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Why ship WiFi factors in Faraday Onboard video meets high demand
Checklist for safer ECDIS operation
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Cruise ships Epic ensures the video 8 keeps playing It is essential that onboard entertainment systems can cope with demand spikes when passengers return to their cabins en masse in bad weather 10 A high-fibre diet is good for passengers Cruise operators should consider replacing copper wiring with high-capacity fibre optics
Factor in Faraday for faster WiFi A passenger ship始s steel superstructure need not be a hindrance in deploying WiFi networks onboard
Control systems 16 Cyber-attacks halted the hard way Alewijnse has developed hardware protection for owners wanting to connect vessel control systems to the web
Broadband 18 Taking VSAT to the max A zero-tolerance approach to downtime is needed to ensure VSAT systems perform at their best
Maritime broadband without satellites Satellite might have become the de facto option, but there are other ways of getting data to ship
Electronic charts 26 ECDIS capabilities and limitations With the comfort blanket of paper charts soon to be taken away, Malcolm Instone offers some practical advice to electronic navigators 32 Setting a course for ECDIS migration Kelvin Hughes has come up with a turn-key package to take the stress out of going electronic
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Management software 33 Role-based apps accelerate refit Preparing for a refit project is a time-consuming, but rolebased software can help streamline the process 34 SIS-tematic upgrade for Van Oord After ten years the fleet management system used by Dutch dredging group Van Oord needed a radical overhaul
漏 Institute of Marine Engineering, Science & Technology (2011). All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any material form (including photocopying, storing in any medium by electronic means or transmitting) without the written permission o f the copyright owner except in accordance with the provisions of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 or under terms of a licence issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency Ltd, 6-10 Kirby Street, London, England, EC1N 8TS, website: www.cla.co.uk email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications for the copyright owner's written permission to reproduce any part of this publication should be addressed to the publisher. Information published in MARITIME IT & ELECTRONICS does not necessarily represent the views of the publisher. Whilst effort is made to ensure that the information is accurate the publisher makes no representation or warranty, express or implied, as to the accuracy, completeness or correctness of such information. It accepts no responsibility whatsoever for any loss damage or other liability arising from any use of this publication or the information which it contains.
Is mission creep unavoidable? Nearly 100 governments have signed up and implemented LRIT – the long range identification and tracking system – that came as a response to heightened security fears in the wake of 9/11, according to the latest report from International Mobile Satellite Organisation (IMSO), the inter-governmental agency tasked with overseeing its roll-out. On the one hand, this is great achievement. After a somewhat shaky start marred by a variety of technical problems and delays, Flag States have got their act together and the national data centres are collecting, processing and storing vessel location reports in the way they were intended. It is amazing to think that before LRIT came into existence, there was really very little way of ascertaining what ships were where. Indeed, in an age of global electronic communication and GPS, people outside the industry were frequently astounded to learn that these multi-million dollar assets which (as numerous pro-shipping organisations are keen to highlight) serve a crucial role in sustaining our global economy were, once they had left port and crossed over the horizon, out of sight and out of mind. Safe arrival No wonder then that shipping is so often described as an invisible industry: even the people charged with running it, overseeing it and regulating it did not know what was happening until several weeks later when the vessel hopefully arrived safe and sound at its destination. Of course operators had a decent idea where their vessels should be and this could be con2
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firmed by noon reports and other intermediate communications. But because these reports were manually generated they could, in theory, be manipulated or tampered with. In the normal course of affairs this would not happen. The trust worked. Paranoia strikes However 9/11 changed all that. In a single sweep we became paranoid. From the US government’s point-of-view no-one could be trusted – not least vessels entering the country that had traversed waters close to enemy states (real or perceived) and which could be armed with an explosive device, or be carrying weapons to be forwarded onwards and inwards to terrorist cells based in the homeland. Yet when LRIT was first proposed it encountered considerable resistance from the shipping industry. Besides the usual vexations relating to costs imposed from above, concerns were aired about the potential disclosure of commercially sensitivity information (ie, position data). Moreover, some feared eventual missioncreep, where information ostensibly collected for one purpose ends up being siphoned off for another. It seems these last fears are resurfacing. Today government agencies find themselves sitting on more and more vessel traffic data. And there is an emergent enthusiasm to utilise this data for the ‘greater common good’. The most obvious application would be for informing environmental policies. Knowledge of traffic densities in particular seaways could enlighten regulators on the best way forward to mitigate ship-generated pollution. On the proviso identifying particulars have been removed
Kevin Tester Editor from the dataset beforehand, this needn’t cause too much consternation. On the contrary, it should result in policy instruments that are more effective in tackling the issues they set out to address. However, if we look beyond the maritime industry, once data has been used for policy development, the temptation is to extend that usage for policing those policies. And technically speaking, this is not terribly difficult to accomplish. The risk, however, is that it will further alienate those it supposedly set out to help or protect, in our case, the shipowners and operators. Cyber-terrorism wake-up call As we find out from Alewijnse in this issue, the threat from cyberterrorism is no longer an imaginary one. A virus known as Stuxnet is likely to go down in history as the first piece of code to mount a significant attack on an industrial installation – a nuclear facility in Iran. Understood to utilise insider knowledge of how PLCs function, it was evidently a targeted strike. Fortunately the payload was designed to shut-down the plant – not blow it up. However, it proves where there is a will there is a way. So as ship control and navigation systems become more connected, we must not forget these dangers or pretend they don’t exist. Who knows whether a computer-literate group of particularly militant eco-terrorists is planning to take control of an oil tanker and deliberately crash it simply to make a point?
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Vizada ventures into VSAT Maritime satcoms heavyweight Vizada has bitten the bullet and launched its own VSAT service, called Pharostar. The company states Pharostar will help meet increasing market demand for high-performance broadband connectivity at sea. Based on iDirect technology, the service provides standard IP data speeds of more than 1 Mbps for multiple applications such as internet, email and VoIP. As with Vizadaʼs other connectivity services, the new offering can be combined with one or a range of value-adds ‒
ʻVizada Solutionsʼ ‒ to improve data transfer, increase security, and help control communications costs. Pharostar will round out a portfolio which already includes Inmarsat FleetBroadband and Iridium OpenPort, and aims to offer customers a wide choice in terms of data connectivity speeds, coverage, terminal and antenna size. Reading between the lines, it seems the service was introduced to satisfy the growing number of shipowner clients wishing to install dual VSAT/FleetBroadband on their vessels.
Inmarsat kit helps net illegal fishers in Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea has chosen a specialist vessel monitoring system, powered by Inmarsat C, to crack down on illegal fishing in its waters. VComms, a subsidiary of Australia-based Inmarsat partner SatComms, was selected by the Papuaʼs National Fisheries Authority (NFA) to provide a technological solution for fisheries management under a multi-year agreement. Phase one of the implementation will include approximately 500 fisheries vessels, with considerable expansion planned for 2011. The NFA will
be able to monitor and control commercial fishing operations from one platform, enabling it to maintain sustainable stock levels. The VComms solution, which includes software, software maintenance and an airtime package, will aid the detection of illegal fishing operations by speeding up the validation of vessel position data against licensing records. The NFA will be able to establish in real time via Inmarsat C exactly what vessels in its waters are licensed to fish.
9000 TEU boxship is fine-tuned
US Navy locator beacon progress
The lines of a 9000 TEU containership series due to be built in China (for delivery in 2013) were significantly improved in a joint venture of the Chinese design office Maric and Germanischer Lloyd's subsidiary FutureShip. Shipowners Schulte Group (Germany) and Costamare (Greece) had requested the design review in order to optimise the vesselʼs efficiency. As a result of the optimisation, a smaller main engine can be installed than originally anticipated. The fuel consumption was reduced by more than 10% and CO2 emissions are cut by more than 90 tonnes per day. FutureShipʼs optimisation procedure generated 15 000 different hull designs and evaluated them numerically. The evaluation was based on computational fluid dynamics, where the flow around the ship is simulated in the computer to determine the actually required propulsion power. The most efficient design was compared to the base design in model tests, which were performed in December at the Hamburg Ship Model Basin (HSVA). The optimised model had a significantly lower total resistance than the base design. For the real ship this corresponds to substantial fuel and cost savings per day. The optimisation expenses are amortised within a few days of operation for the series of six ships.
The United States Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) has confirmed its support of global marine safety equipment provider Mobilarmʼs V200 Submariner VHF Locator Beacon development project, by exercising its option to purchase an additional US$300 000 worth of test units and engineering services. The option was exercised following initial testing success of the VHF Locator Beacon and precedes extensive final capability testing. NAVSEA will then look to procure the V200 for its submarine fleet. Mobilarm was awarded a contract by NAVSEA in April 2010 to develop a modified version of the V100 VHF Locator Beacon specifically for use during and after an at-sea evacuation from a submarine. Sea trials are planned to take place in June 2011 when NAVSEA will undertake a large-scale sea and air capability demonstration involving multiple vessels and aircraft from the US Navy fleet and United States Coast Guard, including satellite tracking of the beacon's AIS capability. The capability testing follows on from a joint exercise between the US Navy and Royal Australian Navy last November, which confirmed the ʻwearabilityʼ and operational benefits of the beacon.
Iridium energises satphone modem connections Seafarers tethering satellite phones to their laptops should be able enjoy faster data transfers, thanks to upgraded optimisation software supplied by Iridium Communications. The satcoms operator has updated its Direct Internet software package, making it easier and faster to connect to the Internet using the Iridium 9555 and 9505A satellite phones (or, for that matter, its 9522B L-Band Transceiver). 4
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Direct Internet 3 (DI3) takes advantage of new data compression, caching and network optimisation techniques to improve web connectivity over the Iridium satellite network. According to independent testing, Internet browsing using DI3 is up to 5.4 times faster than with no acceleration technology installed. According to Iridium, this is around 20% faster than the previous incarnation, DI2.
ʻOur subscribers are increasingly looking to use Iridium devices to connect laptops to the Internet from remote locations,ʼ said Joel Thompson, vice president of product management. ʻDirect Internet 3 will greatly improve user experience by speeding page download times and data transmission through the Iridium network.ʼ Iridium 9555: DI3 gives improved performance
A new tide turns for ABS Nautical Systems
Full support for OpenPort at more than 50 ports
Offshore operator Tidewater is to trial fleet management software from ABS Nautical Systems. The software provider is naturally hopeful that the pilot project will translate into a concrete order. Tidewater ‒ which owns just under 400 vessels ‒ would be replacing an internal system with ABS Nautical Systemsʼ fully integrated software suite to help manage its principal operational functions including maintenance, vessel-initiated requisitions and relevant regulatory requirements. The operator will implement a variety of modules from the NS5 suite including Maintenance & Repair, Drydocking, On-Demand Reporting and Web Based Vessel Drawings, to name a few, as well as interfaces to its current and future ERP solutions. Following a successful pilot phase, the modules will be installed in a phased approach on approximately 185 of Tidewaterʼs vessels over the next two years. ʻABS Nautical Systems will provide a structure in which to schedule and track our maintenance and thus continue to build uniformity throughout our entire organisation, while simultaneously and seamlessly integrating our supply chain processes,ʼ said Bill Scott, Tidewater engineering and technical services manager. ʻWe are confident that with the systemʼs Class integration and the assembled teamʼs experience, this project will be a success.ʼ * ABS Nautical Systems has opened offices in Vancouver and Shanghai as part of the companyʼs continued drive to expand its global footprint. The Vancouver office will serve key local clients including Teekay Corporation, Seaspan Ship Management and Valles. The Shanghai office, meanwhile, was established to capture mindshare and develop business in the booming Chinese market.
Iridium is establishing a ʻGlobal Service Programʼ (GSP) for its Iridium OpenPort broadband product. The program aims to provide full-service shipboard support to any OpenPort customer at more than 50 ports around the globe. Iridium claims to be the first mobile satcoms provider to offer this level of customer support. The success of GSP will depend on the strength og its network of technicians located around the globe. Therefore it bodes well the satcoms provider has signed an agreement with Radio Holland to be the first service partner for the program. In this role, Radio Holland will be required to provide portside technical support and assist Iridium with efficient global logistics, managing three regional service centres enabling timely support at all major ports worldwide. ʻIridium recognises the critical nature of maritime communications, and has established this program to
Solid-state radar installed on Korean gas carrier In a recent retrofit operation, the Korean 92 866gt LNG tanker SK Stellar was fitted with a Kelvin Hughes MantaDigital integrated navigation system. More significantly, however, it incorporated an SharpEye Sband radar interswitched with a 25kW X-band magnetron radar. (The shipʼs existing ECDIS was also replaced with a Kelvin Hughes unit.)
According to Kelvin Hughesʼ Mark Butler, SK Shipping was attracted to the SharpEye technology by improved reliability, minimal maintenance and low through life costs. He added that SharpEyeʼs solid state design is more effective in detecting small targets, especially in high levels of rain and sea clutter, than conventional radar hardware.
Amico fits Sperryʼs VisionMaster Sperry Marine has received orders to supply advanced electronic navigation systems for two new 37 000dwt bulk carriers to be built in Korea for Italian shipowner dʼAmico Dry. The orders were awarded through Telemar, the sales and service representative for Sperry in Italy. Telemar will oversee the installations and provide technical support and service for the shipboard navigation systems. Each of the ships is being fitted with a complete Sperry Marine VisionMaster FT integrated bridge system (IBS), including electronic chart display and information system, X- and S-band radars, autopilot, voyage data recorder and other navigation sensors and subsystems. All of the components are tied together in an Ethernet network.
provide customers timely expert support,ʼ said John Roddy, the companyʼs executive vice president of global operations and product development. ʻGSP is an important element in our business strategy, and in that context, the agreement with Radio Holland marks a significant milestone.ʼ In addition to establishing maritime service centres, Iridium is now also providing a five-year standard warranty for all OpenPort units. ʻIridium OpenPort offers the highest quality and lowest cost of ownership of any communications solution for shipʼs business and crew welfare. Ship operators have told us that they have experienced immediate savings after switching to Iridium OpenPort,ʼ reaffirms Roddy. Since its launch, ridium has shipped more than 3400 Iridium OpenPort terminals for use on a wide range of vessels, including commercial shipping fleets, government and navy vessels, fishing fleets, and personal yachts.
