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Increasing safety at sea

Maritime trends #2: Fleet Operation Centers

Taking inspiration from air travel, ships are increasingly calling on support from terra firma. Experts are helping captain and crew by means of digital navigation. 26 Costa Group cruise liners provide a prime example of what the technology is capable of.

Full steam ahead. The cruise liner is fast approaching port. But the captain soon realizes there is no room to dock. The passengers are forced to wait, and the ship is left wasting fuel – and money. This was once an everyday occurrence in the maritime industry. Now, however, fleet operation centers (FOCs) are able to anticipate such scenarios and warn the captain in advance. He or she can then reduce the vessel’s speed to ensure its timely arrival in port, thereby saving both oil and costs. This is especially important today, at a time when the market is consolidating and shipping companies find themselves under immense pressure to cut expenditure.

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Safer, more efficient, and better for the environment

The Costa Group relies on support from the mainland. Since late 2015, the Carnival Maritime marine service unit has received signals from 26 Costa cruise liners from Costa Crociere, Costa Asia, and AIDA Cruises. Experienced navigators monitor the shipping lanes from their station in Hamburg – 24 hours a day and in real time. This forms a constant connection between ship and land. If a vessel strays from the planned route, signals on a large screen alert control center personnel. The experts also keep an eye on weather conditions, mapping out alternative routes for ships they notice heading into stormy waters.

Onshore fleet operation centers help vessels to:

  • Observe the most stringent safety regulations
  • Reduce repair and maintenance costs
  • Maintain high energy efficiency and resource management standards

What does the future hold?

Market conditions are tough. Companies hoping to progress will have to remain steadfast in the face of an industry crisis and continue to improve their efficiency. A possible alternative to fleet operation centers are solutions that use ship data solely for the purposes of onshore inspection. Also in the pipeline are completely unmanned vessels navigated by algorithm from a central point. One thing is certain: a lot is set to change in the maritime industry. The value chain is undergoing significant alterations, too. An expert highlights these in the next part of our “Maritime Trends” series.

Article image – photographer: Thomas Stamer

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