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Dynamic positioning technology advances and guidance issues addressed

Tue 11 Apr 2017

Dynamic positioning technology advances and guidance issues addressed
Capt John Lloyd, The Nautical Institute

Dynamic Positioning (DP) system design and operation, and operator training issues were discussed at Riviera Maritime Media’s European Dynamic Positioning Conference in London in February. Delegates were updated on the latest rules and guidance regarding DP systems on a variety of ships.

The International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA)’s marine technical adviser Andy Goldsmith outlined the changes coming from its own guidance and IMO’s requirements. IMCA has updated its guidelines for training personnel on DP systems, M117. This has been recommended by an IMO sub-committee to be approved by the Maritime Safety Committee when it meets in June.

This committee is also set to approve the revised IMO 645 circular, covering the guidelines for designing and operating vessels with DP systems. First though, the circular needs to be recommended to MSC at the upcoming meeting of the ship systems and equipment sub-committee.

During Riviera’s conference, the Nautical Institute updated the industry on its drive to improve DP operator certification and training centre accreditation. The institute’s chief operating officer John Lloyd said 22 training centres had received accreditation for their DP revalidation simulator courses since the start of the year. This is for a shore-based pathway for DP operators to revalidate their certificates, which has to be done every five years.

Capt Lloyd told delegates that the institute had reduced the time it takes to process DP operator certification from four weeks down to less than two weeks. It was also developing recognition for DP maintenance training courses for technical engineers on DP vessels and for emergency manoeuvring courses for vessels.

Delegates were also told how changes were coming to guidelines and regulations for DP vessels operating in the US. Braemar Engineering director of DP and offshore projects, Kyle Eddings, said US Coast Guard guidelines have been drafted and OSV operators are developing their own DP operator accreditation. But he warned that vessel operators are looking to cut costs, which could lead to safety issues arising.

Peter Solvang, managing director of DP and Marine Assurance Norway, said more vessel operators are using remote and rolling DP trials instead of annual tests. He said this would increase vessel safety, reduce costs for vessel operators, improve the early warning of potential faults and enhance the technical knowledge of crew. He said 46 platform supply vessels and anchor handlers, from five different vessel operators were using rolling DP trials with good feedback and success.

The latest vessel automation and sensor technology was also revealed at the event, with Wärtsilä and GE Marine Solutions unveiling their technology. Wärtsilä vice president for commercial operations Michael Ford explained how smart prediction units will help the shipping and offshore industries head towards greater vessel autonomy. GE’s marine systems solutions director Nick Smith outlined how the shipping industry needs to adopt greater levels of digitalisation.

Exhibitors at the conference revealed new position reference sensors. For example, Veripos launched the multi-constellation service Apex 5 and visualisation software interface. Oceaneering’s C-Nav introduced interference resistance antennas and Positioneering presented its positioning service.

DNV GL has launched a free, online application for vessel operators to test the capabilities of ship positioning and DP. DNV GL senior principal specialist for DP systems, Aleks Karlsen, said this is based on new standards for station keeping assessment, which were published in January 2016. He said there were five levels of assessment, based on the Beaufort scale for wind and sea state.

DNV GL also discussed how the offshore industry could adopt closed bus-tie operations. This involves redundant power systems linked through closed bus ties, which reduces ship emissions, but is considered to be prone to faults and failures. DNV GL group technical authority for DP explained that systems need to be designed for safe operations in closed bus-tie modes and for more testing. Operators also need to consider more protective functions in DP systems when operating in this mode.

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