VStep caters to emergency needs Netherlands-based simulation software gurus VStep have unveiled two new products, this time specifically targeted towards navies and coast guard authorities. Nautis Naval Task Force is a software-based platform, which VStep claims is an affordable alternative to contemporary console-based maritime simulators. In addition to ship-handling, navigation and tactical communications training, it can be used to rehearse seamanship operations unique to the naval environment such as replenishment at sea, formation steaming, amphibious landings, helo flight deck operations, and plane guard/life guard station maneuvering and emergency response. The second new release is a maritime-flavoured add-on module for the companyʼs established RescueSim product, which has been deployed by emergency agencies worldwide to train personnel how to respond in serious incidents. The Shipboard Firefighting module is a tailor-made resource for training watchstanders and damage control team members. VStep states it ʻcan improve the reaction and knowledge of emergency responders thereby making actual drills much more effective.ʼ
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Eniram enhances pod efficiency
Azipods: Dynamic adjustments will reduce running costs Power and automation technology group ABB has decided to integrate optimisation technology from Helsinki-based Eniram into its Azipod propulsion system for new build vessels as well as retrofit projects. Eniramʼs pod optimisation system will dynamically adjust the Azipodʼs angular orientation, leading to reduced fuel consumption in comparison to manual operation. Results from a collaborative
study carried out last year by Eniram and ABB exceeded the originally anticipated fuel savings proving that the combined technology has the potential to increase vessel efficiency. ʻWith rising fuel costs and energy efficiency measures high on the agenda, shipping operators are under increasing pressure to maximise performance in all fields of vessel operations,ʼ said Eniram chief executive Philip Padfield.
New dawn for Damen Building around 150 ships, ranging from tugboats and ferries to navy frigates and super yachts each year, Damen Shipyards Group is typical of many yards seeking streamline their business processes and boost operational efficiency. In late 2009 it began deploying an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution from IFS Applications to improve project monitoring. This was carried out within the framework of the ʻDawnʼ project, in which the yard is introducing uniform processes, systems and master data in all product groups and throughout the production chain. The ERP system is said to have optimised information flows, hence resulting in reduced delivery times.
This spring, the yard will enter the latter phase of the deployment when it goes live with components for service management (covering ship repairs and spare parts sales), for handling warranty queries; for financial processes; and for contract/project management. IFS states its products are suited to all aspects of project management and asset lifecycle from engineering, procurement, material management and fabrication to installation and commissioning. Other customers in the maritime and offshore energy sectors include Grenland Group, Babcock Engineering Services, Heerema Fabrication Group, STX Europe, Dresser-Rand, Yantai Raffles and Seawell.
McMurdo adds to ELF and safety range
Swiss owner bets on ShipServ Geneva-based ABCmaritime is to use TradeNet ‒ the e-commerce platform from ShipServ ‒ to source spares and supplies for its fleet of chemical, oil and bitumen tankers and offshore vessels. The company manages around 30 vessels with part of the fleet owned by the ABC Group and part under management for third party owners. ABCmaritime vessels are equipped with the BASSnet purchasing software which is directly integrated to TradeNet. Using the BASS system, the ABC vessels can connect to the ShipServ Pages supplier directory, raise requests for quotations and place orders via TradeNet in co-ordination with shoreside offices.
Hellespont ditch their paperwork Hellespont Tankers, Teekay Corporation and Mabanaft join a community of tanker owners and operators, terminals and trading companies using the CargoDocs electronic document manager from ESS. ESS CargoDocs enable counterparts involved in international trade to manage the documentation required to ship and trade waterborne cargoes electronically, including original bills of lading, 6
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certificates of quality, quantity and origin. ESS also provides eAD, an electronic customs compliance service and eSDS, for creating and managing electronic safety data sheets. While CargoDocs has been live since early last year at the INEOS Finnart Terminal in the UK, the company is now rolling out the service at crude and gas terminals across the North, Black, Baltic, Norwegian and Mediterranean Seas.
The R10 activates automatically
McMurdo has unveiled two new products to its range of emergency location beacons. Both the Smartfind S10 emergency location flare (ELF) and the SafeLink R10 beacon incorporate AIS transponders. In the event of a crew member falling overboard, ships in the vicinity will be able to quickly find and rescue the missing person. The ELF is manually activated, while the R10 when mounted on a gas inflation lifejacket will automatically activate. Both products transmit target survivor information, including structured alert messages, GPS position information and a unique serialised identity number.
Super-yacht designers drive forward with Paramarine
Aveva unveils tool to quantify project savings
A marine design software tool Paramarine - developed by QinetiQ GRC has been deployed by Bernard Olesinski to manage the increasingly complex stability analysis that is required on larger vessels. Since it was founded by Bernard Olesinski in 1972, the company has designed over 25 000 boats. The last decade has seen the company evolving into large and more complex yacht design working with a number of market leading clients including Princess and Fairline. ʻParamarineʼs naval architectural analysis capabilities and seamless integration functionality allows us to bring forward our analysis to an earlier stage of the design cycle. ʻWith its accuracy, reporting capabilities and flexibility, it has had a very positive impact on
Ship design software provider Aveva has revealed its Instrumentation Business Value Calculator (BVC), an interactive tool that calculates the savings that can be achieved by engineering companies by adopting the latest instrumentation technology. The BVC assists with estimating the time and cost savings a business could achieve by implementing Aveva Instrumentation, a lifecycle solution for designing, installing and maintaining instrumentation in both plants and ships. Based on typical working practices and feedback from the users of Aveva Instrumentation, the BVC demonstrates the savings that are achievable in a real project. Using parameters such as head count, hourly costs and input/outputs which users
the whole yacht design process,ʼ observed Gerard Grandcourt, Senior Naval Architect, Bernard Olesinski Paramarine is based on 20 yearsʼ experience in marine design. Thousands of concept vessels have been modelled and their stability analysed using Paramarine. It is used by many of the worldʼs leading shipbuilders, as well as many of the worldʼs leading universities including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and University College London. ʻIntroducing Paramarine immediately gave us a significant benefit in that it allowed us to integrate our CAD software data into Paramarine without any issues. This has had a significant impact on the time it takes us to create a design,ʼ added Grandcourt.
can input themselves, they can calculate savings in man hours and money across a number of deliverables. The BVC highlights the benefits of Aveva Instrumentation such as more productivity through catalogues and rule-based automation, and better project quality through right first time design and automatic, accurate materials and production information. ʻUsers of Aveva Instrumentation have already seen benefits such as a 30% cost saving in man hours and a 50% rise in productivityʼ, said Dave Gibson, the company's Product Strategy Manager. ʻWe have engaged with our customers to obtain working examples in order that BVC assessments match real-life savings.,ʼ he added.
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Epic ensures the video keeps playing Representing the third generation of Norwegian Cruise Line’s ‘Freestyle’class, the 156 000gt Norwegian Epic surpasses the operator’s previous largest ‘Jewel’-class vessel by almost 60 000gt. Though still a third smaller by gross tonnage than Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, the 330m Epic can accommodate some 4400 passengers (double occupancy) and a complement of around 1700 staff and crew. As might be expected of cruise ship this size, the Epic also houses a considerable amount of technology, variously selected to ensure passengers can entertain themselves whatever the hour and however rough the sea might be. Highlights include a sophisticated in-cabin interactive television (ITV) system, that lets passengers make reservations for onboard performances and book shore excursions; select from a large library of on-demand movies; and play video poker; to an innovative facial recognition system that links all guests’ onboard photographs. 8
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It has become the stuff of legend that when the Titanic hit an iceberg its orchestra kept playing right to the bitter end. For modern cruise operators it is essential that onboard entertainment systems can cope with demand spikes when passengers return to their cabins en masse in bad weather or rough seas The ITV system was supplied by Allin Interactive – an established player in the cruise sector. Since starting up business in 1996, the Florida-based company has installed ITV systems on over 60 cruise vessels. Its hardware can be found in over 70 000 cabins, and is used by nearly 100 000 passengers every week. Per-
In bad weather, most passengers return to their cabins to watch a movie. This means there could be more than 3000 concurrent streams Alexandre Arnodin ̶ Anevia
The 330m Epic can accommodate some 4400 passengers, and entertain them at the same time with an advanced on-demand video system
haps more significant, these passengers are completing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of transactions each year, which goes into the coffers of the vessels’ operators. Allin’s most advanced offering is its DigiMix solution, which is available three specifications for high and standard definition digital broadcast and for traditional RF broadcasts (the latter avoiding the cost of wiring Ethernet to every cabin, thus making it suited to budget retrofit installations). NCL, however, selected the top-of-the-range HD variant, deployed in combination with a Toucan 500 streaming server from Anevia, a specialist in video streaming solutions. ‘The combined solution allows cruise ships to deliver branded content and interactive services for a unique media experience,’ stated Allin Interactive managing director Brian Blair. ‘Delivered via the ship’s IP network, services can be populated
Operators refresh cabin ITV
with videos, photos and businessspecific content such as shore excursion ticket preview and purchasing, gaming and TV shopping.’ Scalability matters Anevia might be familiar to readers as the commercial entity established by the former developers of the VLC media player. The team now focus on creating highly scaleable video streaming solutions for a customer base ranging from large telcos to small hotel operators. Company co-founder Damien Lucas says: ‘Scaleable is not just a buzzword. While hotels might only need to deliver 50-60 [video] streams at any one time, telcos are looking to serve content to hundreds of thousands of consumers simultaneously.’ But, he tells MITE that cruise-ships are a special case: ‘The challenge of maritime installations, such as the Norwegian Epic, is that the video delivery system has characteristics from both ends of the spectrum. On one hand, it is a small-scale hospitality network, but on the other it requires the same level of performance as a telco service. In
bad weather or rough seas, most passengers return to their cabins and sit down to watch a movie. This means there could be more than 3000 concurrent streams!’ The Toucan 500 server is a VoD and network-based personal video recording (nPVR) streamer that provides a full range of HD services including catch-up and pause TV. It is delivered as a bootable USB memory stick, which will self-install when plugged into most off-the-shelf carrier grade servers, such as those from Hewlett Packard or IBM. ‘The ability to run from standard hardware is advantageous from a maintenance perspective,’ notes Lucas. ‘HP and IBM can commit to service level agreements to replace malfunctioning servers within 12 hours. This is unlikely to be the case with suppliers of purpose-built VoD equipment.’ Meanwhile Anevia’s Alexandre Arnodin highlights another benefit: ‘Because our solution is software based, it is not constrained by hardware obsolescence. The site IT team can ramp-up performance simply by switching in faster boxes. They have the freedom to keep up with Moore’s Law.’ Virtual environment The system can also be delivered as a virtual disk suitable for installation in virtual machine (VM) environments. ‘In a virtualised set up, several machines run on the same piece of hardware. For instance, one VM for the VoD server, one for the middleware and another for the content database etc,’ says Arnodin. ‘This makes good sense for small-scale deployments, such as 200-room hotel – or smaller passenger ship. Theoretically, you could run the whole installation from a MacMini!’ he continues. Other notable features on the Toucan VoD server include a circular buffer, which enables timeshifting functions on a live channel, scheduled recording of live multicasts, playlists (either
CELEBRITY CRUISES has upgraded its existing Allin interactive television system aboard the Celebrity Constellation to the DigiMix platform. Allin chief executive Richard Talarico reports that the upgrade was carried out cost effectively and with ʻvirtually no interruptionʼ to onboard service. The look-and-feel of the system was enhanced, with new functionality added to both the front-end guest interface and the back-end content management application. According to Allin, the upgrade will increase the systemʼs operational efficiency and offer additional reporting capabilities. The company carried out similar upgrades on three Royal Caribbean vessels ‒ the Explorer of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas. Both cruise operators are among Allinʼs earliest customers, with installations dating back 10 years.
