Interview: Navigating the Ever Bigger Ships into the Future

As the ships of the global fleet get bigger the tougher it gets to navigate these giants, especially if you are squeezing through a narrow shipping canal. A number of things can go wrong and hence, it is important to have the right tools for assessing the situation and making the right decisions. One of the key factors in that process is the available navigation equipment that helps the ships steer away from potential dangers and arrive safely to their destinations.

With that in mind, World Maritime News spoke with a representative of Raytheon Anschütz, a supplier of integrated navigation/bridge systems and navigation equipment, Mr Martin Richter, the company’s Marketing Manager to find out more about navigation challenges and safety of ships.

WMN: Seeing that containerships are becoming ever larger, and that Raytheon has had experience in providing Integrated Navigation Systems to companies like COSCO, what are the key things to have in mind when providing navigation solutions for these giants of the seas? 

Richter: Large ships are subjected to much higher risks. They are more difficult to maneuver than smaller ships, have longer stopping distances and make much slower turns. Looking out from a 40 meter-high bridge on board a large vessel is a challenge. If reaction time takes longer, then the watch officer needs earlier warnings and better information. In short: better situation awareness.

So far, Raytheon Anschütz has equipped about 35,000 vessels; some with gyros or radars, some with gyro and autopilots and others with complete integrated bridge systems.

Navigating the Ever Bigger Ships into the Future2

WMN: With the expansion of major shipping canals, Panama and Suez, higher traffic is expected on these waterways. What does this mean for navigation and safety of ships?

Richter: If a big ship runs aground in a canal, river or waterway – the problem is not just about injuries and damage to the hull and cargo. The casualty blocks the entire traffic in this area – sometimes for days. In general, to increase safety of navigation, there are three main points: situation awareness, avoidance of operator errors and reliable functionality.

Situation awareness has improved a lot in the past few years with new Multi-Function Displays (MFD). These displays combine Radar, ECDIS and other navigation information on easy-to-read standardized screens. Requirements for the new displays are defined in the IMO‘s new performance Standards for Integrated Navigation Systems IEC 61945.

WMN: What is currently the biggest challenge in safe navigation of ships? Do you see crew members being burdened by oversupply of big data or is it a matter of adequate training?

Richter: The Integrated Navigation Systems (INS) performance standards mentioned above also require unified operation philosophy for all screens, which definitely helps to reduce operator errors – and they define further system functions, which shall contribute to additional operational safety. Particularly interesting are the new alarm systems: unnecessary secondary alarms are suppressed, and the operator only sees the relevant messages. A great improvement which helps to additionally reduce stress on the bridge. In addition, INS continuously monitors important systems functions; and as radar, ECDIS, compass, steering control and GPS receiver are typically duplicated, the INS automatically selects the best available sensors.

Another topic is preventing IT trouble on board.

WMN: Just a year ago, you opened a service center in Panama, anticipating higher traffic in the route following the canal expansion. Looking back at the previous year, what have been the experiences so far?

Richter: All ships need technical service – namely maintenance, spare parts and repair. As the world fleet has grown over the past years and the industry has brought a higher number of systems into the market, the need for field maintenance and repair services will increase further over the next couple of years. Raytheon Anschütz’s new Service Center in Panama comes just at the right time. The new company – Raytheon Anschütz Panama – aims to serve as the regional customer support and service coordination center, including training capabilities and a large spare parts depot for Panama, Central and South America and the Caribbean.

Raytheon Anschütz owns two dedicated service hubs in Europe, one in Panama and a well-established hub in Singapore. All hubs have their own service coordination, large spare parts depots, and an extremely experienced staff. Customers will benefit from a significantly improved availability of spare parts and competent technical support at these two strategically most important locations for global shipping. It is becoming a real 365|24/7 service excellence.

WMN: As we enter 2016, what will be the focus/targets for Raytheon this year? Any new products we should look out for and if so, what would that be?

Richter: We have started to bring new technologies into the market which will increase efficiency while being easy to integrate into both new and existing systems. All this relates to lower cost of ownership, offering of improved performance, function or precision to further increase safety in navigation. Recent products cover the CAN-bus based NautoSteer AS steering control system, the fuel-saving NP5000 autopilot, the LAN based NSX radar transceivers with real raw video distribution, or a maintenance-free gyro compass solutions based on Hemispherical Resonator Gyros (HRG) – a technology with a long term performance which clearly outruns a FOG.

All our new products will be displayed at Asia Pacific Maritime (APM) 2016. We’re always looking for market penetration opportunities in the region given how it’s an important market for the maritime and offshore industry. APM is naturally considered for its ability to connect the maritime and offshore community – regardless of customers or exhibitors.

World Maritime News Staff; Image Courtesy: Raytheon Anschütz

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