Technology group Wärtsilä has developed a system that will ease a vessel’s approach and entrance into waterway locks. The system has been developed in response to the increasing size of vessels operating on the waterways of the St Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes of Canada and the United States.
Wärtsilä has developed the system in co-operation with Canada-based CSL Group, which will be the first to deploy the technology, on board CSL St Laurent, a 22,600 gt Trillium-class bulk carrier.
When entering the locks along the seaway, the clearance for larger vessels is minimal, and the lock entry itself has become increasingly difficult. The lock entry assist system uses high-performance global navigation satellite systems to measure the ship’s position to centimetre accuracy as it enters the lock. Speed adaptive controls, together with allocation of the thruster and rudder, ensures the vessel enters the lock in a consistent manner with each approach, while minimising the influence of external forces from wind and current.
During the entry, the system automatically controls the vessel’s lateral position and heading, allowing the operator to focus on controlling the speed. A customised touchscreen is being developed to simplify the operation and improve situational awareness.
Wärtsilä said the system would help avoid damage to the ship and the lock walls, making operations safer, faster, and more efficient.
Frédéric Jauvin, vice-president for global technical services at CSL, said, “CSL is committed to working with qualified partners and regulatory agencies to improve operational safety and efficiency for vessels sailing the St Lawrence Seaway and Great Lakes system. We believe that modern technology supports this ambition, and Wärtsilä’s lock entry assist system represents a positive step forward for us and for the industry as a whole.”