multicasted or on-demand), and an efficient storage indexing system for ‘trick plays’ (such as fast forward/fast rewind etc). The Epic marks one of the first major roll-outs of Allin’sDigiCasino, which extends the casino experience into individual cabins. An interactive cashier lets passengers purchase and redeem gaming credits that can be used for interactive play. All purchases made through ITV are applied to the passenger’s shipboard account. Facial recognition Another high-tech innovation aboard the Epic is the YouFinder facial recognition software. When passengers board the vessel, their picture is taken and linked to their onboard identification and charge card. This image is also forwarded to YouFinder’s proprietary indexing system, where it provides sufficient data to match guests’ faces with any photos taken by the ships’ team of roving house photographers during the cruise. When guests want to view and purchase their photos, they go to an onboard kiosk, swipe their ID card and immediately view their cruise memories. From here, they can order select images and have them printed out by the ship’s photo team or purchase a CD containing all images to take home. MITE February/March 2011
A high-fibre diet is good for passengers Connecting all the electronic services expected by passengers on modern cruise ships – from telephone networks and high-definition satellite TV to fast Internet and gaming entertainment systems – using a traditional copper cable is not without its challenges. Copper is in many ways the perfect material for wiring. It is malleable and ductile, a great conductor of electricity and resistant to corrosion. Polymer-insulated copper cables have been in use since the 1920s, while the PVC-insulated cables that are still predominant today were introduced in the 1950s. But, as with anything in life, there are disadvantages too. Copper is not the most environmentally-sound material and in recent times its cost has skyrocketed too. The dramatic price rises – 30% in 2010 – are primarily due to increased demand from China. However, it has also become a target commodity for 10
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MITE investigates why cruise operators might consider replacing cumbersome copper wiring with light-weight, high-capacity fibre optics
financial speculators. Regardless of what economic forces are at work, one thing is for certain: the cost of installing and maintaining a copper-based infrastructure is continuing to rise. Signal loss The other major shortcoming is signal loss over distance. While not an issue for voice traffic, as anyone who has tried to set up ADSL broadband at home will be quick to appreciate, the higher frequencies employed for data transmission are much more susceptible to attenuation. This is
becoming an increasing problem as Internet applications become ever more sophisticated and greedy for information. Furthermore, copper is a relatively heavy material. On land, this is rarely, if ever, a significant issue, but when it comes to ships weight is an important consideration. So what’s the answer? Optical fibre. Of course, fibre is by no means a new technology. It is well-established in the terrestrial telecommunications sector. However, the shipbuilding industry has been slow to exploit it. Arguably, until now, there has been little need for the high-capacity, lightweight connections it can provide. But as the IP-based electronic amenities on ships – especially high-end cruise ships – become more and more deeply entwined with passenger experience, so this is starting to change. Moreover, there have been practical hurdles in its application. It is only relatively recently
Hardened Ethernet arrives that it has become cost-effective for large, multi-room facilities, such as hotel resorts – and by extension, cruise ships. Therefore, it is with a good timing that a UK-based audio-visual systems integrator, IVC Media, launched a fibre-optic based system for maritime designed to unify the infrastructure for entertainment, communications and safety/security systems. Energy savings ‘The solution removes the need for laying duplicate copper cable networks, resulting in significant energy savings (up to 50%) and potential weight reductions (up to 25%),’ explains Ray Harding, chairman of IVC Media. ‘This is mainly because, passive (Ed: non-powered) optical splitters eliminate the need to have localised power supplies unlike conventional network switches. Because optical networks can run distances measured in kilometres rather than metres, the need to have multiple power hungry network switches (as in the copper approach) is eliminated. Over time, this results in a significant cost saving, which in the current climate is something that cruise ship operators cannot afford to ignore.’ In the past, separate infrastructures would be required for each sub-system: cable TV, phones, fire alarms etc. Few components could be integrated, and even fewer could share the same piece of copper. Now, many of the components that make up these internal infrastructures, such as CCTV, door entry and fire alarms, come with standard network connections that allow them to be accessed and controlled via a common fibre network. Capital expenditure is also reduced. The installation of an integrated solution over one common optical network, needs fewer components and as a result, labour costs are reduced. At the heart of IVC Media’s system is the Gigabit Passive Op-
AMERICAN NETWORK equipment manufacturer Transition Networks has introduced a new industrial grade Ethernet switch, certified by the classification society Germanischer Lloyd (GL) for use in marine applications. The GL stamp of approval should bolster customer confidence in the safety performance and reliability of Ethernet-based LANs onboard ships and offshore platforms. In addition to GL certification, the catchily named SISTM1040-262E-LRT has Class 1 Div 2 certification from North American standards agency, UL. Together these mean the switch can be used without risk of interfering with other equipment or igniting hazardous fumes. In particular, GL certification ensures it will not interfere with shipboard radio communications. ʻTransition is committed to providing fibre connectivity for any environment,ʼ said Patrick Schaber, marketing director at Transition Networks. ʻBy gaining GL approval, we can now take our products to the sea.ʼ The ruggedised Transition switch is designed to provide high availability dual-speed fiber connectivity to network devices that may be located in remote harsh environments and exposed to temperature extremes. It has sixteen 10/100Base-TX RJ-45 ports plus two 10/100/1000Base-T RJ-45 or 100/1000Base-X SFP combo ports. All the RJ-45 ports support auto-negotiation and AutoCross, while the SFP ports support both 100Base-FX and 1000Base-X SFP optics. Software features include support for IEEE 802.1Q VLANs, IEEE 802.1P Class of Service, IGMP for multimedia applications, X-ring, Dual Homing, Couple and Dual Ring Topologies providing redundant backup and recovery times below 20ms. The switch can be managed via telnet and command line interfaces as well as through its built-in web interface. Support for industry standard SNMP v1/v2c/v3 means it can be controlled through thirdparty open management software packages.
tical Network (GPON). For the technically minded, GPON is a point-to-multipoint, fibre-to-theend network architecture in which non-powered optical splitters are used to enable a single optical fibre to serve numerous – theoretically infinite number of – network terminals across multiple locations. In the context of a cruise ship, this means that entertainment systems in passenger cabins, such as HDTV, radio, video-on-demand, broadband
and telephone, as well as safety and security subsystems for door access, electronic lock release (triggered by fire alarm) and fire detection, can be delivered down the same fibre optic cable. Simultaneous delivery Harding adds that because several multimedia services can operate simultaneously over a single fibre-optic network, it makes ongoing network maintenance less strenuous for the ship’s IT managers. The same approach can be extended to public areas and conference and meeting rooms too, streamlining the delivery of IPTV, audio visual systems, telephony, fast broadband, video conferencing, WiFi and digital signage. CCTV and access control for the entire ship can be centrally managed. A faster, higher capacity network can indirectly facilitate revenue generation, argues Harding: ‘This is because multiple services can be comfortably delivered to passenger on the same platform, using a single connection. A particularly frenetic multi-tasking passenger could indulge in surfing the web, catching the latest TV show in high-definition, while chatting on the phone to a friend several cabins down. And, by doing so, hopefully raise some cash for the cruise operator in the process.’ Crucially, GPON can support legacy cable TV and analogue systems, an important consideration in upgrade projects. Harding points out also that it has built in network redundancy to ensure continuity of service. So with lower installation and maintenance costs, greater capacity and even the opportunity to create new revenue streams, why haven’t cruise ships phased out copper cables and jumped on to GPON technology sooner? Less space, hardware, cabling, power and efficient use of a single fibre all make the GPON an environmentally friendly and economically attractive architecture for ships. MITE February/March 2011
A cruise ship the size of the Azura requires around 150 WiFi access points
Factor in Faraday for faster WiFi ‘The thing about designing RF-based networks is that each environment brings its own set of advantages and disadvantages. The trick is to take these into account, utilising the former and minimising the latter,’ explains Aruba Networks’ Roger Hockaday. Wireless infrastructure from Aruba Networks was specified by Carnival UK for the Azura, launched last April and operated by P&O Cruises, and more recently the Queen Elizabeth, which took its maiden voyage in October. In addition to its growing cruise-ship customer base, Aruba has supplied WiFi infrastructure to numerous land-based projects, including Heathrow’s Terminal 5. ‘T5 is at the opposite end of the spectrum to cruise ships. It is a very large open space with areas of high user density. In these conditions, access points (APs) [Ed: Aruba’s preferred terminology for ‘base stations’] have to be 12
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It is commonly thought that a vesselʼs steel superstructure is a hindrance to deploying onboard WiFi. But the Faraday cage it creates can actually be helpful
relatively close together to ensure that available bandwidth matches user demand. But doing this increases the likelihood of co-channel interference between adjacent units,’ says Hockaday. WiFi comes in two flavours: 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz. Base stations working on 2.4GHz – such as most consumer-grade home routers or older office installations – provide 13 discrete frequencies around which a signal can be centred. Each frequency
ARM has made the installation process a whole lot more straightforward
is 20MHz wide, so to avoid overlap of more than -3dBm, these are typically spaced out on channels 1, 6 and 11. Coloured pens and paper The idea is then to ensure adjacent base stations are operating on different channels. ‘It’s a similar process to colouring in a map of the world in three colours, while making sure that adjoining countries are filled in a different shade,’ clarifies Hockaday. ‘Except with a WiFi topology, you are working in three dimensions as you have to consider the floors – or decks – above and below you.’ In fact, in the early 2000s, this was a pretty realistic description of how networks were planned: with coloured pens and paper. But naturally things have moved on: ‘Today, the APs are much more intelligent. They will connect back to the controller at the network’s hub to find out what frequencies neighbouring units are operating on and then
Adaptive Radio Management key features: ADAPTIVE POWER AND CHANNEL ASSIGNMENTS: Automatically assigns channel and power settings for all APs in the network. Automates many set-up tasks during network installation and during ongoing operation as the level of WiFi interference and RF noise change. COORDINATED ACCESS TO A SINGLE CHANNEL: Allows nearby APs on the same channel to share spectrum without increasing co-channel interference. Overcomes the challenges of dense AP deployments in the 2.4-GHz band. BAND STEERING: Load balances dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n wireless clients between 2.4- and 5-GHz frequency bands in order to ensure fair allocation of 802.11 channel resources within the wireless LAN. CHANNEL LOAD BALANCING: Ensures the even distribution of clients across available channels in a given area to avoid overloading a single channel or AP. AIRTIME FAIRNESS: Provides equal access to the wireless medium for all clients, regardless of client type, capability, or operating system. The result is uniform performance for all wireless LAN clients. AIRTIME PERFORMANCE PROTECTION: Delivers uniform performance by preventing clients ‒ especially slower ones ‒ from monopolising resources. COVERAGE HOLE DETECTION: Detects and notifies the network manager when clients are unable to associate at acceptable speeds.
adjust their own frequency accordingly.’ In short, they are autonomously adapting to their environment to minimise potential interference. Aruba Networks has named its implementation of this technology Adaptive Radio Management. ‘ARM has made the installation process a whole lot more straightforward than was previously the case,’ says Hockaday. ARM optimises network and client performance in real-time. RF band and channel adjustments, power output levels, access point load balancing, airtime allocation, and interference mitigation are dynamically adjusted to ensure that latencysensitive data, telemetry, voice and video applications have sufficient network resources to operate reliably. Further, because sources of interference can degrade performance, wireless networks are often augmented with built-in RF spectrum analysis. Working together, ARM and spectrum
analysis close the gap between the theoretical performance of WiFi clients and what is achieved in real world deployments. New frequency The introduction of a 5Ghz WiFi standard also makes life less stressful. ‘The 5Ghz band has 23 usable channels [compared to 3 on 2.4Ghz] and provides more spectrum, and thus bandwidth. Furthermore, it is a much quieter
The network controller can generate a ʻheatmapʼ, showing power levels, interference and speed at each site
band – for example transmissions won’t be disrupted by microwave ovens (which just so happen to operate on 2.4Ghz!)’ However, not all devices connecting to the network are yet compatible with 5Ghz, particularly older equipment. Even Apple’s iPad will, due to its internal design, attempt to initiate a connection on 2.4Ghz until the network tells it that 5Ghz is available. So for the time being, Aruba’s APs will continue to be dual frequency. And then we come to maritime installations. As MITE readers are probably aware, a ship’s steel frame and bulkheads create a Faraday cage. From an RF-network design point-of-view, this means co-channel interference is considerably diminished. ‘In many cases, the structure acts as a natural block. But it does mean more APs are required to cover a given area.’ A large cruise ship, such as the Azura or Queen Elizabeth, requires in the region of 150 APs for public passenger areas. These will be supplemented by a number of ruggedised units for outdoor areas. On top of this, another 50 or so will be provisioned for the crew accommodation block. ‘This is a dramatic improvement on the traditional approach, which was to provide crew limited wired access from a couple of old terminals in a dingy backroom. WiFi gives them the freedom to use their own laptops to stay in touch with their family etc. From a cruise operator’s perspective this is not purely altruistic: if you have a happy crew, you most likely have a happy ship.’ Are APs rolled out as far as the engine control room or bridge? Not always. The deployment tends to be driven the applications needed. For the time being there are no compelling reasons to put wireless in these areas, when the required connectivity can be provided by conventional Ethernet cables. However, Hockaday believes this could change. ‘At the moment onboard MITE February/March 2011
