NYK Line launches bridge concept to improve safety

NYK Line’s newly designed bridge concept aims to reduce accidents. Credit: NYK Line
NYK Line’s newly designed bridge concept aims to reduce accidents. Credit: NYK Line

Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK Line) has created a concept for a new type of ship’s bridge that is aimed at reducing the number of accidents.

Named the Integrated information and bridge system, the space and nautical instruments have been optimally and ergonomically arranged and make use of the Internet-of-Things aspects of instruments to improve the safety and efficiency of vessel operation.

The concept is being implemented on a post-Panamax container ship that NYK Line has deployed to Ocean Network Express, a pan-Japanese liner operator that involves NYK Line, Mitsui OSK Lines, and “K” Line.

It has been acknowledged that human errors, such as misjudgment and misrecognition, are the most common cause of marine accidents. Fatigue in officers, who operate ships in three shifts a day, is also a factor.

The bridge system was developed after 11 years of study conducted by NYK Line with navigation equipment makers and shipbuilders.

Generally, various nautical instruments and manoeuvring equipment are located independently, so officers must move around the bridge to gather data and they must navigate the vessel while standing.

The new concept, however, uses an integrated navigation console with seats. The console is about a third of the size smaller than a conventional one and allows officers to check essential navigational information and navigate the vessel simultaneously. A seat helps officers to better understand the situation around the ship.

A joystick-type autopilot system has been adopted to better avoid collisions and help sedentary officers to easily manoeuvre the vessel. A mini manual wheel has been installed on the console for steering in an emergency, taking safety into consideration.

The new bridge is equipped with larger windows, and the gap between the windows has been minimised to reduce dead-visibility angles. The bridge shape has been optimised to facilitate clear sight from a sitting position. The layout is enhanced to improve the work environment and reduce weariness during navigational watches. At the bridge wing, a narrow walkway extends outward from both sides of a pilothouse, enabling the ship to be manoeuvred for entering and departing harbours and berthing and unberthing operation. This wing takes advantage of large windows and floor windows and is equipped with an integrated control stand that can remotely control the main propulsion, rudder, and bow thruster. A multifunction display, a workstation that can conduct some tasks at the same time, such as checking and operating navigational information, the radar, and ECDIS (Electronic Chart Display and Information System) are also located on the wings.

NYK Line and equipment makers MTI and Japan Radio have also developed a navigation support tool to improve bridge resource management, a method for preventing accidents in the event of human error or mechanical failure. The tool makes briefings among the officers and the pilot more efficient.

Moving forward, NYK Line also plans to install the new bridge on pure car and truck carriers and crude oil tankers and is considering installation on other vessel types. NYK Line plans to make use of this innovation as the company looks ahead to manned autonomous ships.

“We will continue to boost digitalisation by making use of the group’s operational expertise to realise safer and more efficient operations and create new value,” NYK Line said.