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North Sea vessel remote controlled from California

OE Staff Friday, 01 September 2017 08:14

Technology group Wärtsilä has performed the remote operation of a North Sea platform supply vessel in the North Sea - from San Diego, California, 8000km away. 

The four-hour test, which involved driving the vessel through a sequence of manoeuvres using a combination of Dynamic Positioning (DP) and manual joystick control, was carried out at low and high speeds on 21 August off Scotland. The test was in collaboration with Gulfmark Offshore, which owns the vessel used, the 80m-long Highland Chieftain platform supply vessel. 

Wärtsilä's Dynamic Positioning unit developed remote control capabilities in the early part of 2016, but this was the first test carried out on an offshore vessel.

The Highland Chieftain is 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. 

Most importantly, says Wärtsilä, 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 retrofitting of the DP software was completed within just 30 hours.

"In the age of digitalisation, the future Smart Marine ecosystem will involve connecting 'smart' vessels with 'smart' ports to enable an even more efficient use of resources. It will also reduce the impact on climate while enhancing safety," says Roger Holm, President, Wärtsilä Marine Solutions.

Andrea Morgante, Head of Digital, Wärtsilä Marine Solutions adds: "One of the first and most critical hurdles to overcome along the path to the enablement of intelligent shipping is to develop efficient and reliable remote control and monitoring capabilities, taking factors such as bandwidth limitations and cyber security into consideration. This test provides a clear indication that we are well on the way to achieving this." 

It is anticipated that Wärtsilä's development of successful remote access to ships will also enable virtual service solutions to customers needing tuning or testing of their DP systems. Furthermore, this solution will be used for other pilot projects, such as automated docking procedures.

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2018-10-22 12:07:03am