Navigation gear makers respond to market needs

Furuno’s Voyager Bridge System’s multifunction workstations.
Furuno’s Voyager Bridge System’s multifunction workstations.
Furuno’s Voyager Bridge System’s multifunction workstations.

The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Chapter V, Regulation 19 lays out the mandatory rules that establish the requirements for shipboard navigation systems and equipment.

The rules are specific and form a critical baseline for safe navigation and is one of the primary factors driving the advances in the development of the latest in navigational gear.   

For example, the carriage of an operational speed log is a mandatory requirement under the rules, and any defects or breakdowns of equipment must be recorded in the vessel’s official log, and also reported under the SMS requirements to the company via the Designated Person Ashore.

If the rules are not followed, the validity of the vessel’s Safety Equipment Certificate is put in question, and the appropriate flag state and classification societies are informed. 

At the heart of compliance is the goal of establishing a condition of peak situational awareness and safety that mariners can count on as easily and reliably as possible – and at an affordable cost.  

That goal has created a highly competitive market with equipment developers and manufacturers striving to deliver the tools that not only determine speed, position, and course relative to other vessels, as well as objects on or below the surface, but can overlap in both function and mission.

Raymarine’s Scalable Integrated Navigation System, Gen 2 system was designed specifically for the U.S. Coast Guard.
Raymarine’s Scalable Integrated Navigation System, Gen 2 system was designed specifically for the U.S. Coast Guard.

Teledyne FLIR, for example, recently unveiled its new Raymarine Pathfinder Category II/III SOLAS-approved radar system.

“Up until now we have played only in the non-SOLAS space with our offerings,” said Teledyne FLIR’s Americas Marketing Manager, Jim McGowan.

The new system, he added, “is a first for Raymarine. We’re very excited to have a brand-new system for workboats, OSVs, coastal shipping, and superyacht applications.”  

Pathfinder is a solid-state – no magnetron – radar that utilizes CHIRP pulse compression technology. The scanner is a 6-foot, 110-watt, x-band transmitter based on the company’s well-established Cyclone Pro radar platform.

Fan-less and lightweight, the scanner has a single thin power/data cable, is available in several screen sizes, and runs on 12- or 24-Volt DC power. “We expect this will be a real disruptor due to its high performance, easy installation, and low maintenance design,” said McGowan.

Raymarine has also partnered with Avikus, a division of HD Hyundai, in developing autonomous vessel technology for high-seas shipping featuring a system that utilizes a wide range of sensors including cameras with AI capability, light detection and ranging, radar, solid-state motion sensing gyros, and more.

Now, through the Avikus brand, the partnership is initially targeting the recreational and yachting markets with the ultimate goal of introducing the technology for use on small workboats and other commercial vessels in the near future, McGowan says. 

Across both their Raymarine and FLIR brands, McGowan is also seeing a high adoption rate of the company’s navigation technology and cameras for use onboard Unmanned Surface Vessels (USVs).  

Raymarine’s Quantum and Cyclone-series radars and FLIR’s M-Series marine cameras “offer easy integration with many of the remote-control and remote-monitoring networks that command these vessels for a variety of missions, including environmental monitoring, surveying, security and more,” said McGowan.  

“We offer a software developers kit (SDK) for the radar products that make it easy for a software engineer to take advantage of all the capabilities these radars offer,” he said. 

“The FLIR marine cameras all support video-over-IP and industry-standard controls for pan, tilt, zoom and menu access making them easy to integrate and we offer models with visible, thermal, or dual payloads for all-weather service.” 

Raymarine currently supplies its Scalable Integrated Navigation System, Gen 2 (SINS-2) system to a number of federal, state, and local law enforcement and first-responder agencies.

The system was designed specifically for the U.S. Coast Guard, which currently provides its cutters with detailed GPS and electronic charting, radar, sonar, and secure digital messaging based on the company’s off-the-shelf Axiom family of multifunction chart plotter displays. 

In addition, the encrypted messaging component is carried on the standard AIS network allowing ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore messaging, intelligence sharing, tasking, status reporting, and over-the-air reception of search-and-rescue patterns.  

Nearly all of the technology developed for this market is COTS or “commercial-off-the-shelf” with most of its capabilities available to any vessel running Raymarine electronic systems, said McGowan. 

Meanwhile, at Furuno USA Inc., operators of smaller vessels “are opting for commercial Solid-State X-Band Radars due to the long-term cost savings and improved performance,” according to Deep Sea Product Manager, Bill Haynes. 

In addition, the company’s Voyager bridge system is growing in popularity as it “offers multifunction workstations with seamless display of radar/chart radar, ECDIS, as well as conning and alert management system data.” 

Common responsibilities “such as route planning, navigation status monitoring, log-keeping, alarm awareness, and day-to-day chart management are made easy through common workstation layout and redundancy of display and control,” the company said. 

The system “remains one of the only ways to record and reply to incidents safely and reliably. Plus, the data that is recorded could save a company from huge settlements and or fines,” said Furuno USA’s Haynes.

Si-Tex’s “new-for-2023” Polaris Charts cartography platform.
Si-Tex’s “new-for-2023” Polaris Charts
cartography platform.

New York-based Si-Tex Marine Electronics’ most recent product is Polaris Charts, a “new-for-2023” cartography platform developed to complement the company’s existing NavPro Series MFDs,” according to Vice President of Sales and Marketing Allen Schneider. 

Polaris Charts provide bottom contour data and high-resolution spot soundings, as well as tide and current information and “also come bundled with SI-TEX’s NavPro 900C/F, and NavPro 1200C/F MFDs,” said Schneider, adding that the platform is also expected to be compatible with future Si-Tex chart plotters and MFD systems.   

Ray Novak, senior sales manager at Icom America Inc., said his company has nothing brand new to announce at the moment, but they are still pleased to be marketing two strong products, the MA-510TR and the MR-1010R2.

The MA-510TR is a Class B 2W AIS transponder, a dual-channel receiver that can handle both Class A and Class B signals simultaneously. 

It has built-in GPS navigation function to guide users to waypoints or AIS targets. The MR-1010R2 is a 4KW Color LCD radar with a maximum range of 36 NM, an output of 4 kW, a 2-foot radome scanner, and a 10.4-inch color TFT LCD. 

Kongsberg’s MGC gyrocompass and motion sensor.
Kongsberg’s MGC gyrocompass and motion sensor.

Kongsberg, the Norwegian firm known particularly for its breakthrough work in dynamic positioning technology for vessels, also has broad offerings in navigation systems. 

They include GNSS compass, motion, and position sensors; GNSS-based relative position sensors; GNSS/DGNSS position and GPS navigation sensors; laser-based relative position sensors; microwave-based relative position sensors; and non-differential position sensors. 

Kongsberg’s MGC gyrocompass series, for example, integrates the company’s Motion Reference Unit (MRU) with high-end gyro compass technology. It is strap-down based and includes three Ring Laser Gyros (RLG) and three linear accelerometers. The system can operate in Attitude and Heading Reference System (AHRS) mode and Inertial Navigation mode. 

According to the company, the MRU itself “is suitable for any maritime operation that requires attitude determination and motion compensation” and “is adaptable from small hydrographic vessels up to large vessels and installations.”

Its typical applications include motion compensation of single and multi-beam echo sounders; dynamic and hydro acoustic positioning; ship motion monitoring; ocean wave measurements; and antenna motion compensation and stabilization.