National Geographic Quest is the first of two expedition vessels announced by the Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic Alliance. The vessel was delivered in the beginning of July, and has been built entirely for state-of-the-art expeditionary travel. It is now ready to bring adventurous passengers to remote and fascinating destinations in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.
To make sure that National Geographic Quest will always have the latest charts available on its expeditions, NAVTOR has equipped the vessel with a NavBox unit. Connected and fully integrated with the ship’s ECDIS, the innovative solution will ensure seamless, automatic distribution and updating of the expedition vessel’s ENC.
The NavBox will be working in conjunction with NAVTOR’s navigational management solution NavTracker. The service will enable synergy between the vessels and land-based teams, providing both the navigators on board and the ship management on shore with an easy way to track, report and manage vessel movement, chart usage and costs.
From steel to hull to ship
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCC), a renowned global leader in the cruise segment, has signed a deal with NAVTOR to install the innovative NavBox solution across its entire corporate fleet of 49 vessels. The deal, which spans the six different operating companies within RCC, will greatly simplify and enhance on-board navigational procedures, optimising efficiency, safety and compliance.
E-navigation specialist NAVTOR launched NavBox in 2013. The solution automatically downloads, distributes and updates all vessel navigational charts and publications - dramatically cutting administration time, while ensuring the very latest, compliant charts are always at hand.
NavBox, which complements NAVTOR’s range of established ENC-based services, is already proving popular with forward-thinking shipowners, with the RCC contract following on from recent fleet agreements with both DOF, EXMAR and Stolt Tankers.
“Royal Caribbean Cruises is a globally recognised and respected industry leader,” comments NAVTOR CEO, Tor Svanes. “The company is known for its commitment to excellence, safety, and driving innovation at sea. They continually strive for the best services and solutions and, in that respect, are an obvious partner for NAVTOR and NavBox.
“It is our mission to simplify tasks for navigators and enhance efficiency for shipowners. NavBox embodies this ambition. For RCC it will work in conjunction with our NavTracker service, which allows on-shore management to track vessel movement and have a full overview of chart usage and update history, to provide completely seamless, fully accountable and business efficient navigation services. We believe this really showcases the huge potential of e-navigation for today’s, and tomorrow’s, shipowners.”
The full extent of the agreement covers the delivery of all official digital charts and publications to RCC vessels across the brands Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, TUI Cruises, Pullmantur, Azamara Club Cruises and Skysea. This includes the soon to launch Symphony of the Seas, which will hold the title of the world’s largest cruise ship when it embarks on its maiden voyage on 21 April 2018.
Speaking of the decision to choose NavBox for RCC’s entire fleet, Paul Kingsbury, Manager of Nautical Assets, Safety, and Programs at Royal Caribbean Cruises, notes: “The benefits of this innovative concept across our portfolio of advanced vessels are compelling. We will now be able to drastically reduce our navigators’ administrative workloads, allowing them to focus on important operational tasks and optimal safety, while ensuring compliance with automatic updates.
“At the same time the synergy between our vessels and land-based teams will enable us to have a complete overview of fleet-wide operations and navigational needs. NavBox is another innovative development for a company that, as we know from working together for the past four years, is dedicated to driving forward e-navigation and adding value for its customers. We look forward to seeing its benefits across the fleet.”
With a big booth, strong team and a giant 84” touchscreen monitor, the stage was set for demonstrating NAVTOR’s products and services for the international maritime community at Nor-Shipping 2017.
The benefits of innovation and disruption
With Disruptive Sustainability as the main theme of the event, almost 1000 exhibitors and tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world found their way to Lillestrøm near Oslo in Norway. At NAVTOR’s booth the team had their hands full meeting customers, strategic partners and many other interested visitors who was eager to learn more about the firm.
“The maritime industry never stands still, and neither does NAVTOR,” comments NAVTOR CEO Tor Svanes. “Since the company was founded in 2011, disruptive technology have always been familiar territory for us, and the constant focus on innovation has resulted in a spectacular global growth. We started from nothing in 2011, and stand here today as a global leader in e-Navigation. This absolutely qualifies us as a disruptive company that has brought innovation with real benefits to the marketplace.”
NAVTOR CEO Tor Svanes together with Sean Crowley, Electrical & Automation Manager at Stolt Tankers, after the signing ceremony of a fleet agreement, which will see Stolt Tanker’s vessels equipped with NavBox. With NavBox on board the vessels, seamless automated distribution and updating of navigational data will eliminate time-consuming administration duties such as checking for updates and ordering licenses.
Launching NavStation 4.0
Nor-Shipping 2017 was also the launch of NavStation 4.0. Using the latest e-Navigation technology, and working closely with several shipping companies and maritime industry players, the new NavStation 4.0 has been developed to unlock more of the vast potential of e-Navigation by increasing efficiency and make life easier for navigators.
“The launch of NavStation 4.0 shows our dedication to applying the latest technology to take our products and services to the next level,” Svanes explains. “With an enhanced user experience and more critical voyage information easily available at the fingertips of navigators, the potential reduction of time spent on administrative task will result in significant savings of man-hours per vessel, which again will add up to real time and cost efficiency for the shipping companies.”
Big release: The software NavStation 4.0 was demonstrated on a big 84” touchscreen monitor at Nor-Shipping 2017. With all critical voyage information easily available at the fingertips, and an intuitive and user-friendly interface, navigators can take full advantage of the ultimate maritime route planning tool.
