Remote vessel control centre opens in Germany

Belgian autonomous shipping firm SEAFAR reports that it has set up its first Remote Operations Center in Germany, in conjunction with project partners HGK Shipping and Reederei Deymann.

The Remote Operations Center enables captains to navigate vessels on inland waterways remotely from land. HGK Shipping and Reederei Deymann have together equipped five vessels with the SEAFAR system for the project.

The partners are working with public authorities that have granted permits for test operations in the lower Rhine area. The group will collaborate to identify other navigation areas that could also be suitable to apply the system, such as the north-west German canal network, the Mittelland Canal, and other sections of the river Rhine.

The technology, which requires fewer crew members working on board for a vessel to operate, has already been deployed on inland waterway vessels in Belgium and the Netherlands, some of which can now be controlled from the new facility in Duisburg-Ruhrort.

“As a leading inland waterway shipping company in Europe, we view ourselves as a driving force for the development of this sector at all times – in constructing new, resource-saving vessels and in also making use of the innovative solutions that are being introduced into everyday life as part of the enormous trend towards digitalisation,” said Steffen Bauer, CEO of HGK Shipping.

“If we’re going to reach ambitious climate protection goals during the next few years and decades, this will only be possible with inland waterway shipping and switching goods traffic to the waterways.”

The Remote Operations Center in Duisburg currently has three positions available for captains, called ROC operators, to remotely control vessels, and one traffic controller that will monitor overall vessel movements.

The remote-control technology has been built to resemble a wheelhouse, connecting with a range of onboard cameras to allow the captain to maintain awareness as if they were operating on the water.

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Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He also serves as Chairman of the Smart Maritime Council. Rob has worked in the maritime technology sector since 2005, managing editorial for a range of leading publications in the transport and logistics sector. Get in touch by email by clicking here, or on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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