MTN upgrade brings WiFi access to all areas
telephony is provided by a DECT network. But if trends on land are anything to go by, VoIP is definitely on the horizon. The turning point will be when the VoIP alternative is deemed resilient enough to meet the regulations for maintaining communications in emergency situations.’ Physical infrastructure In size, the APs are not much larger than a typical home-router but are rarely visible. Although they can be affixed to the ceiling, for aesthetic reasons, the main part of the unit is hidden away in the ceiling void with only a low profile antenna protruding. Each box is cabled back to the central controller. But it is important the devices are sited in the correct locations from the original commissioning as subsequent rerouting can be expensive. According to Hockaday, an experienced wireless engineer will intuitively recognise best sites, but they also have a variety of CAD and other 3D planning tools at their disposal to confirm those instincts. After the wiring is done, a ship plan can be imported to the central controller, on to which the IT manager can drop pins on the site of each AP. From here, the controller can generate a dynamically updated map of the network, showing the power level (-dBm), interference, speed and other parameters at each site. Thus, if a passenger (or member of hotel staff) complains about the ‘network going down’, the IT manager has a quick way of confirming whether this is the case and responding accordingly. Flexible arrangement Hockaday notes that cruise operators periodically change the layout of passenger amenities. ‘One season an area might be a casino, the following year it might be refitted as a restaurant. In the past, this might have involved repositioning Ethernet ports and cabling, adding to the cost of the work. 14
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SILVERSEA CRUISES recently commissioned MTN Satellite Communications (MTN) to upgrade and expand the WiFi network aboard two of its vessels: Silver Wind and flagship Silver Spirit. ʻWith the upgraded WiFi, passengers and crew have access to high-quality wireless Internet anywhere on the ship,ʼ said Jason Cohn, manager of IT shipboard infrastructure, Silversea Cruises. ʻWe believe this gives us a competitive edge in the cruise marketplace, and we will work with MTN over the coming months to roll out the service across other ships in our fleet.ʼ The new WiFi networks installed on Silver Wind and Silver Spirit provide wireless connectivity throughout the ships, including passenger cabins, public spaces, outside decks and pool area, as well as crew quarters. The set-up utilises MTNʼs satellite broadband service to link ship and shore, which is then routed around the vessel by a network of access points from Aruba Networks. ʻTodayʼs cruise passengers increasingly expect the same comforts and conveniences they get when staying in a luxury hotel or resort, and that includes high-speed Internet to access the web, send email and update their social media pages,ʼ said Brent Horwitz, senior vice president, MTN cruise and ferry services. MTN has also kitted Silversea cruise ships with its worldwide TV service, which uses three overlapping satellite beams to deliver programming from six major television network providers (BBC World News, CNBC, MSNBC, Fox News, Sky News, and Sky Sports News). Silver Wind: The wireless network will complement public Internet terminals
The wireless infrastructure however does not incur this overhead. The re-design is not constrained by location of Ethernet sockets and can be chopped and changed at will.’ Usage pattern So to what extent is the onboard WiFi utilised? While Internet is a headline value-added service for passengers and some do take advantage of this, the primary use is for enabling electronic pointof-sale transactions at the ship’s various venues. ‘The network is essential for the efficient functioning of the cashless environment,’ emphasises Hockaday. ‘Besides, the passengers are supposed to be enjoying themselves at the casinos and what have you – not forever checking their work emails.’ An unexpected benefit of wireless in public areas is that it helps passengers know whereabouts on ship other family members are. ‘On a large vessel it is very easy to get lost or become separated. However, the network means anyone with a WiFi-enabled device can be tracked and located within a few metres accuracy. Parents are able to check that their children are where
they are supposed to be and not getting up to mischief!’ What about passenger cabins? These are currently beyond the reach of WiFi. But, Hockaday is certain this won’t be the case much longer: ‘Passengers won’t be satisfied with an Ethernet socket. The emerging generation of Internet-enabled gadgets – smartphones, trendy tablet devices, portable games consoles etc – do not have an Ethernet connection. So their functionality is limited as soon as passengers return to their rooms, which is probably the time they most want to use them.’ In short, there is a disconnect (both metaphorically and actual) between the user who sees wireless as the primary mode of connectivity, and the IT dept which is still working on wired networks. And this, according to Hockaday, is beginning to cause some heartache. But he believes a simple solution is already available, in the form of a small low-cost, shortrange WiFi AP that can be plugged into the existing Ethernet socket of each cabin. And does Aruba Networks have such a product in its portfolio? Of course it does. MITE October/November 2010
Academies invest in latest training aids With its eyes on the burgeoning Western Australia oil and gas business, the Australian Maritime College (AMC) in Perth opened a new dynamic positioning (DP) operator training centre last November. ‘Prior to opening our first DP operator training centre in Tasmania last year, Australian trainees would have to travel to Europe or the US for DP courses, so we are delighted to be expanding our capacity so soon,’ comments John Foster, chief executive at AMC. At its heart is an extensive simulator installation from Kongsberg Maritime, including the K-POS Basic DP Trainer and the K-POS Advanced DP Trainer with instructor station and dual redundant DP control system. All equipment has been designed and delivered in accordance with the Nautical Institute requirements and can be used to practice DP operations on four models: Generic Supply Vessel, Generic Drill Ship, Generic Semi Submersible and Generic Tanker. Kongsberg’s DP simulators exactly mirror the company’s actual DP systems installed on hundreds of vessels worldwide, making it possible to perform complete training covering platform support, realistic offshore loading operations, close proximity operations in offshore oilfields and emergency manoeuvres. Elsewhere, the Canadian arm of Kongsberg Maritime has reported strong performance in the latter half of 2010 with a string of contracts covering the whole spectrum from ship’s bridge, dynamic positioning and radar sim-
Despite testing economic conditions, marine academies around the world are continuing to invest in simulators, which is good news for Kongsberg Maritime ulators through to engine room and naval simulators. The company will deliver a full suite of bridge and engine room simulators at the Canadian Coast Guard College (CCGC) in Sydney, Nova Scotia. The bridge simulator includes a full mission DNV Class A, four DNV Class B simulators and a range of own-ship and area databases. The CCGC will also receive a full-mission engineroom simulator, together with eight desktop systems and a range of engine models. The Centre for Marine Simulation (CMS) in St. John’s, Newfoundland will receive a full mission Neptune engine-room simulator in addition to eight
College personnel inspect Kongsbergʼs BigView
new desktop trainers. As part of the delivery, four NMS-90 ship’s bridge simulators will be modernised by integration of the Polaris simulation software platform and Kongsberg’s new MultiFlex technology – a touchscreen panel capable of displaying up to five software panels in place of hardware. In Vancouver, the Marine Campus of the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) will gain the first full-mission diesel-electric engine-room simulator in Canada and what is believed to be the only dedicated 360-degree tug bridge in the Americas. Finally, Lockheed Martin has contracted Kongsberg to upgrade the Canadian Navy's shore-based ship's bridge simulation trainers in support of the Combat Systems Integration (CSI) portion of the HalifaxClass Modernization (HCM) project. MITE February/March 2011
Alarm, monitoring and control systems are frequently linked to service networks which gather intelligence and statistics regarding system failures, service records and other data. However Lloyds Register and other class societies will not certify any such interconnected systems that are then linked to the Internet for information uploading purposes. The concern is that if an unfriendly third-party were to gain access a control system it could do a great deal of damage by disrupting or even corrupting crucial systems. These fears are not unfounded. Stuxnet is a computer worm targeted at industrial equipment that was first discovered in July 2010. It managed to infect facilities tied to Iran's controversial nuclear programme before re-programming control systems to repeatedly spin up then slow down high-speed centrifuges, inducing more failures than normal as a result. While it is not the first time that hackers have targeted industrial systems, it is the first discovered worm that spies on and reprograms them, and the first to include a programmable logic controller (PLC) rootkit. More16
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Linking onboard alarm and control systems to the web can lead to costsavings but also carries risks by opening a vessel up to the threat of ʻcyber-attacksʼ. Engineers at Alewijnse think they have now developed a solution
over, it was specifically written to attack Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems used to control and monitor industrial processes, including those used on ships. The rootkit-style functionality meant Stuxnet could reprogram the PLCs to hide its presence on infected systems. The malware contained, among other things, code for a ‘man-inthe-middle’ attack that fakes control sensor signals so an infected system does not shut down due to abnormal behaviour However caution carries a price: enabling authorised thirdparties to connect to a ship in real time in order to monitor the vessel’s condition and respond to issues as they arise has the po-
tential to deliver substantial savings both in time and money. This spurred Alewijnse to develop the ASDE – or Alewijnse Safe Data Exchange – to act as a firewall between the alarm monitoring and control system and the service network, providing a sophisticated layer of protection that ensures that unauthorised parties cannot gain control while at the same time facilitating the transfer of data via the Internet. The system can be configured to determine which elements are remotely monitored, via a simple user interface. ‘The control system on a modern vessel can have many hundreds of different alarms, but in most cases engineers are only interested in a small subset of these,’ says Peter Bouman, marine electronics product manager at Alewijnse. ADSE is currently in the final stages of development and is expected to be approved sometime in the second quarter of 2011. It was developed initially following a request from a major Dutch superyacht yard, however it is expected to be equally applicable to commercial as well as leisure vessels. The yard wanted to implement a system whereby certain
alarm signals could be fed into the vessel’s maintenance planning software, where they could act as triggers to instigate further actions. ‘For example, if a parameter on a pump exceeded a pre-determined threshold, a request might be sent for a replacement part,’ suggests Bouman. It is important to note that ASDE itself does not connect to the Internet. Rather, it acts a pipeline (with safety
valve) between the alarm/control system and other onboard software. Does Bouman think the Lloyds Register rules are outdated? ‘It is difficult to say. When the rules were put in place, the Internet was less mature than it is now and viewed with sceptism by the many in maritime industry. Although it is now part of everyday life, the threat of cyberattack is now more real than
Technology originally developed for critical aerospace applications now offers the maritime industry a breakthrough in electromagnetic interference (EMI) protection. A unique blend of fine metal fibres and polymer resin yarn has been developed by engineering company FederalMogul to create a lightweight woven fabric that screens both high and low frequency interference. Compared to established shielding methods, the material is said to offer savings of almost 30% in weight and up to 40% in bundle diameter, coupled with a substantial increase in flexibility. EMI is becoming an increasingly significant challenge as ships become more dependent on electronic data, with electronic systems becoming more complex and packaged more tightly together. If unprotected, the data can be corrupted by electromagnetic disturbances created by other onboard electrical systems. The problem is compounded by the increasing use of technologies that require high current flows that can increase the generation of EMI. According Federal-Mogul’s Philip Marks, conventional methods for EMI shielding are either only partially effective or make the wiring so inflexible that it becomes difficult to route within the space available. They also add weight when engineers are working hard to reduce it. EMI shielding performance is a function of metal content and metal coverage. Increased metal content – usually thicker braided
Aviation materials to cure interference wires – improves the low-frequency shielding performance but also adds weight and reduces flexibility. Higher frequencies can leak between the braided wires, especially if the wires are relatively thick, but specifying additional depth of braiding will further compromise weight and flexibility. The new Federal-Mogul technology overcomes these constraints by braiding nickel-plated copper wire with a proprietary polymer yarn. A specially developed manufacturing process places a high proportion of the metal content on the outside of the shielding where it is most effective. The result is an efficient, lightweight and flexible shielding material that can be supplied as tubular sleeves or as an easy-toapply self-wrap. The new technology was originally developed for the aviation industry where aircraft structures and trim are increasingly made from composites. ‘The move away from metals substantially reduces the inherent screening effect of the structure and other components, making local EMI management much more important,’ says Marks. ‘These principles are directly transferable to the maritime sector, where EMI is becoming an increasingly pressing challenge.’
ever. Stuxnet proves hackers have some pretty sophisticated tools at their disposal. ’ Among other techniques, ASDE thwarts many attack vectors by converting IP data into a serial stream. Furthermore, access from the outside is limited to read-only commands, not readwrite. In other words, an outside system can request and view data, but not amend it or, for that matter, inject malicious code.
