The following is the text of a news release from Wartsila:
(HELSINKI, Finland) — The technology group Wartsila has taken a further step toward developing its "smart marine" capabilities by successfully testing the remote control of ship operations. The testing, which involved driving the vessel through a sequence of maneuvers using a combination of dynamic positioning (DP) and manual joystick control, was carried out 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, the remote control navigating was carried out from the Wartsila office located in San Diego, Calif., 5,000 miles away.
Wartsila's dynamic positioning 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, Highland Chieftain, is an 262-foot platform supply vessel (PSV) already fitted with a Wartsila Nacos Platinum package for navigation, automation and dynamic positioning 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.
Most importantly, the Wartsila testing was carried out 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 retrofitting of the DP software was completed within just 30 hours with Wartsila's modular upgradable system.
The successful test was conducted over an almost four-hour period during which time the vessel was driven through a series of maneuvers at both high and low speeds. All the test procedures carried out went as planned.
"Wartsila is committed to developing technologies that enable a 'smart marine' future. In the age of digitalization, the future 'smart marine' ecosystem will involve connecting 'smart' vessels with 'smart' ports to enable an even more efficient use of resources. It will also reduce the impact on climate while enhancing safety," said Roger Holm, president, Wartsila Marine Solutions.
It is anticipated that Wartsila's development of successful remote access to ships will also enable virtual service solutions to customers needing tuning or testing of their DP systems. Furthermore, this solution will be used for other pilot projects, such as automated docking procedures.
"At Gulfmark Offshore, we believe that it is important to embrace new technologies since they represent the future of our industry. If companies are to remain competitive they must look ahead and take advantage of the tremendous development work being done by companies such as Wartsila. For this reason, we are most happy to cooperate with Wartsila in this exciting project," said Ashley Robinson, senior vice president of operations for Gulfmark.
Wartsila earlier supplied three of Gulfmark Offshore's Highland series vessels with various products, systems and solutions, as well as DP systems to several other vessel series within the company's fleet.