Wärtsilä has partnered with US-based vessel operator Gulfmark Offshore to test a remote-control ship operation capability on an offshore vessel off the North Sea coast of Scotland.
The trial saw the vessel drive through a sequence of manoeuvres using a combination of dynamic positioning (DP) and manual joystick control operation.
Despite being situated in the North Sea for the duration of the test period, the ship was remotely controlled from the Wärtsilä office located 8,000km away in San Diego, California, US.
Gulfmark Offshore provided the vessel for the test procedure.
The test lasted for more than four hours and is expected to help Wärtsilä to further develop its Smart Marine capabilities, which involve connecting ‘smart’ vessels with ‘smart’ ports to enable the more efficient use of resources.
Wärtsilä Marine Solutions Digital head Andrea Morgante said: “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 cyber security into consideration.
“This test provides a clear indication that we are well on the way to achieving this. The fact that the ship was enabled for remote operation in only a few hours is a strong endorsement of Wärtsilä’s position at the forefront of marine technology development.
“At Wärtsilä, we are fully engaged in developing ‘intelligent’ vessels, since we consider such technologies to be vital to maintaining a profitable future for our customers.”
Wärtsilä also noted that the vessel was driven through a series of manoeuvres at both high and low speeds during the newly completed test.
The 80m platform supply vessel is equipped with a Wärtsilä Nacos Platinum package for navigation, automation and dynamic positioning systems, as well as a Wärtsilä drives solution.
Additional software was also integrated into the DP system on a temporary basis in order to transmit data over the vessel’s satellite link to the on-shore work station in California.
Standard bandwidth was used to conduct on-board satellite communication activities during the test.
Image: Gulfmark Offshore’s the ‘Highland Chieftain’ was the vessel used for the test. Photo: courtesy of Wärtsilä.