An innovative combination of metal fibres and polymer yarn originally developed for aircraft provides lighter electromagnetic shielding for wiring on ships
MITE February/March 2011
Taking VSAT to the max Owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, the 126m Octopus mega-yacht has two helicopters pads, a 63ft tender, hatches that serve as docks for jet skis, and two submarines
For a VSAT provider focusing exclusively on installing and servicing the high-performance satcoms systems aboard the megayachts owned by some of the world’s richest individuals, ‘attention to detail’ is more than an empty platitude. It is absolutely essential. ‘VSAT is a fantastic technology capable of amazing things. But it also presents many challenges. Everything from installation planning to ongoing maintenance has to be done correctly, or you risk disappointing the people who depend on it,’ says Bertrand Hartman, chief executive of Mallorca-based OmniAccess. He quickly adds: ‘And our end-users probably rank among some of the least forgiving people out there.’ Although the satellite connectivity represents only a small outlay relative to the total cost of most megayachts, user dependency on the Internet is extremely high. ‘It’s one of those systems that the vessel owners actually have hands-on experience with. Like the onboard air-conditioning, 18
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Consistent ʻattention to detailʼ and a zero-tolerance approach to downtime are needed to ensure that VSAT systems perform at their best
they quickly realise when something’s not quite right,’ continues Hartman. ‘In addition to zero-tolerance, they typically bring unrealistic expectations of blazingly fast terrestrial Internet links aboard. And because they are paying more than they would on land, this can set the conditions for a conflict between expectations and what can actually be delivered.’ However VSAT can meet these expectations most of the time, a fact reflected by the growing volumes of data traffic passing through OmniAccess’ installa-
VSAT is a fantastic technology capable of amazing things. But it also presents many challenges
tions. Average monthly download volumes hover around the 150160Gb mark, but records show that one customer managed to download 914Gb – just short of a terabyte – or more than 30Gb/day. (For the record, they also uploaded 167Gb in the same period). To put this into perspective, according to the latest figures released by Ship Equip the average download on a VSAT-enabled merchant vessel is in the order of 20Gb/month (see MITE Oct/Nov 2010). The costs such usage would incur over a pay-as-you-go satcoms service don’t even bear thinking about. Simple experiment While these statistics highlight what maritime VSAT is capable of, links do from time-to-time fail, a point often raised by the technology’s critics. Therefore to get a better gauge of reliability, the engineers at OmniAccess carried out a rudimentary experiment comparing the downtime of an antenna fixed to their office roof to one out at sea. Both were con-
nected to an iDirect Evolution X5 below-deck unit and both were operating in the same satellite footprint on the same network etc. Over the course of two months, the roof-top unit suffered downtime of 0.18hours, while the vessel-based set-up experienced 42.51hours of link failure. Furthermore, the test looked only at the satellite segment – it excluded connectivity outages arising from the PCs and other equipment downstream of the modem. ‘While our methods might not stand up to scientific rigour, the conclusion was clear: the technology inside a typical modern antenna is mature and reliable. Yet, the reality experienced on ships is very different. A 99.8% uptime ratio might be acceptable against a target of 99.9%, but 42hrs downtime in two months is not,’ says Hartman. ‘Somewhere something is going wrong, as it appears most downtime is locally generated. Therefore, to keep our clients happy, we have to take ownership of all these problems.’ Notably, weather conditions were not a major contributory factor. As regular readers of MITE will be aware, rainstorms can adversely affect VSAT connections by causing signal attenuation. However, the introduction of technical fixes such as ACM means it is less of a problem than in the past. Also most OmniAccess’ clients sail their vessels in the Mediterranean or Caribbean seas, which are less prone to bad weather than, for example, Indonesia, where the effect of thunderstorms would have to be taken into consideration. Blind spots One of the most commonly seen causes for link outages are antenna blind spots. This tends to affect yachts more than merchant marine vessels, since often times design and aesthetics trump practicality. Yacht architects forget to integrate the antenna into their design at an early stage. It is typically remembered towards the end of the design process, when it
Like the onboard air-conditioning, [owners] quickly realise when somethingʼs not quite right with their broadband is placed at the least ‘design compromising’ spot. Unfortunately, this often impacts on the antenna’s 360-degree line-of-sight visibility to the satellite. This rather simplistic error, says Hartman, accounts for much of the divergence in performance at sea versus the results seen on the test station. ‘There is pretty much linear relationship. For instance, an 18deg obstruction to line-of-sight will lead to 5% [Ed: 18deg/360deg] downtime.’ Periodic adjustments Another problem area is incorrect configuration. ‘Configuration is not a one-off task. The initial settings of the antenna are important, but in day-to-day operation, the system also needs periodic adjustments to make sure nothing has gone astray,’ explains Hartman. For instance, gyro-compasses can change their heading and subsequently need adjusting. Tracking frequencies and heading offsets can also change. ‘You can’t just install it and think job done. It’s generally not heavy duty maintenance – normally no more than flicking a few switches’ However, it’s a matter of flicking the correct switches, stresses Hartman, or else the whole set-up could be rendered inoperable. ‘Then, you can fall into a doubletrap. If the link has gone and the crew don’t have sufficient redundancy, options for helping remotely are seriously constrained – either to offering support over the phone or visiting the vessel in question’. OmniAccess staff have – on occasion – had to fly out to make site visits, where the problem is then fixed in a matter of minutes. ‘Afterwards the captain will ask
Over the last decade antenna designs have changed very little, partly because there has been little competition in the market
the officer, couldn’t you have done that?’ remarks Hartman. Hartman recognises Inmarsat’s efforts in creating a package that in terms of installation and configuration is almost foolproof: ‘In this respect, they really have got their act together, compared to any of the VSAT providers out there today.’ This raises the question of whether antenna manufacturers should be putting greater energy into developing self-diagnosis systems for their hardware. Hartman for one believes there is room for improvement. ‘Over the last decade antenna designs have changed very little, partly because there has been little competition in the market.’ But he is optimistic the necessary improvements will come about eventually. Newer entrants to the maritime antenna business are looking at these issues and seeking innovative solutions to them. Perceived satcoms performance is also impacted by the PCs and other equipment utilising the link. A well-designed network will protect against rogue software (or hardware) hogging the connection. The situation today is that many vessels were originally built without networks onboard. Instead they have often been retrofitted in an ad-hoc fashion, growing incrementally as different needs and requirements have emerged, rather than built from the ground up. Sloppy networking can cause all sorts of problems. ‘The classic example here is that the onboard WiFi networks are horrendously insecure. We’ve had berthed owners complaining about speed/performance, when it turns out the whole port was taking a free ride on their WiFi. Unchecked, this can rapidly give rise to link saturation,’ explains Hartman, though he adds there are a host of more involved settings which can be made to make the network more robust. In contrast to merchant marine, many yachts do have the benefit of an onboard IT officer, due to the importance their ownMITE February/March 2011
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Profile of a typical billionaireʼs megayacht: ers attach to having good connectivity. But training remains a challenge, due to the interdisciplinary knowledge required and the lack of suitable training courses. Moreover, the majority of crew members don’t remain with the vessel more than two-years. ‘The real problems tend to crop up during the handover to their successors. Even in an ideal situation it is difficult for the existing officer to impart everything he knows to his successor, but it is not unusual to have no official handover. And producing and keeping bespoke documentation on the vessel’s unique configuration up-to-date is an onerous task, and one that often is relegated down the list of priorities. In recognition of this issue, OmniAccess has come up with what it calls the ‘virtual IT officer’ concept. The company maintains
Vessel building cost
Vessel operating cost
10-70 crew and 10-30 passengers
Predominant VSAT technology
Predominant antenna technology
1-1.5m Seatel or Orbit
Typical link speeds:
512/128kbps to 2048/512kbps
the vessel has a competent IT officer, if he is away from the vessel or sick, we can respond quickly without having to ask too many questions simply to get to the crux of the problem. In IT circles it is often said that identifying the source of the problem is 90% the way to solving it.’ The ‘virtual IT officer’ concept is somewhat akin to an insurance policy. And according to Hartman, it is an increasingly popular value-add among the company’s client-base. But on whether the idea could also spread to merchant marine, he is uncertain. ‘The demand is there, of course; especially from small to medium operators, who don’t have in-house IT support. But it is a difficult one to satisfy, because it presumes an intimate customer/ supplier relationship.’
all the necessary documentation relating to the vessel’s satcoms hardware and onboard network. Doing this allows it to respond swiftly and adeptly when a problem arises. Hartman elaborates: ‘Even if
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Vega voyages with FleetBroadband Crew working for German operator Vega-Reederei are set to enjoy the benefits of shipboard broadband when Stratos Global completes the installation of FleetBroadband on 16 out of the Hamburg-based companyʼs 33 strong fleet. In addition to fitting the FleetBroadband 250 terminals, Stratos will provide AmosConnect, its advanced maritime email application that can also be used to manage faxes and SMS text messages. Vega plans to use the always-on connection for its planned maintenance systems, purchase systems and remote management ‒ which allows headquarters personnel to manage the shipʼs computers without visiting the vessel. The system also has the potential to facilitate online engine-performance analysis and emissions monitoring, to help reduce fuel costs and comply
with emissions regulations. Before committing to the full roll-out, Vega had tested the technology on a number of its vessels over the course of several months. During this period, company IT head Achim Tober noted a ʻsignificant reductionʼ in airtime costs, compared to the
legacy Inmarsat Fleet 77 service. Tober was also happy with the ease that spam messages can be prevented with AmosConnect: ʻAll our vessels are set up with a blacklist and whitelist to ensure that spam messages do not make their way onboard. By using Amos-Connectʼs web portal, I can quickly
Tober noted a reduction in airtime costs
set up rule-based lists tailored for each vessel.ʼ By the time this magazine goes to press, Vega will also have deployed Stratosʼ AmosConnect Crew CommCenter, which enables personnel at sea to stay in contact with home via calling, private email and SMS at flat global rates. Stratos states the solution provides an easily manageable, separate account for each crewmember. The Internet functionality of the application is expanded beyond email to include Internet café features, such as prepaid chat, prepaid web browsing and access to global and local news services. Vega plans to roll out FleetBroadband to the remaining vessels as and when their existing airtime contracts expire. However, Tober told MITE that Fleet F77 will remain onboard as a backup mailing system.
BP Shipping deploys HarrisCapRock VSAT on 50+ vessels
US Coast Guard arms cutter fleet with Ku-band
More than 50 vessels serving in BP Shippingʼs global tanker fleet are to be equipped with VSAT from Harris CapRock. The communication providerʼs SeaAccess turnkey service will enable BP to extend its corporate IT network and applications to its ships, as well as provide additional crew welfare services. ʻWe decided to upgrade our VSAT network after assessing the benefits of the latest available technology,ʼ said Wasim Kayani, BP Shipping service management and infrastructure manager. ʻWe were looking to increase the services we can provide to our vessels while lowering the total cost of ownership. SeaAccess Communications offers the value-added services that we need to get the most out of our communications.ʼ
The US Coast Guard is to equip its large cutter fleet with Kuband VSAT satcoms as it embarks on a mission to upgrade the communications capability on 76 vessels. Integral Systems was selected as the prime contractor on the five-year, $10M project, following the involvement of its satcoms division ‒ formerly a separate entity, CVG Inc ‒ in a pilot programme a few years back to test the performance of iDirect satellite modems and routers. Implementation is due to begin imminently with three cutters. iDirect Government Technologies (iGT) president John Ratigan comments: ʻThe Coast Guard needs to be armed with the best technology to meet mission success. And this extends to satcoms for secure and reliable transmission of critical data.ʼ
SeaAccess will extend BPʼs corporate office capabilities to each vessel, enabling ship captains to send real-time reports on vessel operations, logistics and routes. Harris Cap-rock states the service will also improve crew welfare, specifically supporting the crewʼs heavy telephone traffic. Prior to choosing Harris CapRock, BP conducted extensive testing at the Harris CapRock United Kingdom (UK) facility in Aberdeen. The engineering team there developed a time division multiple access (TDMA) demonstration with test circuits for BPʼs experts to conduct real-time data transfers, make telephone calls and see first-hand the benefits of Harris CapRockʼs wide area network (WAN) optimisation service.
iGT will install its e8350 satellite routers that support DVB-S2 transmission technology using LDPC (Low Density Parity Check) and adaptive coding and modulation (ACM) for improved bandwidth efficiencies. In addition to providing fast and reliable connections, the router is compliant with the military security requirements. Integral Systems will provide its 117MT maritime antenna system. The 1.14m- stabilised Kuband terminal will deliver Single Channel per Carrier (SCPC) or on-demand networks for supporting video teleconferencing, VPNs, VoIP and large-file data transfer. Integral Systemsʼ Steve Gizinski said: 'Our 117MT Kuband maritime antenna system will ensure a quick and easy transition as the Coast Guard replaces its legacy network.ʼ
MITE February/March 2011
GC Rieber goes for dual C-/Ku-band antenna
Spliethoff offline no more Sixteen vessels operated by Spliethoff Group will soon be able to enjoy Ku-band VSAT connectivity, under a three year supply contract signed with Radio Holland. The service selected by the Netherlands owner (which stewards a fleet of over 100 multipurpose, heavy-lift and ro-ro vessels) benefits from automatic beam switching , allowing hassle-free global roaming as vessels pass from one satellite coverage area to another. Spliethoffʼs IT director Peter
Van de Venne believes the improved connectivity will lead to improved business productivity: ʻNot having to wait several hours for the next email exchange will speed up communication no end. It gives our captains access to online port and cargo data, and will also let our fleet IT support engineers provide remote support by directly taking over PCs onboard.ʼ Radio Holland expects the scope of supply will grow to up to 50 vessels, though did not specify an envisaged timeline.
The Polar Explorer required a flexible solution Marlink is to provide its Sealink VSAT service to GC Rieber Shipping, a global operator of vessels within the subsea, polar expedition and marine seismic segments. Under the new three-year contract, Marlink will deliver and install its dual 9797 C/Ku-band Sealink antennas onboard five existing and five newbuild vessels. The dual frequency antennas will ensure both C-band and Ku-band coverage is available to GC Rieber Shipping, ensuring the company is able to offer customers onboard its vessels increased flexibility and value. Tom Christian Tveita, ICT Consultant, GC Rieber explains: ʻThe availability of a robust satellite
communications solution is critical for us to efficiently relay customer data ashore. The Sealink service ensures that we are able to swiftly switch from C-band to Ku-band to satisfy our customerʼ needs, allowing us to offer the optimal solution for cost, coverage and stability.ʼ Marlink chief executive Tore Morten Olsen adds: ʻWe have a long-standing relationship with GC Rieber Shipping having provided VSAT services to the company for several years, but this is the first formal contract for its fleet. Operating in a wide range of ocean environments requires a flexible and reliable system to maintain continuous communication.ʼ
Blue Marble targets Pacific trade The New Year sees a further new entrant join the highly contended maritime VSAT marketplace. Based in Seattle, Blue Marble Network intends to provide its service ‒ delivering data, file transfers, voice and other IPbased application ‒ out of a wholly-owned network operating centre. It will offer a turnkey solution for the maritime vessel owner/operator, including all above and below decks equipment, VoIP phones, installation and training. The company intends initially to target the Pacific Ocean region, covering the shipping routes and major ports between North America, Asia and Australia. Shortly after inauguration, Blue Marble announced it had been granted permanent ʻEarth Station Onboard ‒ Vesselʼ (ESV) license authority for its new service by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). (ESV license authority allows Blue Marble to operate the service in US territorial waters and on US-flagged vessels worldwide). ʻOur beta-testing is complete and our marketing efforts are underway in the US and in Asia; weʼre open for business,ʼ stated John Smith, VP of sales. ʻWe have leveraged best-in-class vendors and built a whollyowned maritime-specific network, designed to meet the demanding needs of deep-sea shipping customers.ʼ 22
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Hercules gets connected Hercules Offshore has invested in a new maritime broadband service from Hughes Networks Systems to ensure that it continues to complete projects safely, on time and to budget. Hughes together with its Louisiana-based partner Environmental Safety Systems International (ESSI) are fitting out the entire Hercules Offshore fleet of Class 120 to Class 230 liftboats in the Gulf of Mexico. These liftboats ‒ commonly referred to as the ʻworkhorseʼ of the offshore industry ‒ provide a cost-effective and efficient alternative to traditional pipelay/derrick vessels. With their large, open deck areas, they are self-propelling and self-elevating. The fleet provides a work platform for a wide range of services from coiled tubing and wireline operations to well intervention. In addition to basic voice, email and web browsing, Hughesʼ broadband service also extends Hercules Offshoreʼs office wide area network (WAN) to all liftboats by a private backhaul that connects Hercules Offshore headquarters to the Hughes Network Operations Center (NOC) in Maryland. This allows all Hercules Offshore employees on liftboats to access corporate email and other applications as if they were in the onshore office. Hercules Offshore is also instituting ʻfour digit diallingʼ to all liftboats from any office phone through the main phone switch.
