North bound from Casablanca to Antwerp on a bulker last Tuesday morning (doing a Navigational Assessment) experienced my first Virtual Navigation Marks? I had read about them as an idea in SEAWAYS some time ago but these were the first and only ones I've experienced. They mark the east/west extremities of the Ushant TSS and look like red blobs on the ECDIS charts. For the Filipino navigators and Captain of the vessel they were the first that they had come across. There were the usual jokes about colliding with one on the TSS approaches and the comment that USHANT TRAFFIC CONTROL would probably report it to Port/Flag State as a collision!
The mind boggles just thinking of what Varley and Barrie Youde may have to say on the subject, but does stretch the imagination!
Augmented Reality is coming too
You make me out a luddite. I do not agree. I just appreciate more the 'host' lead developments rather than the 'parasite' lead developments. Had AIS been required of all ships then it might have been (might yet be) a general improvement coupled with universal and reputable introduction of ECDIS conventional radar might become unnecessary (SARAIS would be needed first, of course).
It may also be driven by a motive for improving both commerce and safety rather than just trying to deskill so that we may move onto a jungle where we have yet to shake new staff from the canopy.
Of course I want GPS. What I do not want is to be entirely dependent on external services for my sea safety without a skilled hambone operator and chronometer to competently provide redundancy (if not to the same accuracy) in the event of those external services being withdrawn. Perhaps not quite as far as carrying lunar distance skill but something self contained - can that be too much? May I repeat?
Since shortly after Admiral Shovell
Had his final bit of trouble
Science and art, in rare embrace
Joined ‘find the Longitude when roaming’ race
Both front runners did agree
That, once a ship had left the quay
The method that they hoped to introduce
Must death in deadly reckoning reduce
The ship must ‘know’ the subdivided shipboard hour
Compared with that at Flamsteed’s tower
The argument that flared is easy to describe
If skewed by recent docudrama diatribe
Should the time be TOLD afresh by observation?
Or KEPT, once set at distant drop-ball station?
The learned Maskelyne was put against (perhaps a fiction)
The self-schooled horological technician
The popular mythology is that Harrison won the race
His watch, once set to Greenwich, onboard kept its pace
But Chipping Barnet’s Curate’s method proved the cooler
‘cos then the Deck watch costeth many mullah
So this odd couple both served sailors’ safety well
A thought on which I hope you’ll dwell
Both Harrison AND the Reverend Nevil
Strove hard to keep us out of peril
When manufacturing had rendered ownership less tougher
Chronometers were found aboard the humblest puffer
The Lunar Distance Method – half that Georgian dream
Faded as the sail gave way to steam
And then came that damn-ed electrician
Linking Morse to Hertzian emission
Boffins soon added to the mix
Some clever methods to position fix
DF, now far too passe
For the youngster to think classy
But in the day of Messr B and Tosi
Most assumed it had a future rosy
So fashion, tacking ‘electronics’ to our place and times
Assigns celestial navigation’s fate to Maskelyne’s
We’ll know the sextant only from public glass display
Until, like time itself, to off- site storage it falls prey
All those Failure Modes we’ve learned by practising that art
(With ham bone, almanac and chart)
Are lost, of value: none.
New interesting times have now begun.
Still, here on Royal Majesty I eat my ‘allocated’ scoff
Before my post retirement cruise sets off
Amazing is the quiet as she unmoors and goes about
You’d ALMOST hear an aerial plug fall out.
Chris, You are very welcome and I am very flattered. David V
To Mr Varley I doff my hat.
He summarises matters that
Exceed all learning ever mine,
Since Galileo, Maskelyne…… etc!
My apologies, Chris, - Any familiarity of mine with electronic navigation came to its end in 1988.
As to ECDIS?:-
Early Closing Day Is Saturday?
Every Convivial Drink is Special?
EC Directives Invite Screams?
Has anybody yet solved the problem of what happens when the electrics pack up?
Speaking of Ushant, I have a vivid recollection of boarding a small Danish ship off Point Lynas one winter morning - and learning that she had lost all of her electronic navigation equipment and her magnetic compass too, heading north in a violent Biscay storm. She had come from Punta Arenas, of all places. A thing which did survive was his radio reception - and a key aid to navigation became the weather forecaste. The master's own experience of reading the sea and sky (and matching it up to the forecaste weather) were enough to enable him to find his way up St George's Channel. We dismiss the Mark-one Eyeball at our own peril!
Thanks Barrie. Perhaps it did need another airing.
Although I have seen and been allowed to do little, elegant simplicity and redundancy can deal with the occasional absence of electricity. I continue to prophesy that it will be the presence of huge electricity rather than its absence that will cripple.
Somewhere I should have Brian French's telex from Al Farabi under way PG to Japan "By the light of the Aldis Lamp I can see the DF loops dangling from the mast.....". All the coms kit was fried except for the JRC JUE 35 Inmarsat A and one VHF. In those days we had not got round to interconnecting everything, with copper, to lightning conductors on the mast (sorry, aerials on the mast) and nor did we have camshaftless engines that simply cannot be jury rigged to do without their silcon implants and IAS systems without which man and machine would have great difference interfacing. There is virtually nothing electronic that is not interconnected one way or another.
I am not sitting hear casting spells to conjure lightning to prove my point. There is often no comfort at all in knowing that "I told you so".
Of course, nowadays rather than congratulating the Master on superb seamanship it would become a matter for Port State Control ensuring that the vessel did not move until all was rectified!!
The master's feat on that occasion also underlines the value of paper charts - and lighthouses - all fast disappearing!
For my own part, I was only ever on my own patch!
