Kongsberg Maritime gains AiP for “Chief to Shore” functionality

Written by Nick Blenkey
Chief-to-Shore puts chief engineer in shoreside remote operating center

"Chief-to-Shore" functionality will see chief engineer role carried out from shoreside remote operating facility [Photo: Kongsberg]

Classification society DNV has granted Kongsberg Maritime its Approval in Principle for a “Chief to Shore” functionality that enables a key role to be transferred from a ship to a shore-based control center, marking a significant step in the journey towards uncrewed vessel operations. The move will enable the role of chief engineer to be located in a remote operations center (ROC), where the duties can be carried out from a desk-based workstation, instead of onboard a vessel.

From the workstation, the chief engineer will be able to monitor and control systems including the power management system, ballast water system and deck machinery on three vessels. They are the world’s first fully electric container vessel Yara Birkeland; and the electric “sea drone” freight ferries Marit and Therese operated by Norwegian grocery retailer ASKO,.

Full approval for the Chief-to-Shore functionality is expected to be granted later this year, once a period of testing has taken place, overseen by DNV and the Norwegian Maritime Authority.

Kongsberg says that the development is a step that can help address the industry-wide shortage of seafarers and make vessel operations safer and more efficient.

“The journey towards autonomous, and uncrewed operation of vessels is defined by a set of increments,” said Pål André Eriksen, SVP remote & autonomous solutions at Kongsberg Maritime. “To get there, we must take each step in-turn and prove the functionality and value before moving to the next. The role of chief engineer is one that already involves a lot of monitoring of automation and control systems on board. For this trial, moving this functionality to the shore-based ROC will see one person now managing a range of systems across three vessels, rather than one.”

“This is a significant and exciting realiszation, and we’re pleased to have received Approval in Principle from DNV,” Eriksen continued. “There has been great collaboration from Yara, ASKO, DNV and the Norwegian Maritime Authority, to enable this functionality to be switched from ship to shore, and we look forward to testing this latest innovative approach to transforming vessel operations.”

“Developing new vessel systems that will support autonomous and remote operation of vessels is a challenging task, and we are happy that Kongsberg Maritime has decided team up with DNV to ensure that safety of the new solution is thoroughly verified,” says Jarle Coll Blomhoff, head of DNV’s digital ship systems section. “Remote machinery support is a first natural step on the path to autonomy as the engineering functions onboard a vessel are in many ways already automated. We believe this is a key step for Kongsberg Maritime’s pathway to fully autonomous vessels, but also a technology that could contribute to a safer and more efficient world fleet by providing remote support for maintenance, troubleshooting as well as expertise on new alternative fuels that may be hard to get onboard every vessel.”

Testing will be conducted this summer and will involve the shore-based technician managing a number of tasks on three vessels, all managed remotely from shore. From the ROC, an “aggregated view” of the three vessels will be visible at all times, and if an issue arises or an intervention is required on one of the vessels, the system will manually switch to “high attention mode,” focusing operator attention where support is needed.

Other crew members, such as the master and navigator, will remain on the vessels throughout the tests, and in constant contact with the chief engineer through radio and CCTV connections, until full approval of the Chief-to-Shore functionality has been granted.

During the qualification process Kongsberg Maritime will be following DNV’s class guidelines for autonomous and remotely operated ships (DNV-CG-0294) and remote engineering monitoring and control systems (REMC), prior to full approval being granted.

The ROC in Horten, Norway, is a facility manged by Massterly, a joint venture between Kongsberg Maritime and Wilhelmsen. The ROC is currently pioneering new methods of operation for vessels equipped with remote and autonomous vessels and was recently expanded to five workstations to meet customer demand.

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