One of the fundamental trends in the maritime industry over the past decades has been an increasing reliance on electrical and electronic technologies for navigation and communication services. These technologies have moved well out of the mechanical era and fully into the electronic and information age. This is particularly true for equipment on ocean-going cargo, passenger vessels and for industrial fishing fleets but now even applies to the smallest of vessels. The origin of electronic instruments can be traced back to the 1970’s era when they began to replace the electromechanical instruments. Current interest in Electronics have helped in reducing the workload of the bridge team through better integrated navigation systems and displays as such reducing the workload of handling alarms deriving from malfunctions of equipment and navigational warnings. Electronic support system for Maritime Navigation has helped to develop standards for Integrated Navigation systems and Bridge Alarm Management to assist in these areas. However putting into cognizance the inexhaustible benefits of this technology application and its significance especially in the area of support for distress management, security and safety communication solutions, it is pathetic to see that operations within the maritime industry are still been invaded by the activities of pirates, terrorists and militants. This presentation aims to buttress the importance of electronic support system for maritime navigation. INTRODUCTION
LEGISLATION In an attempt to seek for better ways of improving maritime distress and safety communications, in 1979, a group of experts drafted the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue, which called for development of a global search and rescue plan. This group passed a resolution calling for development by IMO of a Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) to provide the communication support needed to implement the search and rescue plan. This new system, which the world's maritime nations are implementing, is based upon a combination of satellite and terrestrial radio services, and has changed international distress communications from being primarily ship-to-ship based to ship-to-shore (Rescue Coordination Centre) based. The GMDSS provides for automatic distress alerting and locating in cases where a radio operator doesn't have time to send an SOS or MAYDAY call, and, for the first time, requires ships to receive broadcasts of maritime safety information which could prevent a distress from happening in the first place. In 1988, IMO amended the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention, requiring ships subject to it fit GMDSS equipment. Such ships were required to carry NAVTEX and satellite EPIRBs by August 1, 1993, and had to fit all other GMDSS equipment by February 1, 1999.
In agreement with the enacted legislation, various Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) providing services within the maritime industry have started manufacturing electronic support systems such as Emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB), NAVTEX, Inmarsat, Medium/High/Very High Frequency (MF/HF/VHF) Radios, Automatic Identification System (AIS), Search and Rescue Locating device, Voyage Data Recorder (VDR), Radio Detection And Ranging (RADAR), Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS), Gyrocompass, Long Range Thermal Camera etc. according to these standards.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION ON SOME OF THESE SOLUTIONS Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) An EPIRB serves as an alarm for SAR stations in case of accidents at sea or in the air. In order to do this, the EPIRB first determines its own position after an alarm and then transmits the distress call via one or several satellites. In case of an accident the EPIRB automatically transmits the following data via the satellites to the base stations: the vessel’s call sign, type of accident, its last position with actual time as well as the direction in which it is moving and its velocity. Firstly the emergency transmitter determines its own position with the help of the GPS satellite navigation system. This is performed by a built-in GPS receiver. The determination of the position can also be guaranteed by connecting the EPIRB to the vessel’s own navigation system. After the stipulated waiting period of two to eight minutes the EPIRB starts to transmit the distress call via one or several Inmarsat satellites. During this waiting period an audio signal is emitted to give the user one last chance to de-activate the unit. This is to reduce the possibility of false alarms. The EPIRB mostly comes as a floating buoy. In case of an accident it automatically ejects from its cradle, surfaces and transmits a distress signal. The NAVTEC EPIRB can also be activated by remote control from a ship's bridge. Furthermore, it can be taken along as a separate unit and activated manually.
The picture shows the signal paths after an emergency EPIRB
Navtex Navtex is an international, automated system for instantly distributing maritime safety information (MSI) which includes navigational warnings, weather forecasts and weather warnings, search and rescue notices and similar information to ships. A small, low-cost and self-contained "smart" printing radio receiver is installed on the bridge, or the place from where the ship is navigated, and checks each incoming message to see if it has been received during an earlier transmission, or if it is of a category of no interest to the ship's master. The frequency of transmission of these messages is 518 kHz in English, while 490 kHz is sometime used to broadcast in a local language. The messages are coded with a header code identified by the using single letters of the alphabet to represent broadcasting stations, type of messages, and followed by two figures indicating the serial number of the message. For example: FA56 where F is the ID of the transmitting station, A indicates the message category navigational warning, and 56 is the consecutive message number.
Inmarsat Satellite systems operated by the Inmarsat, overseen by the International Mobile Satellite Organization (IMSO) are also important elements of the GMDSS. The types of Inmarsat ship earth station terminals recognized by the GMDSS are: Inmarsat B, C and F77. Inmarsat B and F77, an updated version of the now redundant Inmarsat A, provide ship/shore, ship/ship and shore/ship telephone, telex and high-speed data services, including a distress priority telephone and telex service to and from rescue coordination centres. Fleet 77 fully supports the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) and includes advanced features such as emergency call prioritisation. The Inmarsat C provides ship/shore, shore/ship and ship/ship store-and-forward data and email messaging, the capability for sending preformatted distress messages to a rescue coordination centre, and the Inmarsat C Safety NET service. The Inmarsat C Safety NET service is a satellite-based worldwide maritime safety information broadcast service of high seas weather warnings, NAVAREA navigational warnings, radio navigation warnings, ice reports and warnings generated by the USCG-conducted International Ice Patrol, and other similar information not provided by NAVTEX. Safety NET works similarly to NAVTEX in areas outside NAVTEX coverage.
