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Maritime Digitalisation & Communications

Radar upgraded for oil spill detection and collision avoidance

Fri 11 May 2018 by Martyn Wingrove

Radar upgraded for oil spill detection and collision avoidance
JRC’s JMR-5400 radar series successfully completed its first sea trials in May

Radar can be enhanced through data processing to detect oil, ice and marine mammals on the sea surface, while a new safety function can improve situational awareness

Radar can be adapted for oil and ice detection using specialised software. Navigation radar transceivers can be connected to bridge workstations that display changes in sea conditions and wave heights, which can become clutter for navigation, but is useful for detecting oil on water and ice floes.

Sens2Sea has developed advanced sea-wave analytics for oil and ice detection, which uses an upgraded X-band pulse navigation radar scanner that rotates at high speed and has an output power of 25 kW. This feeds radar information into a signal process interface, which outputs to the bridge display.

Other information also comes into the signal process interface from the vessel’s positioning and automatic identification systems. This interface also processes ship heading, roll, pitch and heave data.

Small objects such as marine mammals can also be detected by this radar, said Sens2Sea expert of antenna development Silvester Heijnen. “Using the same frequency and software we can detect changes in sea surface, such as the wake of vessels, oil spills and mammals,” he told Marine Electronics & Communications.

“With the sensitivity we have on this system, it can detect tiny oil discharges, as low as 3 litres and it can detect objects up to 1 km away.” Sens2Sea tested its radar on Dutch coastguard and emergency response ship Arca in 2017 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Sens2Sea has also installed its radar technology on an Allseas heavy construction and offshore decommissioning ship.

Miros has also developed software that detects oil and ice from X-band radar images. “We measure the depth of the sea surface and use this for calculating wave height and to identify what is sitting on top, such as oil and ice,” said Miros sales manager Scott Miller. This software processes data from existing X-band radar scanners and motion reference sensors.

Miros onboard systems can transfer this information to a cloud-based service enabling shore managers to visualise the information to detect and track oil spills and ice. “We have introduced internet of things technology,” explained Mr Miller. “This means information can be accessed anywhere, such as shore offices.”

Miros is collaborating with Ocean Visuals to combine remote sensors for oil spill detection and verification. They provide customers with a set of complementary detection and verification sensors, addressing all aspects of surveillance, detection and verification.

This combines Miros radar and infrared-based surveillance with Ocean Visuals’ hyperspectral laser-induced fluorescence (HLIF)-based light detection and ranging (LiDAR). HLIF LiDAR provides high-resolution point measurements for detection and verification. The Norwegian companies plan to use remote sensing and combinations of different sensors that can be easily mounted on oil spill vessels and offshore production platforms.

An alternative band

ISPAS has developed Ku-band oil spill detection radar with the first installations on production platforms in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea. In 2017, four of these radar were installed on Lundin Petroleum’s Edvard Grieg platform and Statoil ordered six for its new platforms.

Because of the radio frequency they use, ISPAS’ radar can detect oil spills even on quiet sea surfaces and during low visibility, said managing director Richard Norland. “Our Ku-band radar operates at 15.75 GHz frequency and measures sea clutter,” he said.

“Ku-band has a longer detection range than X-band, it operates at high frequency and with dual polarisation”

“It improves detection capability by 70%, especially in quiet sea states, compared with X-band radar.” It can detect and identify targets using horizontal and vertical polarisation and its frequency does not interfere with satellite communications (Ku-band VSAT). “Ku-band has a longer detection range than X-band, it operates at high frequency and with dual polarisation,” said Mr Norland.

New navigation radar

Japanese bridge system manufacturers have introduced new radar series to improve ship navigation. Japan Radio Co (JRC) and Furuno Electric have unveiled new radar models with enhanced target identification, tracking and radar display.

JRC’s JMR-5400 radar series successfully completed its first sea trials in May after being introduced in November 2017. Its partner in the sea trials, Alphatron Marine, provided a JMR-5425-7 radar to its Iberia dealer, Hidronav, for installation on a fishing vessel.

This radar system, installed on 40 m bottom trawler Novo Alborada, includes a 25 kW scanner. It was used during voyages to and from fishing grounds in the Gran Sol area, between the Gulf of Biscay and south of the UK.

