Seaspan deploys SmartDock autodocking on the first of two ferries

Written by Nick Blenkey
Ferry fitted with SmartDock autodocking tech

Photo: Seaspan

Canada’s Seaspan Ferries, which operates between Vancouver Island and the Canadian mainland, has just fitted the first of two vessels with the Wärtsilä ANCS SmartDock autodocking system.

Wärtsilä ANCS (Automation, Navigation & Control Systems) says that delivery of this first system “marks a significant step towards autonomous docking and undocking operations, making maritime activities safer and more efficient” and that the SmartDock system enables Seaspan to perform autonomous docking maneuvers even in challenging conditions, where currents reach up to two knots.

Wärtsilä ANCS’s scope of work, under a contract signed in 2021, includes providing the autonomous SmartDock system, including track development for autodocking, at Seaspan’s Tilbury, Delta mainland terminal and its Duke Point, Nanaimo, and and Swartz Bay, Victoria, terminals on Vancouver Island.

The SmartDock system employs an advanced UKF (Unscented Kalman Filter) estimator, combining sensor measurements from various sources, such as GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) and Wärtsilä ANCS’s laser sensor Cyscan AS, to calculate precise position and rate estimates of the vessel’s motion. These data are then compared to a preprogrammed ideal trajectory of the vessel, and the advanced controller allocates thrust and steering commands to ensure safe and consistent autonomous docking and undocking maneuvers.

The commissioning of the Seaspan Trader cargo ferry has just been completed, with the Seaspan Transporter cargo ferry scheduled to be commissioned in late 2023/early 2024.

“Wärtsilä ANCS is excited to continue supporting Seaspan and build on an already strong working relationship,” said Klaus Egeberg, director, dynamic positioning, at Wärtsilä ANCS. “We look forward to the potential implementation of the SmartDock product across some other vessels in Seaspan’s ferry fleet, further advancing the automation and efficiency of maritime operations.”

“Seaspan is proud to lead the charge in this technological advancement in vessel maneuvering,” said Alex Treharne, integration engineer, Seaspan.. The integration of Wärtsilä ANCS’s SmartDock system into Seaspan Trader exemplifies our unwavering commitment to excellence and innovation in maritime operations.”

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