Tug sector insists on more robust navigation systems
Publicado por mjsigol
While it is one of the market leaders in the big-ship navigation systems sector, Northrop Grummam’s Sperry Marine division has won a number of tug-related projects in recent years and continues to have success in this niche market.
Sperry Marine has, for example, supplied equipment to a series of 14 tugs being built at the Bogazici Shipyard, through its reseller, STT, in Turkey. The latest award within this market is for two radars, a gyrocompass, a Navipilot, a Naviknot – a multisensory speed log that uses satellite-based technology to determine dual-axis speed over ground – and further navigation equipment for tugs for deployment in Europe.
In the US, Sperry Marine also has a sizeable market share in the tug sector, primarily involving legacy steering and gyro products. Manager for technical sales Jesse Artiaga says: “We are strong in retrofits with our Navigat gyros and have received numerous requests for steering controls. This is of significant importance in two main tug functions: escorting duties and ship handling.”
In other markets, both the Suez Canal Authority and the Cyprus Port Authority have been regular Sperry Marine customers over the years.
Mr Artiaga points out that as tugs tend to have upper and lower pilothouses, both the controls and the switching between controls are unique to tugs. “Fully redundant bridges and switchability are very big advantages for these types of vessels,” he says.
“Steering controls and systems are what Sperry Marine is known for and we have legacy strength in that area. Tugs require a very robust and reliable system in a small package and we can deliver that.”
The tug industry’s requirements for navigation and control systems have become more sophisticated, and Mr Artiaga believes that tug clients generally now require only class-approved and IMO-compliant equipment. “All our suites have classification society approvals, especially in terms of steering, steering control and autopilot systems. The industry is now demanding smarter, more adaptable, robust and reliable systems,” he says.
Enhancements to ships in service are increasingly popular to meet changing operational and regulatory requirements. “Sperry Marine’s latest Navigat gyro is a very sound retrofit solution, which is economical and can also be easily adapted to older equipment,” he adds.
“The Navigat 10MK2, which is specifically designed for the tug and workboat industry, is more reliable than earlier-generation models, and has new communications protocols, offering more efficient distribution of heading data.”
Another leading navigation system supplier, Raytheon Anschütz, is active in the tug sector and the company’s primary products for this particular market include its Standard 22 gyrocompass and new radar, which will be unveiled at this year’s SMM in Hamburg, in September.
Raytheon’s latest radar is distinguished mainly by two innovations concerning the transceiver. Network technology replaces analogue data transmission, and the pedestal is of a revised electrical and mechanical design, which reduces the total cost of ownership and simplifies servicing.
The new NautoScan NX radar transceivers are based on modern hardware and software infrastructure and are configured to achieve high levels of reliability and excellent performance levels. Radar status and raw video is generated in the transceiver, shared through a digital interface and distributed through a Dual Gigabit LAN (local area network) to an unlimited number of PCs, without any analogue losses.
Raytheon says the main advantage is that by using digital technology, the radar can provide high-quality raw data and, at the same time, applications on the bridge are provided with greater flexibility in processing the radar signals. Marketing manager Martin Richter says: “The range of applications and requirements is correspondingly wide, from a single navigation radar on a small vessel to large bridge systems, from a simple point-to-point connection set-up to a dual-redundant radar distribution network.”
The new radar comes with a number of improvements. These include better signal processing, a built-in testing capability to facilitate service diagnosis, an integrated and automated performance monitoring system and an innovative sleep mode, designed to save Magnetron lifetime when the radar is on standby.
Additionally, the new pedestal is expected to simplify maintenance and repairs and so help reduce operational costs through better access to components. Raytheon claims it comprises a robust, practical design that makes handling of the electronic components much easier than before. The unit also contains a maintenance-free gearbox that Raytheon expects will further reduce service costs.
NautoScan NX will become a key component of the new-generation Synapsis Radar. Besides the new transceivers, the latest generation Synapsis Radar consists of a display selectable from a range of different sizes, a newly introduced standard PC with solid-state drive and a fan-less, compact design, the Radar software and flat-profile antennas with sizes of 6ft (1.83m), 8ft (2.44m) or 12ft (3.66m).
Raytheon’s Standard 22 Gyro Compass is a popular choice for tug operators and the company is selling around 1,800 units a year for various vessel types, making it the market leader. All Anschütz Standard 22 Gyro Compasses have a long gyro sphere lifetime and contact-free transmission of the gyro supply voltage, as well as an optical signal transmission of the sensor data, which contributes to high levels of operational reliability and safety.
Advanced functions include an independent transmitting magnetic compass, as well as an individual speed error correction mode in double and triple compass systems, designed to increase the flexibility and reliability of the compass system. The Standard 22 is available in different system configurations, from a single gyrocompass for retrofit solutions, up to double and triple gyrocompass systems with redundancy in distribution for the highest class notations.
