Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Container Lines And Bulk Freight Carriers Collaborate On Safety Software

Systems Aboard Ship Just Got a Technology Boost
Shipping News Feature

EUROPE – Just a month ago we told how Flagship, the programme designed to bring safety and competitiveness to European maritime services had produced a software programme which could foretell the longevity of a vessel. Now, with the input of bulk freight carriers, container lines plus tanker and ferry interests, the programme has produced an up to date system which may have a very positive effect on potentially disastrous situations at sea.

Flagship, in part funded by the EU has successfully delivered the first advanced emergency situation management tool for fire and flooding with integrated ship to shore real time reporting. The system, known as Flagship – DSS (Decision Support System) takes us into realms previously only seen in science fiction, working as it does faster in many circumstances more quickly than the most experienced crew.

The system enables efficient decision making in distress situations, reducing risk and enhancing the effectiveness of mitigating actions. DSS was design led by the University of Strathclyde in the UK and manager of their Ship Stability Research Centre, responsible for the prototype development explains:

“The new generation probabilistic methods enhance decision making in distress conditions substantially by combining knowledge of ship’s vulnerability with instantaneous ship status sensors. These sensors monitor doors closures, flooding and tank levels, geographical positions, ship instantaneous attitude, clock etc.

“Computer processing of such information enables consideration of many decision options often not even conceivable by highly trained crews and at fractions of time traditional manual trial-and-error methods would take. Safety to ship and persons on board can be enhanced by orders of magnitude.”

Designed and developed as a management tool for sea-going vessels, Flagship - DSS introduces an even higher standard of risk management best practice. Trials were undertaken over a four month period in conjunction with premier shipping operators and during sea trials resulted in a 45% factual improvement in premeditative decision taking. These high quality decisions would simply not be possible without the information provided by the system.

Flagship – DSS integrates prognosis tools for fire and flooding with an evacuation simulation process, an advanced on-board stability calculator as well as an on-board emergency management system. It constantly collects data from all ship sensors to assess the vessels vulnerability at any one time providing the captain and crew with information upon which they can take prompt remedial actions to effectively bring an unfolding crisis under control. The system can also provide real time data simultaneously to shore based authorities to optimise communication in the unlikely event of a crisis situation occurring.

Flagship – DSS was led by the University of Strathclyde in the UK and was supported, delivered and trialled in conjunction with two British companies: Teekay Shipping and BMT Group; five Greek organisations: Altair Maritime Enterprise (subsidiary of Maran Tankers Management Inc.), Danaos Shipping Co Ltd, the National Technical University of Athens; Minoan Lines and Superfast Ferries S.A.; two Norwegian businesses: MARINTEK and Lodic AS and Instituto Superior Tecnico of Portugal.