Class approval granted to remove onboard chief engineer

Kongsberg Maritime reports that it has received Approval in Principle from classification society DNV to enable the role of the Chief Engineer to be transferred from a ship to a shore-based control centre, to support the introduction of uncrewed vessel operations.

The proposed set-up would allow the Chief Engineer to be located at a Remote Operations Centre (ROC) where their duties can be carried out from a desk-based workstation, instead of onboard the vessel.

Such a system is set to be tested in the operation of three vessels: the world’s first fully electric container vessel Yara Birkeland, and a pair of electric barges operated by Norwegian grocery retailer ASKO, named Marit and Therese. From the ROC workstation, the Chief Engineer will be able to monitor and control systems including the power management system, ballast water system and deck machinery on each of the ships.

The partners said that they expect full approval for what’s known as ‘Chief-to-Shore’ functionality to be granted later this year once a period of testing has taken place, overseen by DNV and the Norwegian Maritime Authority.

“The journey towards autonomous, and uncrewed operation of vessels is defined by a set of increments. To get there, we must take each step in-turn and prove the functionality and value before moving to the next,” said Pål André Eriksen, Kongsberg Maritime, SVP Remote & Autonomous Solutions.

“The role of Chief Engineer is one which already involves a lot of monitoring of automation and control systems on board. For this trial, moving this functionality to the shore-based ROC will see one person now managing a range of systems across three vessels, rather than one.”

“This is a significant and exciting realisation, and we’re pleased to have received Approval in Principle from DNV. There has been great collaboration from Yara, ASKO, DNV and the Norwegian Maritime Authority, to enable this functionality to be switched from ship to shore, and we look forward to testing this latest innovative approach to transforming vessel operations.”

Testing will be conducted this summer and will involve the shore-based technician managing a number of tasks remotely from shore. From the ROC, an ‘aggregated view’ of the three vessels will be visible at all times, and if an issue arises or an intervention is required on one of the vessels, the system will manually switch to ‘high attention mode’ to focus operator attention where support is needed.

Alongside the Chief Engineer, other crew members, such as the Master and Navigator, will remain on the vessels throughout the tests, and in constant contact through radio and CCTV until full approval of the Chief-to-Shore functionality has been granted.

During the qualification process Kongsberg Maritime will be following DNV’s class guidelines for Autonomous and Remotely Operated Ships (DNV-CG-0294) and Remote Engineering Monitoring and Control Systems (REMC), prior to full approval being granted.

The ROC in Horten, Norway, is a facility managed by Massterly, a joint venture between Kongsberg Maritime and Wilhelmsen.

Share this story

About the Author

Picture of Rob O'Dwyer
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.

Further Reading

News Archive