Innovative Marine Communications for Offshore Safety

By Joseph Keefe
Monday, October 21, 2013

Utility, functionality, and safety all come together in David Clark’s wireless headset communication systems. For the soon-to-come North American Offshore Wind boom, there are lessons to be learned here, from across the great pond.

When Mantsbrite became the sole U.K. distributor of the David Clark Marine Wireless Headset Communications Systems in 2012, one of the first users was Tidal Transit, a fast growing North Norfolk company providing a new generation of personnel transfer vessels for use by offshore wind farm developers. That’s because Tidal Transit selected Mantsbrite their first two state-of-the-art, purpose designed and built vessels with the best navigational aids available to enable the vessels to function safely and efficiently in the unfriendly waters of the North Sea.
Mantsbrite’s Managing Director David Ash told MarineNews that one of the key factors in operating safely at sea is clear and interference-free communication. The David Clark system, ruggedly manufactured from marine grade components, enables users to enjoy clear, crisp reception within a range of 100 meters. Beyond this, he added, “Being hands-free, they greatly enhance mobility as there is no need for crew members to be tethered to the vessel.”
Tidal Transit’s Director Leo Hambro echoed those sentiments, saying “These Communications Systems have been invaluable.  When we carried out a man overboard rescue exercise recently, the crew member on deck was able to move freely, giving very clear instructions to the crew on the bridge, thus avoiding accidental harm to the ‘man’ in the water. Fortunately, we haven’t experienced such an incident, but with the David Clark wireless system, we are confident that our crew-to-crew communications can make a huge difference in both normal and extraordinary circumstances.”
With Tidal Transit’s first two vessels, the ‘Ginny Louise’ and ‘Eden Rose’, having been in continuous use in offshore wind farms service since delivery, Hambro and his crews have had ample time to evaluate the utility of the new communications systems. As a result, a third vessel – due to arrive in May 2013 – will also be outfitted with the equipment by Mantsbrite. While the offshore wind boom hasn’t quite arrived in U.S. waters just yet, lessons already learned across the pond are worth noting, before it does.

Set Up & Installation
Perhaps one the most attractive aspects of the David Clark wireless system is its ease of installation and, subsequent to that, ease of use. The basic layout of the system typically entails a Skipper at the helm, equipped with a desk mounted microphone and speaker. As many as three mobile crew can be equipped with wireless headsets. According to the Master of the Eden Rose, no issues were encountered with the setup of the headsets. He added, “This also goes for learning how to use them. We simply donned the headsets, switched them on and they were ready to go.”

General Use & Utility
The need for a wireless solution as opposed to a ‘wired’ headset system was paramount for this operator of wind farm vessels. That’s because the wireless version provided flexibility, mobility and freedom from entanglement with other equipment. The Eden Rose Master insists, “Wires would be a disaster in this environment. The less wires; the better, especially since deck tasks involve every area of the vessel.”
Wind Farm crews are typically outfitted with a number of PPE items, that at times, can be cumbersome. According to Tidal Transit’s Hambro, maintaining mobility and freedom was a key metric for those involved with choosing the David Clark system. Deck crews need the flexibility that the wireless system offers to enable them to freely walk around the vessel, and the nature of their work means that they need both hands free when transferring passengers or cargo, especially in adverse weather. For his part, the Master needs a wireless system in order to use both hands to maneuver the vessel into position on the ladders and then keep it there safely whilst passengers transfer.
Hambro says that the wireless system has to be easy to use, waterproof, durable and the reception has to be loud and clear, it should enable the crew to go about their duties on deck in severe weather or calm seas on a hot day with the minimum of disruption to their work and they should be able to talk and listen to each other as if they stood next to one and other. The battery life should ideally last a full twelve hours of continuous use. For Tidal Transit, the David Clark wireless solution fit the bill nicely.

Safety at Sea: Real Life Utility
For Tidal Transit, safety of personnel is paramount. The need to issue clear instructions via the headsets is therefore very important when, for example, pointing out hazards to personnel on deck or passing gentle reminders regarding general operating procedures. At the same time, the system has to be reliable and durable enough to last throughout the working day.
In day-to-day situations, the wireless headsets are used to safely expedite transfer of passengers and equipment up and down offshore wind installations. In the engineroom, the headsets provide both a relief from high levels of ambient noise, as well as providing a reliable means of communication topside. The units also come in extremely handy, according to Tidal Transit crews, during man overboard drills when crew can be in instantaneous and direct communication with the skipper, giving him/her directions as to the location of MOB and the state of the casualty once on board. The crisp quality of the transmissions eliminates gray areas or uncertainty in communications.
Recently, while working in fog coming into Great Yarmouth, the headsets came into their own as they allowed deck crew to stand on the bow relaying information to the Master while keeping their arms free to perform other tasks as required. In another instance, an issue with one of the rudders while trying to keep station brought the full value of the wireless system into full perspective. Because of the vessel’s position and the prevailing tidal current, it wasn’t safe for the Master to leave the bridge as the vessel needed to be maneuvered around the turbines. A wireless equipped crewmember was dispatched to investigate and identify the problem. After the deck crew and Master agreed on a solution, the Master was able to tell the crewman if he needed to maneuver the vessel and how, thus affording the crewman the opportunity to take up a safe position away from the moving rudder/machinery. While this occurring, the crewman could relay back to the skipper any issues that he could see that could cause further complications.

