Unique onboard training system wins prestigious dynamic positioning award

The ground-breaking ‘Onboard Training System' (OTS), developed by recently acquired Kongsberg Maritime company SMSC, won the prestigious Dynamic Positioning Award at the Offshore Support Journal Conference, Awards & Exhibition in London last week. The sophisticated system, which allows users to control a real vessel under DP, but within a simulated environment, was recognised by the award judges as a completely unique and positive new approach to Dynamic Positioning Operator (DPO) training.

With the OTS concept, the vessel is controlled in a normal manner by a deck officer on the bridge, either by the use of manual controls or by the use of Dynamic Positioning (DP). The vessel's motion and position in the virtual world is calculated based on input from the vessel's navigational aids (minimum GPS and Gyro) and shown on a dedicated screen. While the vessel is actually in safe, open waters, the virtual world can contain imaginary objects and installations (such as rigs, buoys, piers, etc.) shown on the screen. Using this setup, the DP operator can simulate approach to a platform or other installations, docking the ship at any port, navigating in narrow and constricted waters, and various other operations.

During training, the real DP system is live, so the vessel physically moves according to input, but the operator sees the results in the simulated visual scene. In this way, instructors can introduce any conditions or combination of targets, allowing them to create exercises that deliver real-life experience, with the flexibility to train on specific operations or areas of competence. The concept, which is already in use on several vessels, enables DPOs to understand how a vessel really responds to their commands, whilst interacting with virtual objects in a simulated environment, with the flexibility to introduce any tasks or conditions.

From the Offshore Support Journal Award ceremony. From left: Graham Harman, Operations Director Riviera Maritime Media - Knut Jarle Lysklett, Product Manager OTS, SMCS and Lars Einar Rosenhaug Bjørset, Global Customer Support, SMCS.

SMSC was nominated for the award by Simon Møkster shipping, who co-developed this unique take on DP training and simulation to ensure high competence across its workforce. Nils A. Liaaen at Simon Møkster Shipping commented; "We place a great emphasis on safety onboard all of our ships, and we see the correlation between relevant training and improved skills of our personnel. We are particularly looking for three things; familiarisation with equipment and vessel, ‘flight time' on DP, and practice on incidents like interruptions, system errors and so forth. We were keen to nominate SMSC for this award because the OTS meets these requirements with a very unique approach."

Onboard Training System concept drawing. Illustration: Headspin Production

Knut Jarle Lysklett, Project Manager OTS, SMSC added: "The OTS was up against strong competition on the shortlist so we are delighted to have been selected as the winner. The award reflects the depths of our collaboration with our existing clients; Simon Møkster Shipping, Solstad Shipping, Siem Offshore and GDF SUEZ, and the technical expertise of the SMSC team. As a new member of the Kongsberg Maritime family, we are looking forward to developing the OTS even further and contributing to the world-leading K-Sim simulator portfolio with new and unique solutions for offshore vessel training."

The Annual Offshore Support Journal Awards, taking place on the evening of February 3rd 2016, is one of the most anticipated events in the offshore support calendar. Each year more than 500 attendees from all sectors of the offshore business gather in London to celebrate the industry's best performances from the past year. The Dynamic Positioning Award is "awarded to the developer of an innovative product or DP system, or contractor responsible for an especially innovative application of DP on a project." The winner is voted for by the readers of Offshore Support Journal through internet-based reconciliation ahead of the conference. Nearly 100,000 votes were cast across the award categories in total.