NAVTOR is continuing its global expansion with the news that the Norwegian e-Navigation specialist is opening its first base in the UK. The firm, which has rapidly built a leading position as a provider of advanced e-navigation technology and services, has recruited Richard Northover to lead the Somerset based office.
From left; NAVTOR Sales Director Børge Hetland, CEO and General Manager Tor A. Svanes and Manager NAVTOR UK Richard Northover
NAVTOR was established in 2011, launching its acclaimed ENC service to the market in 2012. Since that point the business has secured both a global customer base and footprint, with offices in its hometown of Egersund, Norway, as well as dedicated bases in St Petersburg, Russia, Singapore, Japan and Sweden.
The latest move is, according to NAVTOR CEO Tor Svanes, a natural step forward for the ambitious business.
“We have a core mission of simplifying tasks for navigators, enhancing safety, and delivering increased efficiency for owners and operators,” Svanes states. “This is an objective that, particularly given the current market conditions, has been very well received by customers worldwide.
“We already have a strong position in Europe, but see huge potential in the UK. This is, and has been for centuries, one of the world’s leading maritime nations, and we believe the demand for our unique technology and services is clear, strong and broad-based. The UK has always been on the chart for NAVTOR’s growth plans, and Richard is the right man to help us realize that business potential.”
Northover is a veteran of the maritime industry. After starting his career navigating and commanding commercial yachts, he took the role of UK and Ireland Sales and Marketing Manager at Brookes and Gatehouse, before moving on to ChartCo and then Kelvin Hughes as Regional Sales Manager. Here he developed an intimate understanding of delivering technical products and services tailored to individual customer needs. His most recent role was at the International Centre for ENCs (IC-ENC), where, as Commercial Manager, he helped grow market share, develop market-wide ENC licensing specifications, and cemented the strength of the brand within key industry segments.
“I’ve been working alongside and watching NAVTOR’s growth with interest for the past four years,” he comments. “Their ability to develop innovative technology to simplify tasks and meet market needs has created real stand out in the industry. In particular, the creation of NavStation, the world’s first digital chart table, and their market defining Pay As You Sail (PAYS) ENC service, convinced me that this was a team that was committed to maximizing the potential and benefits of e-navigation.”
“Their portfolio is second to none, and answers a clear market need here in the UK. I’m looking forward to spreading the NAVTOR name throughout the industry, creating awareness of their expertise, technology and the efficiencies – in terms of time, fuel and cost – they can enable for shipowners of every size and segment.”
NAVTOR’s ENC-based portfolio enables seamless access to, and updates of, the very latest digital charts, saving man-hours while slashing administration duties. Chart management is simplified with land-based teams, as well as those at sea, receiving an overview of all chart usage, while weather and route optimization options can help enhance safety and fuel efficiency, with typical optimizations delivering fuel savings of approximately 4%.
Key NAVTOR products include the NAVTOR ENC Service, compatible with all types of ECDIS and available on a subscription or PAYS basis, NavStation, NavTracker fleet management software, and NavBox – a new innovation that automatically downloads the latest navigational data without navigators having to check for updates.
At the turn of the millennium the concept of driverless cars was pure science fiction. Now they’re a fact, with pilot vehicles clocking up the miles in the US, while companies such as Google, Tesla and Uber refine their propositions, strategies and technology. Driverless trucks are already working within the mining industry, while driverless trains transport both people and raw materials in locations worldwide.
Why should shipping be any different? The simple answer is: it won’t.
The first steps forward
It is unlikely that these futuristic ships will sail off the drawing board and into our hearts. People need time to become accustomed to the idea of self-steering steel giants, while the industry must develop the right regulatory framework, undertake stringent testing, and establish consensus about the best way forward.
But these issues must be seen against the context of potential benefits. Smarter ships, empowered by data sharing and seamlessly connected to onshore teams, will optimise performance, reduce costs, lower emissions and, crucially, address the number one cause of maritime incidents and accidents – human error. The arguments in favour of autonomous ships are convincing enough for development to be already underway, with e-navigation as an essential part.
Charting the route
E-navigation is so much more than digital charts. Using data as a facilitator, it delivers real economic advantages for the maritime industry by connecting decision makers, driving efficiency, enhancing safety and optimising operations for vessels, fleets and entire businesses.
Autonomous vessels are a natural step forward for the e-navigation discipline, with connected, digitised ships that perform with optimal efficiency, safety and security. Using the latest digital innovations, ENCs and the ECDIS can be used as a base upon which layers of information and functionality can be built. Furthermore, the sharing of data between vessels, maritime authorities and office-based teams enables both insights and overviews that give owners and operators complete control. People and assets can now be more connected than ever before, and this is central to the development of autonomous vessels.
Driving maritime development
NAVTOR’s expertise in e-navigation and data sharing lead to the company’s involvement in ENABLE, an EU-funded project that aims to prove, verify and validate the safety of autonomous vehicles of every type. NAVTOR has been enlisted to represent the maritime industry. During the project NAVTOR will investigate the concept of ‘shore-based bridges’ and test the validity of the software element of a remote bridge concept. Built on continuous data sharing between vessels and land, the project aim to transfer key navigation functions from the crew on board to office-based teams. In other words, this means those on land will be able to navigate vessels at sea.
It is not likely that all types of vessels will evolve into becoming fully autonomous and unmanned. Ferries and liners with predictable sailing patterns probably will, but the cruise business, for example, would face a much tougher transition to autonomy. But whether they switch to full autonomy or not, e-navigation will soon become central to the voyages of all seagoing vessels. And that is a science fact.