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One Plot Saving Lives

Thomas De Bondt

Imtech Marine is developing innovative solutions to assist navies and has recently launched its Damage Surveillance and Control Suite. This makes it much easier to deal with an incident onboard, vastly improving the situation awareness for the crew. Besides naval ships, the DSAC is suitable for several market segments.

The new DSAC supports the ‘internal battle’ when an incident has occurred. The crew needs to know the ships’ status as soon as possible. Efficient communications are essential.

Partnership with the Royal Netherlands Navy

Some might be familiar with the Fire Fighting and Damage Control (FFDC) electronic incident board introduced by Imtech Marine in 2011, which was developed together with the Royal Netherlands Navy. Working closely with navies ensures that the system functionality fully addresses the needs of the onboard incident teams. Developing the system with the Royal Netherlands Navy ensures all invaluable know-how from both sides is fed through into the development of the system.

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Naval references

Imtech Marine’s FFDC system is now installed on at least 10 vessels from four ship classes including the Netherlands and Belgium navies, such as the Karel Doorman Class Frigates, the Holland Class OPVs and the Joint Support Ship HNLMS Karel Doorman, and it will be implemented on the Landing Platform Dock HNLMS Rotterdam, which will be delivered in 2015.

The application has also been adapted to British standards for the Khareef Class Corvettes for the Royal Navy of Oman and it is also installed on the Milgem Class Corvettes (Turkish Navy), the Endurance Class Landing Ship Tank (Republic of Singapore Navy) La Combattante III (Hellenic Navy) and the Gawron Class Corvette from the Polish Navy. Besides this there is a lot of interest from other navies as they seek to reduce manning.

Integration of four applications

The new Damage Surveillance and Control Suite is built up out of four applications: an Electronic Incident Board (EIB), an Automated Advisory Functions (AAF), Resource, a Task & Capability Manager (RTCM) and the Ship Stability Calculator.

The EIB is formerly known as FFDC. AAF provides assistance for the operator by showing them the sequence of actions they need to make to deal with a specific situation. All the necessary actions are displayed on a single screen which can be found on several workstations throughout the ship. RTCM helps the crew when there is an incident by outlining what their role is onboard.

For example, the Ship Stability Calculator will show what the capabilities of the ship are in the event of an incident. Can it sail? With any water ingress, is stability affected? It monitors the tanks, internal and external leakages etc. and all this information is integrated into the DSAC Suite. The DSAC Suite provides a complete damage control solution.

Improving situation awareness

DSAC will improve the situation awareness; it essentially means that the crew can do the right things at a much earlier stage. Damage control is carried out more quickly, and with less communication and fewer faults. Miscommunication can be a significant problem when there is an incident onboard.

The crew needs to act as fast as they can - every second counts. It is noisy, hectic and there is often a lot of confusion. We have seen in training sessions, when three people manually plot on separate incident boards, this results in completely different information on all three boards!

DSAC helps improve the situation awareness on board. Rather than people running through the ship with pieces of paper, communicating through handhelds and microphones, they have two or three screens giving them the complete overview and a clear picture of what is going on. And crucially, this helps save lives.  

The DSAC system provides clear and unambiguous information on the status of the fire, smoke, NBC or flood incidents. There can then be a coordinated response and escape routes can be planned based on real-time status information.

For instance, with the introduction of CCTV cameras smoke can be seen and water mist activated. Before the introduction of the DSAC system, the incident team would have to find people and send them to the source of the fire. Now they can act quickly, prevent damage and importantly, it is much safer for the personnel.

By using electronic HMI and information distribution techniques, enabling all DSAC display stations to be synchronised with current status information, the size of the incident team can be reduced. As soon as information comes through there is 100% distribution of the same information on the bridge and engine room etc. Most ships have overview screens in two or three locations.

Without such a system, the crew has to put a lot of effort into communication and plotting, usually involving three people. Plotting and communicating takes up at least 20% of the time dealing with an incident. By using DSAC these three plotters can use their time for another task during the incident. Eventually, once navies are adapted to the application, the plotting role disappears entirely.

Imtech Marine is one of very few companies which can provide a large overview screen, being 1 m x 1m and on larger vessels such as the JSS, the vessel has four screens installed (2m x 2m).

Suitable for several maritime market segments

The system is ideally suited for installation on newbuild warships but can also be used to upgrade existing warships. As well as the system’s multiple configuration options making it suitable for all types of navy ships, it can also be customized for commercial vessels, or oil platforms, cruise vessels and even land-based installations such as fire stations etc.

By: Thomas de Bondt, Software Engineer Automation Jr.

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