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Maritime Digitalisation & Communications

Station keeping - the latest developments in positioning technology

Mon 13 May 2019 by Martyn Wingrove

Station keeping - the latest developments in positioning technology
Guidance Marine’s RS24 high resolution radar uses K-band to detect small hazards close to vessels

Developments in position reference technology and sensors add safety to offshore manoeuvring

Wärtsilä subsidiary Guidance Marine has tested SceneScan, its first targetless laser sensor for dynamic positioning (DP). It has also introduced short-range radar for intelligent navigation. Topaz Energy and Marine tested SceneScan on its DP class 2-capable platform supply vessel Topaz Citadel during a 90-day trial.

Guidance Marine head of business development Andrew Stead says the trials were conducted on Topaz Citadel, offshore Azerbaijan, where Topaz operates a fleet of support vessels for oil major BP.

“The testing and evaluation was carried out and proven under actual DP operations around offshore platforms in the Caspian Sea,” he says. “The positive feedback provides further evidence of the efficiency and accuracy of the SceneScan system.”

Topaz operations director Paul Jarkiewicz says installation on Topaz Citadel was seamless, supported by Wärtsilä throughout the testing period. “We have no doubt that the SceneScan system will add considerable value to the DP operations of our versatile and digitised fleet,” he says.

Following the successful trial, Topaz plans to keep the system on Topaz Citadel, and will install similar systems on other vessels, beginning with upgrading existing DP sensor systems on four of its vessels.

As described by Wärtsilä, SceneScan is a high-accuracy rotating laser sensor that provides positional data to allow automated approach and station keeping relative to a structure or vessel. The tracking information is relative to natural or man-made structures within the sensor's field of view and matches its current observation of the scene against a map generated from previous observations.

In April, Wärtsilä unveiled Guidance Marine’s RS24 high resolution radar. It says this is the first commercially available K-band maritime radar and can detect smaller objects at a higher radar resolution than conventional S- or X-band radars. It could be used by OSVs in busy ports to detect small hazards.

RS24 radar images can be integrated with the Wärtsilä Nacos integrated navigational system on vessels to improve situational awareness.

Guidance Marine business development manager Sasha Heriot describes RS24 radar as a “ground-breaking development” that offers “unparalleled close-range fidelity, providing a level of situational awareness that is unprecedented in ship radars.”

Rival technology group, Hexagon subsidiary Veripos, has secured a multi-year extension to provide precise positioning information to a global surveying company. Veripos supplies position reference information based on the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) to subsea services group Acteon’s subsidiary UTEC.

As part of the contract extension, Veripos will upgrade existing GNSS hardware with the latest multi-constellation, multi-frequency receivers, which include the latest Apex5 signal corrections and Quantum GNSS visualisation software.

Veripos general manager John Macleod says technology development is vital in maintaining safety and reliability of offshore operations because of growing risks of GNSS signal interference.

“As offshore operations are now encountering more incidences of intentional and non-intentional GNSS interference, our latest anti-jamming technology is designed to ensure the highest levels of signal integrity,” he says.

Signal interference can be mitigated by including information from more GNSS constellations in precision navigation and positioning products. GNSS can include data from GPS, Glonass, Galileo and Beidou constellations and other regional services.

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