E-navigation has roots in 90s project By Malcolm Latarche
Publicado por mjsigol
ATOMOS was the acronym for Advanced Technology for Optimizing Manpower on Ships, and its goal was to find ways to reduce manning on EU ships to make them more competitive.
At the time, the EU felt that European shipping was losing out to Asian and Eastern European competitors, who had lower wage costs and could therefore consistently undercut European operators. In the early 1990s, it was wages, and not fuel, that constituted the greatest part of a shipowner’s outlay.
The summary document of the first ATOMOS project (there were to be at least three more stages) contained the following conclusion:
“In terms of significance, many of the ATOMOS results should prove to be of substantial value. It is no secret that competition in the shipping industry is increasing day by day, with European shipowners being under constant pressure from Third World owners, or owners operating under Third World flags.”
It further stated that ATOMOS research had found that a “low-manning ship equipped with ATOMOS technology is more competitive than a similar vessel equipped with conventional technology. A further finding of the research is that modern, low-manning, high-tech ships are (at least) as safe as conventional ships”.
Many of the technologies looked into during the ATOMOS project showed great potential for an even further increase in maritime safety, an increase that could easily become mandatory, and an increase that might not be possible for vessels with conventional equipment.
The ATOMOS results indicated that the use of high-tech vessels would increase competitiveness, safety and profits.
While it may not be recorded in the ATOMOS documents, there was a belief that the project could eventually lead to unmanned ships being operated remotely by shipping companies and shore traffic controllers. Perhaps realizing that such a scenario was not going to be an easy sell, the project morphed into something less revolutionary and aimed more at safer shipping.
The first summary document contains hints at what the IMO would be asked to promote and what will be recognized as the core elements of e-Navigation. For example:
“The aim was to develop and integrate voyage planning, track planning and navigation tools such as electronic sea charts and situational analysis in order to minimize manpower needs and operator workloads in the ship control center.”
The direct consequence of the research was expected to provide means for optimized voyage plans with respect to economy and safety, taking into account fuel consumption, weather, wave data and other information.
The track planning part of the system was expected to increase safety by providing decision support during close encounters with other vessels, based on the international rules for collision avoidance.
The summary document further stated that “work was undertaken with the objective of examining current approaches to the integration of navigation, cargo handling and the control and monitoring of machinery to allow them to be performed, under normal operational conditions, by one man at a centralized ship control station. By considering factors such as ergonomic layout, man/machine interfaces and the optimization of operating procedures, the aim of the task was to produce guidelines for the safe and efficient implementation of centralized ship control stations.”b
Hence the idea of e-Navigation was born.