JRC said the vessel skipper required a high-power scanner to track and discriminate other fishing vessels with the longest detection capability possible for the sharpness of port contours and vessel targets.

JMR-5400 radar series has Cat 2 certification, so it is IMO-compliant and certified by a classification society under the EU’s Marine Equipment Directive. It comes with a 25 kW X-band NKE-2255 scanner or a 250 W, S-band solid-state antenna.

JMR-5400 radar comes with 19-in or 26-in displays, greater processing power and an updated human-machine interface. It is also compatible with JRC’s proprietary remote maintenance system (RMS), which uses JRC’s voyage data recorder and satellite communications to remotely link the equipment on a vessel to shore for performing remote diagnostics and preventive maintenance.

Furuno Electric has developed a new series of radar with more advanced functions, such as improved clutter and noise reduction and faster target tracking than its previous series. The FAR-2xx8 series has an S-band solid-state transceiver.

FAR-2xx8 series is a successor model of the FAR-2xx7 series and complies fully with the latest IMO performance standards. Furuno said this radar series uses automatic clutter elimination to detect and reduce radar reflections from sea and rain from being displayed on the screen.

It has updated the interface with an instant access bar that contains shortcut menus for direct access to tasks an operator would frequently use. However, the display has a similar menu structure to the FAR-2xx7 series that will be familiar to operators of the earlier models.

In addition, this radar series acquires a target’s tracking data within a couple of seconds, which Furuno said adds to the situational awareness of the operator, reducing the risk of collisions.

FAR-2xx8 also has an automatic clutter elimination (ACE) button that enables an operator to select an optimal target display setting automatically. ACE detects sea and rain clutter from received echoes’ range and bearing trends and automatically reduces this clutter in all weather and sea conditions.

Navico subsidiary Simrad introduced the NSO evo3 navigation system with integrated high-definition displays in Q1 2018. These connect to GPS, autopilot, Simrad radar and echosounders. NSO evo3 are touchscreen displays with screen-split functions and iMX6 quad-core processors for rapid chart updates.

NSO evo3 can be connected to Simrad Halo radar and S5100 sounder modules for forward-looking and 3D sonar imaging and used for route planning and execution, collision avoidance and vessel system control. Displays are available in 16-in, 19-in and 24-in models.

Quantum mechanics

Also during Q1 2018, Flir Systems subsidiary Raymarine introduced its new Quantum 2 Chirp Radar with Doppler target tracking. Marketing manager for the Americas Jim McGowan explained that compact and lightweight radar would be ideal for fast offshore vessels, including crew boats, offshore wind service craft, and fast rescue craft.

Quantum 2’s Doppler radar target tracking technology “dramatically improves safety and situational awareness for watchkeepers that are transiting both congested waterways and open seas,” he said. Raymarine radar can instantly recognise subtle changes to the frequencies of its return echoes caused by targets in motion.  

“Radar dramatically improves safety and situational awareness for watchkeepers that are transiting both congested waterways and open seas”

Moving targets with a decreasing range are colour coded in red on the plan position indicator (PPI), while those with an increasing range are coloured in green. Non-moving or stationary targets are displayed in a neutral third colour. “This makes it simple for watch officers to quickly identify targets in motion on the radar scope and assess their risk of collision,” said Mr McGowan.

Raymarine also introduced a Safety Sector function to its radar to reduce the risk that bridge teams will become so overwhelmed by multiple moving targets that they lose awareness of the non-moving contacts, such as navigation aids, stopped or moored vessels, exposed rocks or land masses.

Safety Sector is an invisible cone 5° wide, projected outwards to 200 m in front of the vessel on the radar PPI. “Any contacts, moving or stationary, that enter the safety sector with a decreasing range are coloured in red to highlight them as a threat,” said Mr McGowan.

Raymarine also equipped Quantum 2 with its latest-generation mini-ARPA (automatic radar plotting aid) system, which he said was suited to fast offshore vessels “because of its superior ability to track radar contacts moving at high speeds and in heavy weather conditions.”

Quantum 2 can automatically acquire and track up to 25 targets while calculating their course, speed, closest point of approach and time to that point. This radar operates with Raymarine’s Axiom and Axiom Pro series of multifunction displays.


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