SAM Electronics brings KVH satcoms to Germany Hamburg-based SAM Electronics is to distribute KVHʼs TracPhone and TracVision systems in the German market. Equipment covered by the agreement includes customised mini-VSAT broadband airtime packages and hardware lease programs as well as ʻvalue-added network and data management capabilities designed to increase operational efficiencies while reducing costs.ʼ
In the last three years approximately 1000 TracPhone V7 systems have been shipped for use on a wide range of commercial, government and leisure vessels. Having absorbed Virtekʼs CommBox technology, KVH can now provide a range of tools to support operations, including data compression and encryption, crew calling, dedicated email and remote IT access.
Tele-medicine is a reality for new luxury yacht MTN Satellite Communications (MTN) has equipped the newest luxury yacht from the Burger Boat Company shipyards with an impressive communication suite that includes a first-ever onboard medical treatment facility with 24/7 video conferencing capability. Burgerʼs new 43m tri-deck motoryacht Sea Owl, is said to be the first private yacht to be fitted with a high-tech medical facility supplied by Guardian 24/7, a company that has provided medical services for three previous presidents of the United States. Guardianʼs unique Ready Room provides the capability to convert a standard passenger cabin into a fully equipped and operational emergency medical centre, including oxygen, defibrillator, trauma kits and a teleconferencing connection to reach qualified physicians ashore. MTNʼs DirectNet managed satcoms service provides a guaranteed committed information rate (CIR) of 512 Kbps synchronously, which means 1Mbps of guaranteed bandwidth with the ability to burst up to 2Mbps to support the Guardian video conferencing and other voice and data traffic to and from the vessel at sea. ʻWe have the power to save lives with this breakthrough technology,ʼ said Brian OʼMara, vice president of client development, Guardian 24/7. ʻWith MTNʼs global satellite service and our medical equipment and services, we can remotely allow a team of world-class physicians, to manage life-threatening conditions, such as strokes, long before a medical response team could reach the patient.ʼ
Varada Marine selects Ship Equip VSAT for fleet Having announced plans to become ʻone of the largest offshore support vessel companies in the worldʼ, Varada Marine has commenced an extensive new building programme at ABG Shipyard in India. It has now emerged all the vessels will be installed with VSAT from Ship Equip. Deliveries of the Norwegian providerʼs SEVSAT system will commence in step with the new building programme and the first system has already been delivered to the yard. The vessels will have a worldwide con-
nection plan based on the Kuband SEVSAT product with 128Kbps/128Kbps speeds and 4 telephone lines, including a prepaid Crew Calling setup on selected lines. * Responding to business growth in Europe, Ship Equip has opened a new office in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. In addition to commercial operations, the new site will also handle a considerable volume of installation and maintenance work, serving the high number of ships calling by Rotterdam either as a final destination or waypoint.
MITE February/March 2011
The Stolt Sagaland approaches an inland passage. In the future it might be switching data over to a 4G network
Maritime broadband without satellites While most debates on contemporary maritime communications gravitate to bleeding edge developments in the world of satcoms, there are other ways for ships to keep in contact electronically with shore, including the humble radio and â€“ going forward â€“ a greater role for cellular mobile networks. Satellite is by and far the most well-known method for communication between vessel and shore. The last decade has seen tremendous advancements in the services available to ships plying the high-seas. Inmarsat set a new benchmark with the introduction of its 432kbps FleetBroadband offering and Ku-band VSAT systems delivering up to 4Mbps are now greeted with a knowing nod, rather than gasps of astonishment. But regular readers of MITE will be only too aware of the limitations of these technologies. Connections costs may have fallen but continue to be a cause of consternation. Moreover, as explained elsewhere in this issue, reliability is an outstanding issue particularly when it comes to poorly or incorrectly 24
MITE February/March 2011
While satellite is regarded the de facto way of bringing high-speed network connectivity and communications to ships, it is not the only technology out there. VHF is seeing a renaissance and mobile 4G is on the horizon
installed VSAT systems. Against this backdrop, it is easy to understand how conventional VHF radio has been overshadowed by talk of megabits and downlinks. But, it is not completely forgotten. On the contrary, a handful of companies are attempting to breathe a new lease of life to this fundamental technology by repurposing it for the Internet age. This is possible in part because as more ships switch to satcoms, the VHF airwaves are much less crowded than they once were.
Sending data over VHF is complementary to existing satellite communications ... it is sufficient for most email traffic Christian Mayer, SwissCom
Swisscom is one such company. It has introduced a data service that operates on VHF frequencies, which can be used to complement satcoms services. New modulation methods enable transmission speeds on standard maritime radio channels comparable to satcoms a decade ago. The company has also built its own least cost router (called Ship Com Server) to divert data traffic to its radio system whenever it is more cost effective than satcoms. Already onboard One of the biggest advantages of using a radio-based system in addition to existing communications infrastructure, apart from the extra redundancy, is that SOLAS vessels already have most of the necessary hardware onboard (in order to meet GMDSS requirements). This means the system can be deployed with very little capital expenditure. Swisscom product manager Christian Mayer says the initial outlay for the Ship Com Server will quickly pay for itself thanks to reduced airtime costs in transmitting data. The new modulation methods enable transmission rates of
up to 5200bps to be sent on normal high frequency channels. SwissCom states that next generation Pactor modems currently under development will raise this to 9600bps, equivalent to many first generation satcoms systems. ‘Sending data over VHF is complementary to existing satellite communications, not a fullfledged replacement,’ admits Mayer. ‘But it is more than adequate for most email. The system is efficient for messages up to 125Kb in size, so suitable for simple text documents or spreadsheets and a cover note.’ SwissCom has found that roughly 70-80% of email messages fall below this threshold. For attachments exceeding 125Kb, satcoms is probably more efficient. The Ship Com Server least cost router automatically determines the most cost-effective way of routeing data back to shore. If VHF is unavailable and the vessel is not far from port, it may well be the case that terrestrial mobile GSM or 3G networks are still within range. Notably, when installed on tankers, the router will select these terrestrial networks (or satcoms service) when loading/unloading is underway. Mayer believes the service’s key attraction is its low, fixed monthly costs: ‘The service is essentially unmetered. It can be used for email correspondence, email to SMS text, downloading weather data, periodically transmitting a vessels position and for other online monitoring service.’ To ensure coverage is there when it is needed, Swisscom operates its own Bernradio with 10 channels on air and has established a global network through agreements with 11 other coastal radio stations located in various regions. Meanwhile, speaking at the Royal Institute of Navigation’s annual conference in November, Dr Andy Norris argued that the next generation of terrestrial mobile technologies could play an important role in a maritime context. In
fortably offer enough coverage for this zone.
his view, 4G has the potential to replace VHF, AIS, NavTex and possibly even Inmarsat C. Reaching remote areas ‘We all know that access to broadband is essential in these times. Some countries are evening starting to view it as a human right,’ says Norris. ‘But the reality is that many remote – and even some not so remote – geographical areas are unlikely to ever have wired broadband. As far as the telcos or ISPs are concerned, the costs of laying cables do not justify the commercial return. At the same time, mobile connectivity is becoming increasingly widespread – and faster. Moreover, the cost of constructing a mobile mast that serves a whole community is considerably less than pushing cables to each individual building.’ For this reason, he believes that resilient 4G networks are likely to be rolled out sooner rather than later. Why is this important for maritime? Because 4G – a loose term that encompasses a bundle of 4th generation transmission protocols – uses spectrum more efficiently (and are more forgiving of environmental conditions). As a result, masts located on shorelines will be able to receive signals from almost 100km out at sea. Under GMDSS waters are classified into four ‘sea areas’ – A1 to A4 – which describe the safety communications infrastructure that must be available. Sea area A1 requires radiotelephone coverage of at least one VHF coast station in which continuous digital selective calling (Ch.70/156.525 MHz) alerting and radiotelephony services are available. Such an area could extend typically 30-40 nautical miles (55-75km) from the coas station. In Norris’s view, 4G would com-
An operating desk at Bernradio, where VHF data traffic is also processed
One-to-many broadcasting One factor that to date has held back the adoption of mobile technologies in the maritime sphere is that they are primarily intended for ‘one-to-one’ communications. However 4G overcomes this shortcoming. Among the various 4G standards, LTE – or Long Term Evolution – features a one-to-many broadcast facility, which would make it ideal for many safety-related maritime applications, for example Navtex. If 4G were to take off, Norris hypothesises, ships may not need to radiate VHF at all. But there are certain questions that will need answers before this can happen, particularly with respect to implementation. In the most likely scenario, 4G antenna basestations would be rolled out on a commercial basis by the major mobile telcos in a particular country. However, left to market forces alone, there is no guarantee of sufficient coverage provision along coastlines. To avoid missing this opportunity, Norris suggests that national regulators should play a role by defining minimum operating and/or performance standards that specify coastal coverage. Another possibility would be to re-purpose current VHF masts and other related infrastructure. While some might consider reliance on mobile telephony – particularly for maritime safety – as a frightening prospect, it is probable there were similar fears when radio first arrived and quickly superseded the old code of signals. The fact that 4G is intended as a mainstream technology and as such is not restricted by the small size of the maritime market very much goes in its favour. But, despite Dr Norris’ evident enthusiasm, the necessary infrastructure is not going appear overnight – indeed fragmented roll-out between countries and even within the same country is likely to be one of the key stumbling blocks. MITE February/March 2011
PU Li re VS th
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ECDIS capabilities and limitations As a historical comparison the onset of ECDIS could be said to be as significant as putting steam powered engines and propellers on sailing ships. It is therefore not surprising that the rapid advance of this new technology means there are large numbers of ships navigating with paper charts and ECDIS, or in historical parlance, navigating with sails and engines. This will no doubt continue until adequate training, equipment efficiencies and trust in ECDIS equipment warrants the removal of â€˜sailsâ€™. For those that distrust these systems, much of the distrust can be put down to the lack of proper training that would give the operator the ability and confidence to use the equipment efficiently and effectively. The need for training is justified by the large numbers of ECDIS related incidents at sea. We all read about these incidents and with the benefit of hindsight pass judgement, but this could be you joining a ship with ECDIS, without adequate training. Ask yourself whether you would you be able to utilise the system safely and effectively? Are you willing to take the risk of not conducting adequate training? One thing is certain, when used by properly trained operators ECDIS provides enormous benefit for the mariner over existing paper charts. Such benefits include: Increase in spatial awareness and efficiency: This ultimately means the operator has more time to look out of the window. Fusion of nav-aid information: Pools information feeds 26
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The comfort blanket of the much loved and respected paper chart is fast disappearing and being replaced by a digital equivalent. Some embrace this new technology and others fear it, writes Malcolm Instone*
Fig 1: Available charts can be shown as an overlay
Fig 2: Objects within a chart cell can be interrogated
to assist in compiling your picture (eg, Radar Image Overlay (RIO), AIS and NAVTEX). Increased safety in dangerous conditions: If you can prove the ECDIS derived position correct you can judge yourself to the nearest point of danger very accurately. Fast, accurate passage planning and re-planning Automated, fast, accurate chart updates It is my opinion that the concept of ECDIS systems can be likened to that of radar sets. Radar sets are subtly different in the way they look and the software they use, but on the whole they all contain much the same functionality. The challenge is to know where to find that functionality on the system you are using. The existence of multiple systems in fleets makes this challenge greater, although for those that are waiting for the day all ECDIS menus look the same do not get too excited. One only needs to look at radar which has been around for decades to see that it is highly unlikely. It is therefore incumbent on the purchaser to choose their ECDIS system with care so they have the functionality to meet the task, and the minimum performance standards laid down in IMO A.817(19). Furthermore, it is essential that adequate training is available so the operator is able to get the most out of their ECDIS and understand both capabilities and limitations of the equipment. Playing around with an ECDIS for a couple of hours is not
enough to warrant navigating with it. There is no substitute for proper training. ECDIS has many advantages over paper charts, but what does it offer the operator in terms of functionality and time saving during the route planning process (appraisal, planning, execution and monitoring), and what are the shortfalls of using such systems for this purpose? 1. Appraisal ‒ Information gathering Fig 3: Some ECDIS systems can display tidal information
a. Data Firstly, without data an ECDIS system is useless. It is the quality of data within it that is the basis for navigational safety. It may therefore be prudent for the would-be ECDIS purchaser to choose a quality, reliable data product first before purchasing an ECDIS that can utilise it, rather than the other way round. There are two different types of data product available for use in ECDIS: raster and vector charts. Raster charts are high quality scans of paper charts whereas vector charts are databases that use ‘objects’ in the database to create a customised display. There are official variations of each data type, called Raster Navigational Charts (RNC) and Electronic Navigation Charts (ENC). Both terms sound nonspecific but are in fact very specific: RNCs by definition are official charts as their official status is based on the premise that they must be constructed in accordance with IHO publication S-61 ie, standardised and issued by a government authorised hydrographic office. ENCs by definition are official vector charts as their official status is based on the premise that they must be constructed in accordance with IHO publication S-57 ie, standardised and issued by a government authorised hydrographic office. With the existence of private
Fig 4a & 4b: Standard and custom displays
data produced by companies independent of hydrographic offices it is prudent to tread with caution in order to ensure that your data product is official. ECDIS systems can utilise a number of different products of both RNC and ENC format to suit the mariner’s needs. The system is also capable of giving visibility of holdings so that you can see which charts are available within your system folio. This can be displayed as a list of available charts or as an overlay similar to that shown in a chart catalogue (see Fig 1). However, the shortfall of the system with regards to data is that ENC coverage of the world is incomplete. Therefore, if your route is not entirely covered by ENCs, then in accordance with IMO Circular 207 the mariner must utilise an appropriate combination of ENCs, RNCs and paper charts to execute the route. Thus, not only does it require careful planning with regard to data use, but also great expense for the mariner. Here are some considerations when using data: 1. What data products can your ECDIS utilise (SENC data such as TADS?) 2. Do you have sufficient coverage of ENCs for your route? 3. If you do not have sufficient coverage of ENCs, do you have sufficient RNCs? 4. If using RNCs you are in RCDS mode and you will require an ‘appropriate’ folio of paper charts in accordance with IMO Circular 207 (www.ecdisregs.com) 5. What is your Flag State definition of ‘appropriate’ folio of paper charts? (www.ecdisregs.com) 6. The operator must ensure the system prioritises the correct chart data type (ENC RNC). Know how your system prioritises data. b. Cell and object interrogation The obvious advantage when using ENCs is the ability to interrogate it to view information on the cell and objects within the cell (see Fig 2). Effectively, it MITE February/March 2011
provides access to an encyclopaedia of information that the operator can access. In future this may include the integration of a huge number of information sources such as Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals (ALLFS), for example in order that all relevant information is available at the operator’s fingertips. However, before you get excited at the prospect, there is a lot of work required before this vision is achieved. Moreover, access to this information on ECDIS systems is not yet as user friendly as it could be. For example, it is not always possible to get a sufficient explanation of an object, particularly when interrogating ECDIS Chart1 and it can take a long time to find the information required. Many systems do not prioritise the interrogated object at the top of the list of those available in the cell and as such it can take time to cycle through the list before you find what you are looking for. It should be noted that although RNCs are scans of paper charts, when interrogated they also provide limited information about the chart such as Title, Scale, Projection and Updates, but objects within it cannot be interrogated.
