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Satellite-Derived Bathymetry-based Chart Production and the impact on voyage planning for improved prevention of maritime accidents

An article by Friedhelm Moggert-Kägeler, Head of Product Management at SevenCs GmbH

SevenCs has developed a Voyage Planning System that is capable of integrating Satellite-Derived Bathymetry. Mariners only have to specify the voyage details that are related to departure/destination and the vessel parameters. Then they send off a voyage plan request. The system calculates the optimal route based on depth and other information e.g. weather data. A complete voyage plan proposal is then returned to the ship along with updated charts ready for import into the onboard ECDIS system. In waters where SDB data is available it can contribute to the route optimization process. This is of particular use where quality of existing ENC data is poor. The project results were presented at the 2nd MarSat workshop.

Moreover, SevenCs presented the results of an analysis of the MARINE SAFETY INVESTIGATION REPORT on the grounding of the container ship Kea Trader. On its way from Papeete, Tahiti to Noumea, New Caledonia the ship hit a reef July 12th 2017. The fact that no accurate depth information was available contributed to the accident. SevenCs requested SDB data for the area of the accident, processed it, and created an electronic chart. The goal of the exercise was to find out if SDB data could have helped to avoid the accident in case it had been available at the time of the grounding.

To answer this question the resulting SDB chart was superimposed over the official ENC data.

Figure 3, official ENC of the area
Figure 3, official ENC of the area

Figure 4, SDB chart superimposed

Immediately the route check algorithms generated an alarm and highlighted the reef area.

Conclusions are that SDB can help to improve depth information in charts in SDB-suitable waters especially where quality of ENC data is poor. SDB can contribute to voyage optimization and can help to increase overall awareness.

So far areas for SDB tests have been selected randomly. As a next step the systematic definition of suitable areas should be conducted under consideration of economic aspects (e.g. main shipping routes).