Advances in weather information and routeing advice has led to improvements in voyage planning using back-of-the-bridge ECDIS
Weather routeing has become an important aspect of planning voyages using electronic stations at the back of ship bridges. Information arrives at regular intervals, multiple times a day, from various providers, each claiming that their data improves weather routeing and efficiency of voyages.
Information comes in emails or as online downloads into electronic planning tables so captains can navigate around poor weather to improve fuel efficiency and prevent damage to the ship and its cargo. More advanced products can automatically calculate optimised routes for ship masters.
In May, MeteoGroup introduced a new version of its weather routeing product, version 9 of its ship performance optimisation system (SPOS9). It said this version “enables captains to safely navigate with minimal fuel consumption and emissions” by calculating and recalculating optimum routes and anticipating oncoming weather and sea conditions.
MeteoGroup said SPOS9 has the shipping industry’s first variable speed algorithm to help navigators calculate routes that bypass severe weather and has functions covering ship trim optimisation during voyages.
SPOS9 has pre-installed ship models to provide these functions and more accurate ship routeing. The models were developed in collaboration with Dutch research group MARIN and include algorithms covering the resistance impact of wind and waves on specific vessel types.
MeteoGroup said SPOS9 takes into consideration various sea conditions, such as wind, waves, swell and currents. Weather forecasts are updated four times a day via email or online download. SPOS9 holds 20 elements for voyage optimisation and configurable back-to-shore reports.
Navigators can create and adjust routes based on time, cost or fuel constraints, with or without an estimated time of arrival. They can use MeteoGroup’s route network to plan port-to-port voyages that include navigational constraints and port approaches.
Weather Routing Inc (WRI) has added new features to its Dolphin online service this year. Director of operations Keith Wagner said the new version includes more map options and vessel positioning capabilities. Weather maps can be loaded faster and key ports, straits and headlands are labelled. More port labels appear as navigators zoom into higher-scale online maps, he said.
A vessel’s position is displayed even if the master is not receiving active weather monitoring, forecasting, routeing or performance analysis services from WRI. Maps can also display historical vessel track lines over a 24-hour period, which can be used for passage planning.
WRI can recommend routes and changes to voyages for weather or commercial reasons, with dead-reckoned positions plotted on Dolphin for each option, said Mr Wagner. Its Dolphin voyage planner enables masters and land-based managers to enter multiple routeing options, speeds or consumptions using an interactive platform and display. It then displays the safest, fastest and/or most efficient transits.
StormGeo has enhanced its weather routeing services with more route analysis. It offers a team of analysts to evaluate voyages and offer advice for future routeing. StormGeo vice president for shipping Svein Kåre Giskegjerde said the team accurately evaluates vessel performance along the route.
“These analysts have a deep understanding of both the scientific effect of weather conditions upon a vessel's speed of advance and the correlation of that and the commercial charter party terms,” he said. StormGeo provides routes for up to 60,000 ship voyages each year with the main routes being across the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans.