NAVIGATION & COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY
With the maritime commu nity placing more empha sis on safety, electronic navigation and communication system and component designers and manufacturers are increasingly challenged to provide technological solutions. Read on for a sample of how some manufacturers are achieving success in tapping these lucrative markets.
INTEGRATED BRIDGES Success in the integrated bridge market has been enjoyed by both Sperry Marine and Racal-Decca Marine. The former recently installed systems on 11 vessels to bring the total number of Sperry systems in operation to 136 on vessels including the cruise ships Sensation, Nordic Empress, Costa Romantica and Regal Princess, owned by Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Costa Crociere and P&O Cruises, respectively; the U.S. Navy patrol boat, USS Tempest; the tankers Eagle and Polaris Star owned by Mobil Shipping and Vela International Marine Ltd. respectively; and the Viomare ferry Via lonio.
Sperry believes that the success of its systems are based on the realization that 90 percent of all maritime accidents can be avoided by improving navigational information and increasing the watch officer's conning time. To this end, the company has designed an integrated bridge system, which fuses all important data and control functions into centralized information displays for rapid analysis and action. The company claims that this results in a substantial improvement in risk management.
Meanwhile, Racal-Decca Marine was recently awarded a contract to supply MIRANS 4000A integrated bridge systems for installation on board five LNG carriers under construction for Petronas Tankers Sdn Bhd of Malaysia. The contract involves the supply and installation of bridge systems, each of which consist of two of the new BridgeMaster 340 ARPA radars interswitched to X-band and S- band antennas The MIRANS 4000A system also includes a MapMaster electronic mapping facility with accompanying chart table, a Live Situation Report console, which provides a detailed display of the ship's operational status, and an additional Mk 90 GPS stand-alone receiver. All elements of the system are fully integrated via NMEA interfaces. The first of the five 886-ft. (270- m) Petronas vessels was recently delivered from Chantiers de 1 'Atlantique at St. Nazaire, France and is employed carrying up to 130,000-cu.-m of natural gas on a regular route between Malaysia, Japan, Korea and Taiwan.
Racal says that operational safety wasamajor factor behind the choice of bridge equipment, which it claims offers a number of advantages for the operator. The video processing techniques used in the BridgeMaster 340 ARPA radars provide clear pictures and are particularly effective when operating in conditions of severe rain and sea clutter. Each radar is capable of tracking up to 30 targets acquired either manually or automatically and features a powerful geographies package, which offers extensive mapping capacity and flexibility, simplifying the navigator's task and enhancing the safety of navigation.
The MapMaster enables the user to prepare and display electronic maps with a high degree of graphic sophistication. These can be drawn to meet specific operational requirements and can be made to show as much or as little detail as required. Linked to the radar, MapMaster can show ARPA targets in real time superimposed on the mapping graphics display and provides a signifi- cant aid to navigation and operational safety.
Latest developments from Bremen-based Atlas Elektronik include the new Nacos 2 series of integrated navigation command systems, 15-2, 25-2, 35-2, 45-2 and 55-2. The series is based on the original Nacos navigation command systems developed as part of the German "Ship of the Future" project.
To date, some 220 configurations have been sold worldwide for the project, including research and conventional newbuilding applications.
Nacos 2 offers progressive degrees of sophistication, according to user requirements, and is claimed to incorporate the world's first combined radar and autopilot, the Atlas Radarpilot.
In addition to providing standard radar and ARPA functions, it enables a full range of navigation planning, steering and collision avoidance procedures to be carried out while also displaying own-ship position referenced to geographical grid patterns.
The series also features a number of monochrome and color radar options, each providing the basis for the Radarpilot and associated speed control functions with which engine performance and fuel consumption can be optimized and monitored. With the exception of the 15-2 model, all configurations embody a central 20-in., high-definition, full color Navigation Control Console (NCC) for concise display of essential navigational, speed, engine and system performance data.
The 35-2 and 55-2 models feature an ECDIS function designed to conform to IMO-IHO Harmonisation Group standards and which allows for superimposition of radar and ARPA pictures on sea charts in addition to own-ship position in real time.
For 45-2 and 55-2 models, an allpurpose multi-function display console, the Atlas Multipilot, is provided via which Radarpilot, NCC and ECDIS operations are available for high-resolution presentation on the equivalent of a single workstation. Radar and ECDIS functions can be carried out either individually or collectively.
Supporting options for all new Nacos models include a series of four navigational planning and consulting stations while all operational sub-systems are linked by a patented Controller Area Network (CAN) bus system to ensure safe and rapid real time processing of all sensor functions.
Following a recent batch of orders from yards in Finland, Germany, Italy, Japan and South Korea, worldwide sales of Nacos totals about 220 systems.
The latest commissions include a 45-2 unit for the world's largest cruise ship building at Fincantieri's Monfalcone yard for delivery to Carnival Cruise Lines in 1996. The $400- million, 95,000-gt vessel is designed to accommodate up to 4,400 passengers. Two 45-2 systems have also been ordered by P&O for two newbuildings in Germany and Italy, Oriana and Sun Princess.
The 67,000-gt Oriana is being built at Meyer Werft's Papenburg yard for delivery next April and, according to P&O, will be the fastest cruise ship built in the last 25 years. Both 45-2 systems will include Atlas Elektronik's Multipilot system for integration of radar, track control and ECDIS functions via a single multi-functional console.
A 45-2 system has recently beer retrofitted by HDW at Kiel to Siljs Line's Baltic ferry, the gas turbine driven Finnjet, as part of a $9.3 million modernization project. Latei this summer, the vessel is to carrj out official ECDIS trials on service routes between Travemunde anc Helsinki as part of the multi-na tional Baltic & North Sea ECDIS testbed project (BANET).