SOLAS now requires that Inmarsat C equipment have an integral satellite navigation receiver, or be externally connected to a satellite navigation receiver. That connection will ensure accurate location information to be sent to a rescue coordination centre if a distress alert is ever transmitted. Also the new LRIT long range tracking systems are upgraded via GMDSS Inmarsat C which are also compliant along with inbuilt SSAS, or ship security alert system. SSAS provides a means to covertly transmit a security alert distress message to local authorities in the event of a mutiny, pirate attack, or other hostile action towards the vessel or its crew. Inmarsat C
Automatic Identification System (AIS) The Automatic Identification System (AIS) is an automatic tracking system used on ships and by vessel traffic services (VTS) for identifying and locating vessels by electronically exchanging data with other nearby ships, AIS base stations, and satellites. When satellites are used to detect AIS signatures then the term Satellite-AIS (S-AIS) is used. AIS information supplements marine radar, which continues to be the primary method of collision avoidance for water transport. AIS is intended to assist a vessel's watch standing officers and allow maritime authorities to track and monitor vessel movements. AIS integrates a standardized VHF transceiver with a positioning system such as a LORAN-C or GPS receiver, with other electronic navigation sensors, such as a gyrocompass or rate of turn indicator. Vessels fitted with AIS transceivers and transponders can be tracked by AIS base stations located along coast lines or, when out of range of terrestrial networks, through a growing number of satellites that are fitted with special AIS receivers which are capable of differentiating a large number of signatures.
A marine traffic coordinator using AIS and radar to manage vessel traffic An AIS-equipped system on board a ship presents the bearing and distance of nearby vessels in a radar-like display format. A graphical display of AIS data on board a ship
Search and Rescue Locating Device The GMDSS installation on ships include one (two on vessels over 500 GT) Search and Rescue Locating device(s) called Search and Rescue Radar Transponders (SART) which are used to locate survival craft or distressed vessels by creating a series of twelve dots on a rescuing ship's 3 cm radar display. The detection range between these devices and ships, dependent upon the height of the ship's radar mast and the height of the Search and Rescue Locating device, is normally about 15 km (8 nautical miles). Once detected by radar, the Search and Rescue Locating device will produce a visual and aural indication to the persons in distress.
Voyage Data Recorder Voyage data recorder, or VDR, is a data recording system designed for all vessels required to comply with the IMO’s International Convention SOLAS Requirements (IMO Res.A.861(20)) in order to collect data from various sensors on board the vessel. It then digitizes, compresses and stores this information in an externally mounted protective storage unit. The protective storage unit is a tamper-proof unit designed to withstand the extreme shock, impact, pressure and heat, which could be associated with a marine incident (fire, explosion, collision, sinking, etc.). The protective storage unit may be in a retrievable fixed unit or free float unit (or combined with EPIRB) when the ship sunk in marine incident. The last 24 hours of stored data in the protected unit can be recovered and replayed by the authorities or ship owners for incident investigation. Beside the protective storage unit, the VDR system may consist of recording control unit and data acquisition unit, which connected to various equipment and sensors on board a ship. Although the primary purpose of the VDR is for accident investigation after the fact, there can be other uses of recorded data for preventive maintenance, performance efficiency monitoring, heavy weather damage analysis, accident avoidance and training purposes to improve safety and reduce running costs. Simplified voyage data recorder (S-VDR), as defined by the requirements of IMO Performance Standard MSC.163 (78), is a lower cost simplified version VDR for small ships with only basic ship's data recorded.
Radar Designed for detecting and tracking objects (targets) at considerable distances. The basic principle behind radar is simple - extremely short bursts of radio energy (travelling at the speed of light) are transmitted, reflected off a target and then returned as an echo. Radar makes use of a phenomenon we have all observed, that of the ECHO PRINCIPLE. To illustrate this principle, if a ship’s whistle were sounded in the middle of the ocean, the sound waves would dissipate their energy as they travelled outward and at some point would disappear entirely. If, however the whistle sounded near an object such as a cliff some of the radiated sound waves would be reflected back to the ship as an echo. The form of electromagnetic signal radiated by the radar depends upon the type of information needed about the target. Radar, as designed for marine navigation applications, is pulse modulated. Pulse-modulated radar can determine the distance to a target by measuring the time required for an extremely short burst of radio-frequency (r-f) energy to travel to the target and return to its source as a reflected echo. Directional antennas are used for transmitting the pulse and receiving the reflected echo, thereby allowing determination of the direction or bearing of the target echo. Once time and bearing are measured, these targets or echoes are calculated and displayed on the radar display.