Rotterdam-based Alphatron Marine has a very specific offering for tugs and is in the process of launching the latest version of its Alphabridge tugboat bridge console concept, a development that will also be unveiled at SMM. Director Luuk Vrombout says: “Although the working environment on a tug can be more dangerous than on a traditional sea going vessel, a tug’s wheelhouse and its safety were not considered to be one of the main priorities, until now. Recent accidents and case studies have, however, proven the need for another way of working.”
Two years ago Alphatron introduced the first ergonomic Alphabridge for tugs, and this was the result of a design study undertaken with some of the world’s leading tug operators. The modular tug version of Alphabridge is designed to ensure all-round visibility and excellent ship control, without any compromises.
“This concept generated a lot of interest and resulted in the first orders in 2013, which are being installed on six Rotortugs currently under construction at Damen Shipyards in the Netherlands and Cheoy Lee Shipyards in Hong Kong,” Mr Vrombout adds.
A special dual version of the Alphabridge tug concept has also been selected for the new Robert Allan-designed ART 100-42 infield support vessels recently ordered at ASL’s shipyard in Singapore, which, after completion, will be used to assist Shell’s first floating liquefied natural gas production facility, Prelude.
The Alphatron tugboat bridge console concept is based on two 19in (0.48m) screens, showing radar and ecdis at the fore position. In addition, two further 15in (0.38m) screens are part of the fore steering position and these are able to show a wide range of information through a smart touchscreen switching arrangement, including CCTV, radar, ecdis and AMS.
The aft position has a single 15in screen showing the same information as at the fore position, and this is again selectable using a smart switching arrangement.
Alphatron is also promoting its Alphaline MF range of instruments, which is designed to provide a clear overview on the bridge. The new range can be operated via a touchscreen panel using the latest thin film transistor (TFT) technology and is available in different screen sizes. These instruments can be stand-alone indicators or repeater units for parameters such as vessel speed, wind speed and direction, depth and time, or as a magnetic heading repeater.
Delivering effective ecdis solutions is a growing priority within the shipping industry generally and there continue to be plenty of initiatives from suppliers to meet evolving regulatory guidelines, as well as owners’ requirements in this context. For example, UK-based PC Maritime has recently upgraded its ecdis so that it now meets the requirements of the new voyage data recorder (VDR) performance standard MSC.333(90), which came into force on 1 July 2014.
VDR installations must now include the ability to capture ecdis screenshots at least every 15 seconds, record the charts in use at least every 10 minutes and record all changes on charts. This requires ecdis manufacturers to enable the appropriate outputs from the ecdis, and PC Maritime confirms it has now completed this work in accordance with IEC 61996-1 and 61162-450 specifications. The upgrade has ensured that the Navmaster ecdis is compatible with all VDR units conforming to the new standards.
PC Maritime points out that it provides an ecdis upgrade and support service to customers who wish to keep their ecdis up-to-date with the latest available systems. Navmaster upgrades are free to subscribers, are sent direct to the ship via email and can be installed by a vessel’s crew, with no need for an engineer to visit.
Meanwhile, Danelec Marine, a leading VDR supplier, has announced that its new-generation DM100 VDR has been type-approved by Bundesamt für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie (BSH) in Germany. The BSH type approval certifies that the DM100 VDR meets all the revised IMO performance standards and technical requirements, as defined in IMO Resolution MSC.333(90), and complies with EU Wheelmark requirements.
However, it is not currently mandatory for vessels of 3,000gt or smaller to carry VDR or simplified VDR (S-VDR). So, in the case of an incident, tugs without VDR or VHF recordings may find they are missing vital evidence to make a claim or counter any claim against them.
Telemar believes its new VHF Blackbox voice recorder could make a difference. It is designed specifically as a cost-effective way of providing vessels with no S-VDR requirement with the means to record VHF communications. The technology has a payback facility through any standard PC, without the need for any specialist software, and a connection to GPS, giving date, time and location.
The recorder can be connected, if a suitable output is available, directly to the VHF, while a VHF interface can be used to combine separate audio transmission and reception through the VHF recorder for any VHF radios that do not have a dedicated output for VDR/S-VDR/VHF recorders installed.
Both audio and data can be saved to a 16GB card, which can be accessed by a PC with a suitable card reader. Data is stored as AVI format files in segments of one minute, making it simple to find the required period. They can then be replayed, using standard Microsoft applications.
Through the Telemar Blackbox, GPS information can be displayed on screen during the audio playback, along with the system’s unique serial number, which clearly identifies the vessel in question. TTB