The project involves the hydro graphic services of Germany, Den mark, Estonia, the Netherlands Norway, Sweden and the U.K.. It is sponsored by the Germar Ministry of Research and Technol ogy and also involves participatioi by the German Office of Maritime Shipping and Hydrography (BSH) Atlas Elektronik, Hamburg Polytechnic's School of Maritim< Studies and SevenCs, also of Ham burg.
Since its introduction to the ma rine market in 1991, the NVI- Sailo: digitized chart system from Transas Marine, U.K. has been installed on more than 160 vessels worldwide. Major clients include the Baltic Shipping Co., Northern Shipping Co., Black Sea Shipping Co., Azov Shipping Co., Volga-Don Shipping Co. and the Murmansk Shipping Co.
The database developed by Transas is reckoned to be one of the largest in the world and covers most areas with detailed navigational charts.
Each chart contains additional information taken from the List of Lights and other sources to provide more detail than appears on the original paper chart.
A worldwide electronic mail service has been established for automatic chart updating support.
Automatic electronic chart update is possible through the Inmarsat system. Every NAVI-Sailor program includes its own built-in editor to assist the user in keeping charts updated manually from Notices to Mariners; or, a monthly, quarterly, semi-annual or annual updating service is available. The system is capable of reading the format of ARCS and, to comply with the forthcoming ECDIS, is capable of reading charts stored in the DX-90 official format. SATCOMS At present more than 16,000 vessels are equipped with Inmarsat-A terminals capable of providing voice, fax, data and telex communications. Additionally, there are over 6,000 vessels equipped with the Inmarsat- C system, which provides slow speed data and telex communications worldwide, as well as being the main means of broadcasting of the Maritime Safety Information (MSI) consisting of safety, navigational and weather information to the international maritime community.
Last year, Inmarsat introduced two new systems based on digital communications. Inmarsat-M uses low-cost, lightweight mobile earth stations to provide voice (telephone) services and medium speed 2.4 Kbit/ sec facsimile and data capabilities. The successor to Inmarsat-A is the Inmarsat-B system. In addition to the same capacity as the former, the latter's digital design extends to providing forward compatibility with the evolving Integrated Services Digital Networks (ISDNs).
Both Inmarsat-M and Inmarsat-B use modern digital technology to achieve more efficient use of satellite power and bandwidth resources, making it possible to significantly reduce the cost of communications to the user, said Captain Lars Brodje, maritime adviser, Inmarsat.
The introduction of Inmarsat-M and Inmarsat-B, with their digital functions, will not only offer shipowners and their customers reduced charges, said Capt.Brodje, but also an even better quality of service, especially with regards to facsimile and data communications (Inmarsat- B).
"Some service providers are already indicating charges in the region of three to six dollars per minute," he said.
A large number of shipowners have managed to reduce communication cost with their vessels substantially, and at the same time improve the quality and amount of information being transferred between the vessels and offices worldwide. "This is mainly achieved through data communications, using communication modems and compression techniques.
But simple measures such as selecting off-peak hours for the main bulk of necessary communications can save considerable amounts of money," explained Capt. Brodje. He believes that electronic mail (E-mail) is poised to have a pro- found effect on marine communications. E-mail is already commonplace in many shipping offices. It provides a means of transmitting messages quickly and easily between PCs, both within and between offices. Messages can be sent to several recipients at once, regardless of geographical location, and simultaneously saved for filing purposes. Shipowners are including their vessels into existing E-mail systems already used by their shoreside organizations, linking them with central and branch offices, and in some cases with the charterer's organizations. Vessels are being equipped with Inmarsat-A for this purpose, but recent developments in E-mail systems compatible with Inmarsat-C mean that E-mail services can be provided to a much wider range of customers, said Capt. Brodje.
The increasing use of data communications has created a growing demand for higher data rates capable of supporting a number of new applications.
To respond to these needs, said Capt. Brodje, Inmarsat now offers 56 Kbits/sec and 64 Kbits/sec High Speed Data (HSD) services suitable for applications such as high speed file transfer, store-and-forward video, high quality audio transmissions, multiplexed voice channels and video conferencing.
For two-way high speed data communications several Inmarsat service providers now offer Duplex High Speed Data (DHSD).
In both cases it is necessary to install additional hardware in the existing ship earth station (SES). For HSD this is a simple operation but slightly more complicated for DHSD. Manufacturers currently offering SESs for HSD/DHSD include ABB Nera, MTI and Magnavox.
Video is an excellent way of transferring both still and moving pictures.
But, to send and receive pictures with standard TV quality requires a data speed of several megabytes per second and is not economically feasible for ordinary shipping operations.
The answer, according to Capt. Brodje, is to use compressed video via an Inmarsat HSD channel. "This way it is possible to transmit a slow scan video picture from a vessel to an Inmarsat coast earth station," he said. "From here the signal may be carried by either a private leased line or via an ISDN connection. Standard telephone lines do not have enough capacity to handle HSD.
But, the ISDN network is rapidly being expanded in a large number of countries." Compressed video can not be compared in quality with standard TV quality or VHS recordings because the initial picture takes a few seconds to build and after the full picture has been built the system is only transmitting the actual changes in the picture. It is therefore desirable to avoid a motive with a large number of simultaneously moving objects as this will increase the quan- quantity of information that has to be transmitted.
In reality, this limitation has proved to be of less significance to a viewer who needs to assess the object and to give advice on how to proceed with necessary actions. Should there be a need for a high quality picture to assess a certain detail, such a picture can be arranged using a still video camera or a utility called a frame-grabber found in many multi-media computer applications.