Checklist for effective ECDIS route planning: Screen into ʻlargeʼ or ʻplanningʼ screen format. Orientate the chart to show the beginning and end of the route to get a ʻbig handfulʼ feel for the route. Create a blank canvas by hiding all old routes, constructs etc. Begin with waypoint plotting in the general area of the start and end of the route. Select either Rhumb Line or Great Circle route etc. Zoom in to a more appropriate scale to modify the start and finish waypoints and ʻmassageʼ waypoints to account for TSS etc. Ensure that you have adequate XTD for the various legs of your route to take into account the nature of the environment and expected possible deviations, lateral separation from the route and collision avoidance. Check Zones of Confidence (ZOC) or Source Data Diagrams and amend the route or highlight as necessary. Set Safety Depth and Safety Contour values. Conduct a system check of the route at an appropriate XTD to allow for deviations, collision avoidance etc. Once all alarms have been checked and verified, check the route in its entirety on 1:1 scale by manually scrolling along it. Add relevant additional information and manual corrections. Double check Distance / ETD / ETA and tidal constraints. Protect the route as necessary and save a backup.
c. Tidal and port databases Some systems offer additional databases such as tidal curves (Fig 3) and prediction data to aid in calculating HW, LW, tidal heights and predicted TS. However, before committing to such databases, it is worth considering where the data is from, whether it is official data and if or how it can be updated. Not all Flag States approve data provided by ECDIS manufacturers, with some stating that only Admiralty Total Tide (ATT) is acceptable (which fortunately most systems are able to integrate). The environmental data in some systems may be official, in that it has been purchased from official sources, but it does not necessarily state exactly where it is from, so care is needed. Others 28
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If updates are installed prior to sailing or during the execution of the route, ensure that the route is checked again, as updates may affect it.
are able to provide their own database of worldwide ports and port information to aid the mariner whilst others still can be integrated with existing publications such as Lloyd’s Fairplay. If utilising databases provided by the manufacturer it is worth considering how the database is updated and whether information can be updated by the user as changes occur. d. Safety contour and safety depth The ability of an ECDIS system to highlight a given safety contour based on a set safety depth is one of the great advantages of the system. ECDIS uses an operator configured safety depth to display a safety contour that differentiates safe water from that which is unsafe. However, the lack of contour data currently available within ENCs means the operator is not yet able to fully harmonise the safety contour with the safety depth. 2. Planning ‒ Route creation and checking a. Route planning Route creation on an ECDIS can be fiddly and frustrating to start with, but when practised makes the process much quicker. For example, if you were constructing a Great Circle route on paper charts it would be fair to say that this would require knowledge, skill and a significant amount of time. However, constructing a Great Circle route on ECDIS takes seconds as waypoints are placed at the click of a button. Moreover, there is no need to rub out the past track and re-plan or transfer waypoints from one scale of chart to another as waypoints are placed on all available charts for its position. Once the route is complete you are presented with all the information relevant to the route. Enter your ETD and it will calculate your arrival time based on planned speed or enter your ETA and it will calculate when you need to depart. If you enter your MITE October/November 2010
ETD and ETA the system can calculate the necessary speed required to meet the ETA i.e. SOA. Some systems can calculate the effect of tide on your route timings and even calculate under keel clearance based upon an entered draught. Once the plan is derived it can be saved and used again and again or even copied to disc and shared among a fleet of ships. However, the route planning function varies between systems with some being easier to use than others. Furthermore, some systems lack functionality with regard to producing Great Circle routes. For example, not all are able to split the curved line into individual Rhumb Lines, whereas other provide detailed options such as limiting latitudes, number of segments, length of segment etc. It should also be noted that not all systems can calculate SOA based upon an entered ETD and ETA. b. Route checking ECDIS systems have the ability to check the planned route for dangers. However, be careful as the check only looks within the Cross Track Distance (XTD) or corridor of the route, so ensure that it is correctly configured to cover the required area. The wider the XTD the more alarms will be generated, although this is not a reason to reduce it below what is required. The check looks for set parameters which could be system defined as well as operator defined, depending on the system. If your system offers the ability to configure the search beyond set parameters, ensure that what you want the system to search for is selected. Also, when checking the route it is important to ensure that the correct display setting is selected (see Figs 4a & 4b). In Fig 4a, the system is in the standard display mode and the route check is highlighting a danger, although it is not shown. In Fig 4b, the display has been set to custom mode and Isolated Dangers have been selected for display. The highlighted symbol – non-
highly recommended. Once the route has been checked, additional information can be added. The system can even be configured to alert the operator of such notices. Considerations at this stage are how best to display the information so that it can be clearly seen by the operator. Note that the font size is constrained on many systems and symbology is also limited. Personally, I used to favour a ‘cloud and arrow’ approach on paper charts to draw attention to supplementary information, but this is not necessarily available as a symbol in ECDIS. You must therefore make use of whatever is available and what works for you. Perhaps technology will allow the use of light pens to add such information in future? 3. Execution and monitoring
dangerous wreck – is now displayed Another frustration when using ECDIS systems to check a route is that it may highlight the same danger on multiple occasions without recourse for the operator to clear the specific danger in one action. When conducting a route check, the system will only check ENCs and not RNCs, unless there are manual alarmable constructs within the XTD. The inability of most systems to highlight gaps in ENC coverage for a route therefore necessitates that a manual check on the best scale charts be conducted for the entire route. Note that this can be time consuming but comes
Fig 5a, b & 5c: Base, standard and ʻall otherʼ display modes
a. Configuration It is essential that the system is set up correctly prior to executing the route or important information will not be displayed. This relates to settings for display, data for the vessel itself and, on systems that allow it, the configuration of alarms. For display purposes, the amount of information must be configured prior to executing the route and for this purpose threee types of display must be available for use with ENCs; S52 Base, Standard and All Other. The ‘Base’ display (Fig 5a) provides a minimal amount of information and represents data that cannot be removed from the display. As such, the Base display does not provide enough information for safe navigation. The ‘Standard’ display (Fig 5b) incorporates the Base display plus additional features to provide a more appropriate display for safe navigation (but does not include soundings). The ‘All Other’ display (Fig 5c) presents all layers of data, however I would suggest that this provides too much information for effective navigation. This is because the volume of data shown clutters the display makMITE February/March 2011
ing it difficult to see safety critical information. Therefore, most manufacturers provide an extra display category, normally called ‘Custom’ that allows the operator to configure their display to incorporate information between Base and All Other. Some systems also allow the saving of such displays so that the operator can customise displays for all environments such as Pilotage, Coastal, Open Ocean, Anchoring etc., selecting them as and when required. However, due to the sheer volume of settings and configuration that is possible, it is recommended that check-off cards be produced to cover all environments. Remember, too much information is as dangerous as too little. b. SCAMIN The system auto-filter means that unless you are navigating on the best scale chart, you will not see all the information available for display. Therefore, when zooming out the system will automatically deselect certain features from display such as Soundings, Lights and Topographical detail. The only way to ensure that your display is not affected by SCAMIN is to always ensure you are navigating on the best scale chart. It is therefore essential that the operator knows how to select the best scale chart on their system. c. Fixing The ECDIS system tirelessly fixes and records ship position based upon the primary fixing system (GPS or DGPS), whilst searching the track ahead for risky or even dangerous conditions such as Traffic Separations Schemes, charted wrecks and shoal patches. The system is also capable of loading charts automatically as you execute your passage, based upon ship position. Additionally, ECDIS also offers high levels of confidence by fusing different fixing modes (GPS/Visual/RIO) into one display. Manual fixing functionality is also provided, although some systems provide 30
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more functionality in this regard than others. d. Precise navigation If the positional information is accurate, the system can be used to give valuable information about a ship’s position when turning in confined conditions. Some manufacturers have developed precise navigation tools such as the Docking Mode function that allows detailed information on the forces at work on the vessel to be viewed in a separate panel. Furthermore, functions such as the Predictor can also be used to predict the future position of the ship based upon real-time influences on the vessel such as wind, tidal stream, acceleration and deceleration and hydro-dynamic data (see Fig 6). When used correctly, both are excellent tools to reassure the operator of what is being seen out of the window: ‘This looks a bit tight, we need to put more wheel on – ECDIS concurs...’ 4. Chart installation and updating The days of updating and correcting charts in the charthouse are numbered, but do not ditch those tracings just yet. In my experience the one component of ECDIS that is guaranteed to ruin your day is the inability to update your system or install charts. Remember, it takes time and system knowledge to complete
Fig 6: Predictor mode can show future positions, taking into account the physical forces acting on the ship
installation and updating effectively. It is worthwhile timing how long it takes your system to conduct a small and large update so that you are aware of the timescales involved. Remember also that after updating the system you will need to check your route again to check for new dangers. Ensure that you are getting your weekly permit updates and that they are updated prior to any charts. Furthermore, be extremely careful when using USB sticks and CDs to transfer information between systems and computers as ECDIS systems lack virus protection. It is recommended therefore that the transfer of information between systems only occurs within the LAN and that any USBs or CDs are virus checked prior to being used. It is also prudent to back-up your system regularly. This undoubtedly needs to be carefully controlled in ship’s procedures. If you are considering linking your ECDIS to the Internet for chart updating purposes, consider the following: 1. Do you need to? Do you have an adequate feed of information from nav-aids such as NAVTEX and a system in place to plot it on the ECDIS? If so, do you require such a connection? 2. How effective is the antivirus firewall? If operating ECDIS and a virus prevents the ship from sailing (or worst case causes an accident) the decision to link to the Internet will soon be questioned. 3. Will the system cease safety monitoring for the period it is updating? 4. What is the cost of updating via Internet connection? 5. Will the system automatically highlight new updates so the operator can view their relevance relative to the planned route? Legal implications Legally, in order to navigate
using ECDIS as the primary means of navigation, that is to say ‘go paperless’, then the following must be achieved (flag state dependent): 1. Official ENC coverage for the entire route 2. Equipment must be in accordance with IMO Performance Standards (Resolution A817(19)). If it is not, then the equipment is an ECS and is not legally compliant. 3. Training must be adequate. At present that means conducting a Flag State approved 5-day IMO 1.27 ECDIS course, and a Type Specific course on the equipment to be used at sea. The use of CBT alone is not sufficient. Always consult your Flag State for clarification and be aware of Legal anomalies such as flags that do not recognise RCDS mode, or flags that require a risk assessment for example.
Summary ECDIS systems are designed and built by engineers. This is not a derogatory statement, but it is my opinion that more current mariner knowledge is required in order to provide the mariner with a better, more user-friendly product. The systems contain far more functionality than is needed and are not yet as ergonomic and user-friendly as they could be. Moreover, inadequate training is responsible for a large number of collisions and groundings as operators are overreliant on ECDIS and simply do not understand the shortfalls of such systems. However, ECDIS systems are a revolution and do go a long way in making navigation safer and easier, but only if: The operator uses the system correctly The operator configures the system correctly The operator understands the capabilities and limitations of
the system in use The operator is not over-reliant on GPS or on the ECDIS system The operator utilises spare capacity by looking out the window and assessing the integrity of navigation aids and equipment The operator manages and supervises the system adequately Like it or not, ECDIS is coming and for most deck officers it is a case of embrace it or risk becoming irrelevant on the bridge of a ship. For both types of mariner I recommend confronting the problem head on by conducting approved training and learning as much as possible about these systems. It is cringe worthy but true train hard, navigate easy! * Malcolm Instone is Director of Operations & Standards at ECDIS Ltd. Screenshots courtesy of Transas and Kelvin Hughes
Kelvin Hughes’ ECDISPLUS provides the only complete solution that makes the transition from paper to digital navigation easy. Kelvin Hughes supplies, installs and maintains ECDIS equipment and offers all the other vital data and services central to getting the most out of your ECDIS.
With ECDISPLUS you can expect the latest ECDIS equipment, cost effective supply and management of your charts with the ﬂexibility to choose providers, a real-time update service and IMO-approved ECDIS training for your navigators, all designed to ensure that you have the complete solution, wherever you are. And all this comes with worldwide installation and support.
All your ﬂeet needs. All in one place.
