Finnish technology group Wärtsilä has taken a step towards developing its Smart Marine capabilities as it tested the remote control of ship operations.
The testing, which involved driving the vessel through a sequence of manoeuvres using a combination of Dynamic Positioning (DP) and manual joystick control, was carried out on August 21 off the North Sea coast of Scotland in collaboration with US-based operator Gulfmark Offshore.
Although the test vessel was in the North Sea, the remote control navigating was carried out from the Wärtsilä office located in San Diego, California, 8000 km away.
Wärtsilä’s Dynamic Positioning unit developed remote control capabilities in the early part of 2016, but this was the first test carried out on the offshore vessel Highland Chieftain. The ship is an 80 metre platform supply vessel already fitted with a Wärtsilä Nacos Platinum package for Navigation, Automation and Dynamic Positioning systems, as well as a Wärtsilä drives package.
For the test, additional software was temporarily added to the DP system in order to route data over the vessel’s satellite link to the onshore work station in California.
The testing was carried out using standard bandwidth onboard satellite communication. No land-based technology was used for the communications between the vessel and the remote operator work station.
The successful test was conducted over an almost 4 hour period during which time the vessel was driven through a series of manoeuvres at both high and low speeds. All the test procedures carried out went as planned.