisionMaster FT bridge software in Q1 2019 to improve ECDIS and radar alarm management. VMFT11 enhances bridge cyber security and simplifies user interface data exchange. Sperry Marine technical manager Simon Cooke says this upgrade decreases the mariner’s workload in alert management. “Managing alerts on radar and ECDIS has been a problem for years, because too many alarms were categorised as high priority,” he says. “Owners found their officers spent too much time managing alerts when they should have been focusing on navigation.”
“Managing alerts on radar and ECDIS has been a problem for years, because too many alarms were categorised as high priority”
VMFT11 aligns wheelhouse alert management with the ability to temporarily silence alerts and refine prioritisation. Alerts are presented visually using standardised icons designed using colour and shape to differentiate the messages.
VMFT11 integrates Sperry Marine’s latest type-approved cyber security tool, Secure Maritime Gateway. This uses multiple firewalls and a demilitarised zone to control traffic flows in the wheelhouse.
As more tugs have ECDIS installed for oceangoing operations, new models are introduced to improve navigation. For this reason, ChartWorld introduced its next generation of the eGlobe ECDIS. It claims 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 route planning capabilities. “ENCs and ECDIS are at the heart of modern navigation,” he says. “One of the great advantages is our ability to navigate more accurately and update charts quickly as more detailed information becomes available.”
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 chart presentation and navigation functionality. This means ECDIS is ready for future vessel navigational requirements, says Mr Schootbrugge.
Hatteland Technology Series X MVD has 4K panel computer and display with 3840 × 2160 pixels
Changing wheelhouse requirements led display manufacturers to introduce new 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 1920 × 1080 on full high definition displays.
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 and sonar for propulsion and thruster control. It can also be used for operational specific applications, such as dynamic positioning, crane and deck machinery controls.
Navico has introduced new information displays for its Simrad, Lowrance and B&G ranges of wheelhouse electronics. These have pre-defined and custom modes for transit and passage planning. Multiple displays on the bridge can be integrated together in a centralised hub using wifi, Bluetooth and Ethernet connectivity with CAN and NMEA 2000 ports on all onboard systems. Simrad information displays were introduced in Q4 2018, while Lowrance and B&G displays will debut this year.
Furuno DRS X-class radar
Type (power): DRS6A X-class, 6 kW, 4 A
Type (power): DRS12A X-class, 12 kW, 4.5 A
Type (power): DRS24A X-class, 24 kW, 5.6 A
Voltage feed: all 24 V direct current
Antennas: all 1,255, 1,795 mm (plus 1,016 mm on DRS6A)
Range: 20 m to 95 nautical miles
Temperature -25˚C to 55˚C
Weight range 20-24 kg
Tracking: display up to 30 targets simultaneously