Workboats & Wind
The call for reliable and safe communications at sea, especially on small workboat platforms, is a lot more than just hot air. As the North American wind farm market slowly ramps up and promises to provide new opportunities, new fit-for-purpose craft will be built for this sector. As tidal Transit has already found out, wireless communications systems should be standard issue when they do. That’s because this is one place where utility, functionality and safety will all come together to pay handsome backend dividends in a workboat environment that, as yet, does not yet exist in domestic waters. When it does come, U.S.-based David Clark Company will be more than ready to serve a Jones Act restricted market with American built goods. 



(As published in the October 2013 edition of Marine News - www.marinelink.com)

 

Maritime Reporter March 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Offshore

Fincantieri Offshore Chooses AVEVA Software

One of the world’s largest shipbuilders uses AVEVA software to design next-generation drillship. Fincantieri Offshore has signed a contract with AVEVA to implement

Norway's Oil Sector May Face More Project Cuts, Delays

More oil and gas projects in Norway could be put on hold because of rising costs, adding to a growing list of developments that have been delayed or called off,

Diamond Offshore profit falls as rig demand softens

Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc, one of the world's top five offshore rig contractors, reported a 17 percent drop in quarterly profit as demand fell for rigs used in deep water drilling.

Workboats

Scafi Expands Fleet with Italian Damen Tug

Damen is to construct a new ASD 3212 tug for Scafi, the Italian shipping group that includes a number of international towing companies. The contract cements their

Viking Welding Delivers Fire/Rescue Boats

Fire Departments in South Carolina and Minnesota have recently accepted delivery of Response FR-28 and FR-31J boats built of welded aluminum by Viking Welding & Fabrication in Kensington, N.

Offshore: Seacor Raises the Bar Again

Long acknowledged as a firm to watch in U.S. crewboat and fast supply boat innovation, Seacor Marine will be attracting industry attention once again when its latest

Energy

Petroecuador Tenders to Buy High Octane Naphtha

State-run Petroecuador has launched two tenders to buy a total of 22 cargoes, 240,000 barrels each, of high octane naphtha RON 87 and 93 for delivery starting on May 21-23,

Norway's Oil Sector May Face More Project Cuts, Delays

More oil and gas projects in Norway could be put on hold because of rising costs, adding to a growing list of developments that have been delayed or called off,

Transneft Worried Ukraine Will Take its Hungary Pipeline

Russia's oil pipeline monopoly Transneft said it was worried Ukraine may take control of its oil product pipeline to Hungary.   A row over ownership of the

Maritime Safety

IMB: Piracy Falls to Lowest Level since 2007

The International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has revealed that piracy on the world’s seas is at its lowest first-quarter level since 2007,

Lawyer: Korea Ferry Owners Accept Responsibilities

The family that has a major stake in companies that control the shipping operator whose ferry sank last week, likely to have killed hundreds, will take social and

Korean Ferry: Pair Drowned with PFD's Tied Together

A boy and girl trapped in a sinking South Korean ferry with hundreds of other high school students tied their life jacket cords together, a diver who recovered their bodies said,

Communication

Imtech Extends VSAT Coverage Above Europe

Imtech Marine expanded its Global Ku-band VSAT network with additional coverage above Europe. Next to the Telstar 12 satellite and the Intelsat 21, the Eutelsat

Body Of Korean Boy Who Raised Alarm On Sinking Ferry Found

The body of a South Korean boy whose shaking voice first raised the alarm that a passenger ferry with hundreds on board was in trouble has been found, his parents believe,

Boy Passenger Made Initial Distress Call from Sinking Ferry

The first distress call from a sinking South Korean ferry was made by a boy with a shaking voice, three minutes after the vessel made its fateful last turn. He

Wind Power

Mammoet Uses World’s Biggest Crawler Crane to Install Legs on Ship

Mammoet, a global company in engineered heavy lifting and transport, said it is currently employing its LR13000, the biggest crawler crane in the world, to install

UK Subsidises 8 Renewable Energy Contracts

The British government on Wednesday awarded investment contracts under a new subsidy regime to eight renewable energy projects, including five offshore wind farms and three biomass plants.

POSH raises $311m in Singapore IPO

POSH prices IPO at S$1.15 per share, near bottom of indicative range. POSH focuses on service to production, maintenance and is keen on growing offshore accommodation business.

Offshore Energy

Norway's Oil Sector May Face More Project Cuts, Delays

More oil and gas projects in Norway could be put on hold because of rising costs, adding to a growing list of developments that have been delayed or called off,

Diamond Offshore profit falls as rig demand softens

Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc, one of the world's top five offshore rig contractors, reported a 17 percent drop in quarterly profit as demand fell for rigs used in deep water drilling.

Atkins Gain Maersk Oil Engineering Contract

Design, engineering and project management consultancy Atkins, says it has been awarded an engineering support contract covering three of Maersk Oil’s UK assets in the North Sea.

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Maritime Standards Offshore Oil Pod Propulsion Salvage Ship Electronics Ship Repair Ship Simulators
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.3268 sec (3 req/sec)