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Wartsila Successfully Tests Operation of Remote Control Ship

By | September 1, 2017
      Highland Chieftan vessel. Photo: Gulfmark.

      Highland Chieftan vessel. Photo: Gulfmark.

      The technology group Wartsila has successfully tested the remote control of ship operations. Wartsila carried out the testing, which involved driving the vessel through a sequence of maneuvers using a combination of Dynamic Positioning (DP) and manual joystick control, on Aug. 21 off the North Sea coast of Scotland in collaboration with Gulfmark Offshore, the U.S. based operator who provided the vessel for the project. Although the test vessel was in the North Sea, Wartsila conducted the remote control navigating its office located in San Diego, California, 8,000 km (5,000 miles) away.

      Wartsila’s DP unit developed remote control capabilities in the early part of 2016, but this was the first test carried out on an offshore vessel. The vessel, the Highland Chieftain, is an 80-meter platform supply vessel already fitted with a Wartsila Nacos Platinum package for navigation, automation and DP systems, as well as a Wartsila 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.

      Wartsila carried out the test 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 group stated.

      “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 cybersecurity into consideration. This test provides a clear indication that we are well on the way to achieving this,” said Andrea Morgante, head of digital for Wartsila marine solutions.