Ecdis An Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) is a computer- based navigation information system that can be used as an alternative to paper nautical charts. An ECDIS system displays the information from electronic navigational charts (ENC) or Digital Nautical Charts (DNC) and integrates position information from position, heading and speed through water reference systems and optionally other navigational sensors. Other sensors which could interface with an ECDIS are Radar, Navtex, Automatic Identification System (AIS). The Electronic Chart Display and Information systems (ECDIS) are extremely efficient mean of navigation, which significantly reduce the workload of the officers on watch, thus allowing them to devote more time to the observation of the surroundings and to the navigation of the ship. The ECDIS is unique means of navigation, particularly as far as the automatic activation of the alarm signal upon the detection of dangerous objects marked on the chart is concerned. Considering that nearly 50% of all accidents are the result of navigational errors.
Gyrocompass Based on latest gyro compass technology the Anschütz Standard 22 Gyro Compass ensures highest accuracy and maximum reliability under all environmental conditions. Operational safety of the gyro compass was dramatically increased due to a unique technical design which uses a patented data transmission technology instead of using slip rings. Providing proven gyro compass technology and long maintenance periods, the Anschütz Standard 22 Gyro Compass is a long time secure investment with lowest operation costs. Since the Anschütz Standard 22 Gyro Compass was designed as a modular system, our customers can expect outstanding features in order to meet their individual requirements best.
Long Range Thermal Camera The HRC-Series are equipped with a highly reliable, mid-wave, cooled detector which offers extremely long range detection in all weather conditions. The cameras offer a continuous optical and electronic zoom. It provides excellent situational awareness while also giving the possibility to zoom in at suspect activities, and have a closer look, once they are detected. The HRC-Series can be integrated into existing networks or used as a stand alone unit. The HRC-Series provides extreme long range detection and excellent image quality, in the darkest of nights, through smoke and dust. You can detect a man-size target several kilometres away. All thermal imaging cameras are extremely suited for border and coastal surveillance but also for mid-range threat detection.
THERMAL CAMERA FOR BORDER SECURITY AND COASTAL SURVEILLANCE
In line with these development, an indigenous based company Radial Circle Marine Services which is also a division of Radial Circle Group acts as OEMs representative/partners to provide these specialized solutions in Nigeria and other parts of Gulf of Guinea. Some of our endless OEM partners include Sperry Marine, Furuno, Thrane & Thrane, Raytheon, Jotron, JRC, Consilium, Samsung etc
Some applications of the electronic support systems we have carried out in recent times within the Nigerian maritime sector include: Installation of Modern Navigational and Communication equipment onboard Nigerian Naval Seaward Defence Boat-NNS ANDONI Complete Retrofit of Radar, DGPS, AIS, Gyrocompass and VSAT onboard Bonga FPSO Complete Retrofit of Radar, DGPS, AIS, Gyrocompass and VSAT onboard Sea Eagle FPSO Design, procurement and Installation of vessel tracking system for Lagos Channel Management using AIS and Telchart ( Electronic Chart ). Installation and maintenance of Nera F77 Inmarsat terminal on Global Santafe Baltic drilling rig, offshore Nigeria. Installation and commissioning of Orbit stabilized Ku band VSAT system for Shell exploration on Transocean Jim Cunningham drilling rig, offshore Nigeria Installation and commissioning of Ship Security Alarm System (SSAS) on Brave Heart vessel, Addax field, offshore Nigeria Installation and commissioning of Seatel stabilized dual band (C/ Ku band), TVRO entertainment system on Transocean DWP drilling rig, offshore Nigeria
VMS and DP Installation and commissioning onboard Bourbon Ajax and Bora. Procurement, Installation and Commissioning of Sperry Dual Channel BME Radar Onboard Chevron Agbami FPSO Maintenance of Yokogawa Gyrocompass (CMZ700) on sea eagle FPSO offshore Nigeria. Maintenance of Raytheon Anschutz gyrocompass (standard 20) on Bonga FPSO, offshore Nigeria Programming and commissioning of vessels EPIRB’s within the gulf of guinea. GMDSS console installation for Transocean Islander Rig. Supply, install and commissioning of Sperry Radar on Agbami FPSO Supply, install and commissioning of Furuno Radar on Shell Sea Eagle FPSO and integration with Furuno AIS Supply, install and commissioning of Furuno Radar on Shell SNEPCO Bonga FPSO and integration with Furuno AIS Installation and maintenance of Raytheon Anschutz gyro sphere on MT Tuma. Installation and integration of JRC radar on MV Lady Doja
CONCLUSION The trend in the maritime industry over the past decades has further increased reliance on the use of electronic technologies for navigation and communication purposes. These technologies have assisted vessel owners, operators and maritime authorities track and monitor vessel movements, determine vessel location after receiving a distress call via one or several satellites during search and rescue mission to mention a few. This in many advanced countries has been proved to curb the activities of pirates, militants fond of attacking ships. Also, it has proved pivotal to collision avoidance and the search and rescue mission of several vessels at sea. Consequently, the use of electronic support systems for maritime operations can be said to be inevitable especially in the area effective navigation purposes and should be embraced by the maritime industry in all totality.