Can`t belong before some company pushes for an ocean passage on a crewless vessel.
After the dust had settled we did a rudimentary compass swing using a nearby island and also then found the gyro had a 10 degree or so error and off we set to Singapore. The company didn't know what was going on until we managed to get into mobile phone range, but the lads did very well in those very congested waters and the TSS around Horsburgh light with no radar, GPS etc, doing everything in man-u-matic fashion as we used to do. The Leckie and Chief did some heroic work trying to bodge some of the kit back into action, but we made the decision to get to port whilst the getting was good rather than drift around in the hope some of it might be fixable given time.
Alas even in the intervening decade or so we as an industry have de-skilled heavily and I wonder if such a thing would be possible today. Then we at least still had paper charts and the ability to use them, so no GPS feed/lack of an electronic chart presented no great drama.
P.S. For Callpor: what exactly is a navigational assessment? My Marine Manager (formerly called a Superintendent) is making noises that we'll be starting them soon, however this is a bloke who spent only 9 years at sea, never got higher than 2nd mate and yet is somehow qualified to ajudge my competence and indeed completes my annual appraisal!
Not quite Titanic 2 but closer than comfortable.
Upmast transceivers? (Al Farabi's were not but one ATU motor was still burned. The other quickly restored with a new magnetron).
Gyro. Perhaps GPS connected for speed and latitude correction? If not perhaps back through AIS to which it will have fed (which route will now connect the main engine and steering controls).
Some of this is simply obstinacy. Data requiring aerials could be stopped on the bridge and a fibre optic highway engineered either as a bridge to copper network (if network there must be) or switches on each level connected to a fibre 'backbone' - much if it available 'off the shelf' and needing no marinization and already EC marked if not wheelmarked. The bridge will still be zappable but you should still be able to do what you did. A Sat C with dual aerials mounted either side and low down would still meet GMDSS listing/pitching requirements but be far less vulnerable to lightning.
Another interesting episode was about 9 years ago on a Ro-Ro. We had a BNWAS which was wired into the radars, autopilot, telegraph, electronic chart etc so that should any of those be touched it would reset the alarm rather than having to manually press the button every 12 minutes. The entire bridge outfit was by SAM of Hamburg.
This had been running fine for years but one day there was an electrical spike/surge which fried the motherboards on the radars, electronic charts and autopilot. Thankfully it happened just off the Isle of Wight whilst inbound for Southampton, so into hand steering and an hour later we were alongside.
Navigational Assessments, although carried-out by some companies for several decades, really came to the fore with their requirement in the Tanker Management and Self Assessment (TMSA) guidelines introduced by the Oil Companies International Marine Forum in 2004. In the Navigation element there were requirements for Master's Audits of Navigation, Company Superintendents Navigational Assessments and Navigational Assessments by qualified Independent Auditors. I got involved in 2004 as an Independent Auditor and amongst other marine consultancy work have since carried out about 40+ short voyages assessing the navigational practices on my clients vessels. In the meantime all sectors of the industry have been pressured to formally assess the Navigational practices on their vessels. The Nautical Institute published some guidelines about 5 years ago and then followed-up by running training courses to accredit Navigational assessors in the best practices to adopt. OCIMF published guidelines last year and theremay be others. Navigational Assessments are now a substantial consultancy activity for experienced ex Masters. (Not for ex Second Mates with only 9 years seagoing experience!).
Hope that helps?
That's one I had not thought of but I suggest that fibre would have been more suitable for that too.
Not a great believer in spikes and surges. Thyristor 'Crowbars' and varistors were standard defences. I have to say that a phase to neutral fault fried quite a lot of my kit at home on the other two phases but not the sort of kit that would have been approvable seawise. We did go for some cheapo Italian radars that could not survive the overvoltage WRT earth that a network earth subtended - varistors vapourised as arranged to clip each pole against the earth and not across the supply - provided isolating trasnformers (as we did for some domestic kit with switched mode supplies which 'put' a 'phantom' earth on the domestic supply.
Quite a lot of opinion built into OCIMF. Radars must be interswitched thereby ensuring interconnective route for total loss - also no requirement for SMS to mandate that the bridge prodecures accounted for any degradation in performance when and if operating interswitched (such as inappropriate PRF and length if master and slave on different ranges). Interswitching was developed for one purpose only - so the technician could quickly narrow down a fault nothing whatsoever to do with the operator and precious little to add redundancy.
Rain performance of a modern 3 cm radar is vastly better than of old, circular polarisation might even allow equality with 10 cm with superior definition at the same time. I had no qualms of retrofitting two X band radars when the regulations were seen on the horizon. SOLAS did NOT mandate S band for performance (although for rain/precipitation we are all aware that it is superior) but because the ITU were considering reallocation of the band to mobile telephones and shore microwave links Politics not physics. Almost universal but not optimum practice is also to run the S band for ARPA. In most conditions (and taking as read the EFFECTIVE length of the aerials) X band definition will allow the ARPA better accuracy.
Losing the magic, whether it be power or GNSS signals applies to all vessls, so how they will manage to vitually navigate with virtual navigation marks remains to be seen?
Interesting about interswitching Chris. For a time I favoured fitting Sharpeye and sperry. Now solid state S band is more widespread I expect that I could find a pair where the reliability of one and the availability of support for the other would have been acceptable under one badge. I also guess that the charterers have readied themselves for the acceptance that the radar 'head' and indication are considered as independent entities - of course relying, probably, on one interconnecting network! I also imagine that vessels that could have still had two X bands by grandfather clauses have aged out of the world fleet so specifying an X and an S is unnecessary.
They also serve, who only told you so.
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