SEDNA — Safe maritime operations under extreme conditions: the Arctic case

SEDNA (“Safe maritime operations under extreme conditions: the Arctic case”) is a research project that is developing an innovative and integrated risk-based approach to safe Arctic navigation, ship design and operation. SEDNA has a global consortium, with 13 partners from 6 different countries, including China, and will run for three years from June 2017.

Ships and their crews operating in the Arctic face a number of significant safety challenges. To address these safety challenges, AHO will contribute to develop the Safe Arctic Bridge, a human-centred operational environment for the ice-going ship bridge.

KV-Svalbard operating in Arctic waters. Image captured during field study February 2018. Photo: AHO.

Lack of accurate navigational information

Limitations in navigation technology, such as creeping compass errors and variable GNSS positioning errors, cause bridge teams with limited Arctic experience to be at risk of making potentially dangerous misjudgments and errors. The consequences can be fatal.

The presence of ice has a major impact on the safety, operability and efficiency of Arctic operations and navigation. Existing and operational research sea ice forecasting products are not fit-for-purpose for use on board vessels and have not been adequately verified, validated and optimized for use operationally in strategic ice management. Moreover, there is no weather routing system available to consider the optimum operation of ships under ice conditions.

Generic bridge designs are unsuited for the region

Vessels operating in the Arctic have bridges that are largely the same in layout and equipment as vessels operating elsewhere. As a consequence, they are not fit for purpose for Arctic operations.

Operating a ship in Arctic waters is complex and hazardous; the difficulties of navigating a vessel in the harsh environment of the Arctic, with extreme weather and the presence of ice, put the crew under severe stress.

Being overwhelmed by information from many different sources exacerbates this experience leading to poor situational awareness and decision making. Approximately 60% of all accidents are related to navigation, and these continue to occur despite the development and availability of technologies that aim to improve situational awareness and decision making alone.

When focusing on the bridge, the key challenge is how to improve the human-system interface and provide a mechanism to successfully manage the large and varied information layers that ships’ crews are exposed to.

Crew lack specialist Arctic navigation knowledge

More and more vessels navigating in Arctic waters are not crewed by bridge teams with much, if any, Arctic navigation experience. Arctic navigation is a highly specialised and complex activity that demands particular skillsets from bridge crews to be safe. Inexperienced bridge teams without Arctic specific knowledge and training significantly increase the risk profile for vessels operating in the Arctic.

Developing a Safe Arctic Bridge

To address these safety challenges, AHO will contribute to develop the Safe Arctic Bridge, a human-centred operational environment for the ice-going ship bridge.

AHO will use augmented reality technology to provide improved situational awareness and decision making. At the same time, we will enable integration with new key information layers developed by the project using innovative big data management techniques.

Stay tuned!