MITE February/March 2011
Using ECDISplus shipowners can be sure that their chart data is up-to-date and that they are operating safely
Setting a course for ECDIS migration In the run up to mandatory ECDIS, Kelvin Hughes thinks it has identified two factors inhibiting early adoption. The first is cost – always a consideration. But the second factor, according to KH, is fear. Fear of technical complexity and fear of transitional training. To address this perceived ‘fear’, the company has created a package of services, known as ECDISplus, which it claims will solve the problems typically encountered when switching from paper to electronic charts. ECDISplus is intended as ‘turn-key’ ECDIS solution. It includes hardware supply and installation, initial chart data supply, licence management, chart updates (via ChartCo) and an IMO approved training package, backed up with support from Kelvin Hughes’ global service network. What is actually delivered depends on individual shipowner requirements and can range from the supply of ECDIS hardware through to a complete package. Paper charts and digital licences can also be managed and replenished under the Outfit Management Service (OMS). Designed with flexibility in mind, ECDISplus meets the requirements both for full paperless operation and for mixed ECDIS/paper chart operation (with paper serving as a back-up). 32
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Kelvin Hughes believes fear of the unknown is holding back ECDIS adoption and has come up with a turn-key package to ease migration
Kelvin Hughes’ new Outfit Management Service (OMS) combines the initial supply of data with the on-going monitoring of vessel movements and changes to ENC coverage. Using ECDISplus and OMS, shipowners can be sure that their chart data is up-to-date and that they are operating safely. ECDISplus enables customers to take advantage of IMOapproved training courses available worldwide with an emphasis on practical, hands-on training and flexible enough to fit training around individual crew schedules. Kelvin Hughes chief executive Russell Gould said: ‘Through ECDISplus, we can provide every component needed to make ECDIS easy and compliant and help owners make the journey from paper to electronic navigation. Meanwhile, Kelvin Hughes’ chart provider subsidiary ChartCo has developed a new application – PassageManager (PM) – intended to streamline the process of planning and executing routes.
As the latest addition to ChartCo’s oceanMaster suite of software, PM gives the mariner the means to organise, purchase and update paper and electronic charts in real time. It optimises voyage planning and reduces unnecessary delay and cost. PassageManager lets mariners quickly plot a route and identify the most appropriate charts (and other data products) needed to navigate the passage safely and with compliance. It allows new products to be ordered so the most cost-effective mix of paper and electronic charts and publications are available and provide better decision making tools during voyage planning and execution. The application can utilise ChartCo’s weather and tide data products, and port calls and docking scenarios can be planned with information drawn from the IHS Fairplay ports database, which contains maps and plans corresponding to 10 000 ports and terminals. A complementary newswire service informs users of operational issues, thus minimising costly delays. Product manager Rory Davis says: ‘We worked closely with mariners during the development and trials and the reaction has been very positive. We are confident that PassageManager will set new standards for safe navigation, efficient planning and fleet management.’
Role-based apps accelerate refit The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) has recently deployed new project management software on their two research ships, the James Clark Ross and the Ernest Shackleton, to manage the planning and implementation of upcoming vessel refits. BAS commissioned UK-based Marine Software Ltd to produce master specifications for each vessel, based on the last five years annual refits and dry dockings, which was then fed into its Marine Project Manager (MPJ) software. Because the data was fully in place, the system could be activated immediately and in time for assisting this year’s annual refits. A training programme was also implemented by Marine Software at the BAS head office in Cambridge. This ensured that vessel crew and office-based technical staff alike had sufficient working knowledge on gaining the maximum benefit from the new software. Each vessel has been installed with two separate versions of the MPJ: a superintendent’s version and a slimmed down ‘vessel’ version. The superintendent MPJ, as its name suggests, is for senior officers, who can use it to compile the annual refit specification and, later on, administer the system when the ship enters the shipyard for refit. The vessel MPJ allows any crew member to create any type of refit job, categorised as a defect, modification, or ‘nice to have’. These jobs are subsequently brought to the attention of the superintendent, who can approve or reject them for the refit specification. BAS’ marine technical department in Cambridge will import
Preparing for a refit project is an arduous time-consuming task, but role-based software can help reduce the paperwork and streamline the process
the completed refit specification from each ship to send out specifications to various shipyards and other sub-contractors for tendering, either as a printed copy or electronically. In addition, a free ‘contractor’ version of MPJ is available which allows hopeful contractors to import the issued projects and complete and return the quote electronically.
Once the chosen shipyard and sub-contractors tenders have been evaluated and accepted (or rejected), the final specification is transferred back to the vessel, so that the refit can be monitored when work is underway. BAS currently has a staff of over 450 and operates five research stations, two royal research ships and five aircraft in and around Antarctica.
Spirits brought under control MAINTENANCE PLANNING and scheduling on P&O Ferriesʼ latest newbuild Spirit of Britain, which recently entered service on the DoverCalais route, will be accomplished with an integrated package from Marine Software Ltd. This contract covered planned maintenance, stock control, procurement and safety management requirements between vessel and central office systems. In addition, P&O Ferries ordered a barcode system for spare part inventory checks and stock replenishment. While under construction at STX Europeʼs Rauma Shipyard, Marine Software worked on building up a fully configured database covering all main machinery, safety equipment and Lloyds Register class items. A final commissioning visit then took place in Dover during berthing trials, before handover to the P&O team. Since P&O Ferriesʼ CODA finance system already accepts proceeds from Marine Softwareʼs procurement system, all Spirit of Britain accruals will be easily integrated through the existing finance interface. Sister vessel Spirit of France will feature the same suite of software, when it too enters into service this autumn. Marine Software now enters its fifth year of supplying fleet software solutions for P&O Ferries, after first being awarded an 18-vessel contract back in 2005.
Spirit of Britain: Barcode readers will be used for checking inventory
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SIS-tematic upgrade for Van Oord
Dutch dredging and marine contractor Van Oord is outfitting its fleet of nearly 100 vessels with ship maintenance management software from Star Information Systems (SIS). The Norwegian maritime software developer’s product handles numerous aspects of vessel technical management from maintenance planning and purchasing to logistics and asset management. By allowing operators to prepare and plan the upkeep of their vessels more efficiently, the system can help lower the risk of emergency parts purchases, together with the accompanying high premiums and logistical challenges these entail. According to SIS chief executive Per Anders Koien, the contract is among the biggest ever awarded in the fleet management software industry, though he was unwilling to divulge any specific figures. He did indicate, however, the deal with Van Oord provides the company a considerable war-chest for future in34
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Van Oordʼs existing fleet management system had been in place over a decade and as might be expected was showing its age. It was time to find a replacement
vestment. ‘The scope of the project represents a great opportunity for us to develop new services and software enhancements,’ he adds. Legacy management Van Oord’s legacy fleet management system had been in place over 10 years and as might be expected was showing its age. Moreover, it was not a maritime specific product. Consequently, the Dutch operator had over the years spent considerable sums customising it to do something which it wasn’t intended – ie, watch over a fleet of ships. Henk Jan van Dijk, project manager at Van Oord, explains the process of selecting a new
technical management system started back in 2008. ‘Following a tender, we ran a pilot programme on two vessels with SIS, and got a lot of positive feedback from our onboard personnel. In addition to meeting our technical requirements, we found that SIS software was user-friendly and easier to upgrade than competing systems, which is critical for a project of this scale.’ Ruud Lendfers, Van Oord’s IT project manager responsible for the implementation, added: ‘SIS software has good backwards compatibility, which makes it easier to integrate with some of our existing systems.’ Size matters SIS’ Martin Karlstad says that the size of Van Oord’s fleet called for a different approach to the implementation process. ‘It is the largest IT project ever to be undertaken by Van Oord. We will establish an on-site team of four senior personnel for the first four vessels, then work to train their implementation teams so they can complete the roll-out for the
SIS takes control of its destiny, finally ensuring data cleanliness and end-user training.
rest of their fleet.’ Month-on/month-off crew rotas mean it can be difficult to ensure end-users get sufficient training. For this reason, a major part of SIS’ work will involve bringing Van Oord’s training personnel up to speed so they can impart this knowledge to crew when they become available. In addition to the software and standard service package, SIS will also provide Van Oord with process mapping, help establish interfaces between legacy and operational systems, and develop conversion tools to facilitate a smooth transition of data from old to new systems. Not so long ago migrating data from one management system to another would have been an arduous and time-consuming task. The emergence and increasing prevalence of common (typically XML-based) formats for data exchange mean the process has become much more straightforward. Koien states: ‘Data transfer no longer slows down the implementation process. The big issues today are
Co-operative future Van Oord has also contracted SIS to develop additional functionalities, which will be integrated into SIS software and eventually made available to other customers in the future. ‘While developed in cooperation with Van Oord, these are not intended as bespoke solutions,’ Karlstad notes. ‘These new features will become a part of our standard software package, so Van Oord and our other customers will have access to improved functionalities, upgrades and support over time.’ As with many software products, SIS’ maintenance manager is very much a work-in-progress. Existing functions are continually tweaked and refined – in response customer feedback – to better match their use in the field. Periodically, altogether new features are introduced, again driven by end-user needs. Koien told MITE that the next periodic upgrade is scheduled for later this year, with a completely revamped version envisaged for release in 2013. It will support mobile inventory (ie, tracking the maintenance of equipment that is transferred between vessels), feature a crew payroll facility and have a completely revamped purchasing system. ‘Our e-procurement module – SISCommerce – was originally developed in 2001. Though it has grown more sophisticated over the passing years, it is still based on old code. So we have decided to re-write it from the ground up’, says Koien. Simpler transactions SISCommerce is an Internetbased system that can operate in parallel with the shipping company’s in house purchasing system. Suppliers can return quotes and order confirmations through a software-generated MTML encoded message or by using the SISCommerce website. In either case, suppliers’ prices, terms and conditions are fed directly and
A LONG-running and complex legal wrangle over a minority shareholding in Star Information Systems (SIS) by competitor BASS has finally been resolved. After a lawsuit successfully won by SIS, shares held by its com Koien: We have petitor have been bought by origicontinued to nal SIS shareholders and their operate in very various companies. trying circumstances ʻWe are delighted with the legal outcome and now have full control over our own destiny,ʼ declares SIS chief executive Per Anders Koien. ʻWe have continued to operate in very trying circumstances, because the BASS shareholding constituted a direct conflict of interests. However, we have never stopped in our constant drive to fine-tune existing product lines and develop new ones. Now we are in a position to advance to the next stage of our development without further interference.ʼ ʻIn spite of the BASS shareholding which has been a hindrance to our corporate activities recently,ʼ the SIS chief executive continues, ʻwe have developed a firstclass suite of software products targeting both the maritime and oil rig management sectors, both on and offshore and on and offline. The divestment of the BASS shareholding is a key watershed for us and we look forward to announcing several important new contracts in the coming weeks.ʼ The anomalous situation arose as a result of Barber Internationalʼs shareholding in SIS, originally established in 1999. Barberʼs shares in SIS were subsequently transferred to its IT subsidiary, BASS, in the hope that the two companies could work together to mutual benefit. But competition between the software providers resulted in termination of the co-operation agreement in 2003. The dispute was further complicated in 2005 when Barber divested itself of its IT subsidiary which was bought out by BASS management. The sale included the Barber-held shares in SIS. In a later twist, the sale took place just a day after a court settlement between the two software companies following a breach of intellectual property rights by BASS.
securely into the buyer’s purchasing system. Marine Trading Mark-up Language (MTML) is an XMLbased message format for encoding marine trading transactions. It was devised to address specific issues unique to the maritime industry and to help overcome early reluctance MITE February/March 2011
from shipowners to adopting ecommerce for fear of being locked in to a single software vendor’s product. This was around the time of the dot.com boom, when there were countless start-up and venture companies that were promising the earth but had little in the way to demonstrate those claims. Electronic commerce was still a relatively new phenomenon – especially in the b2b sector – so shipowners were rightfully sceptical. Many of these ventures didn’t survive beyond the subsequent dot.com crash. ‘Over the last five years the situation has stabilised. Shipowners are gradually setting up electronic purchasing systems, while most suppliers are responding via dedicated web interfaces,’ observes Koien. Development of MTML has come to a halt. ‘It was supposed
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Native tongues may result in confusion IN THE early days of computing, software typically only offered an English language interface. More recently, however, following the growth of the Internet, developers have cottoned on to internationalising their products in order that they reach the widest possible audience. It is not unusual nowadays for users to be offered a choice of 20-plus languages. But going this extra mile in user-friendliness and offering an interface in the userʼs native tongue can be counterproductive, as SIS chief executive Per Anders Koien explains: ʻIt can tempt crew into entering data in their own language. Unfortunately, this can result in confusion further down the line. Puzzled shore-based staff may have to seek clarification. It will also impact on overall information consistency.ʼ For this reason, ship operators would be wise to give careful thought to what extent they offer local language interfaces, bearing in mind why all air-traffic control communication is carried out in English.
to be the language both buyers and suppliers could use to exchange transaction data between their in-house computer systems. Unfortunately, however, it never really took off and today it is a dead language. It has been superseded by human-friendly web interfaces, such as our SISCommerce portal,’ says Koien. Regardless of implementation, maritime e-commerce systems do away with the mishmash of faxes and emails that would often entail when requesting quotes and placing purchase orders, and which would be difficult to audit if something goes wrong. Crucially, SISCommerce is an open system that does not require new suppliers to jump through hoops to attain membership status. SIS states that currently more than 10 000 suppliers use SISCommerce to exchange quote and purchase orders.
MITE October/November 2010
Published on Feb 7, 2011
The February/March 2011 issue of Maritime IT & Electronics magazine includes features on the challenges of streaming video to passengers; th...