MOL Takes a Step Forward in Visualization at Sea

Japanese shipping major Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) has joined forces with Japan Radio and JSAT MOBILE Communications in building a network that shares data recorded in Voyage Data Recorder (VDR).

The data would be shared by using Fleet Xpress provided by Inmarsat, a high-capacity, high-speed satellite telecommunication service.

VDR records data on vessel movement, including position, navigation speed, main engine rpm, as well as voice communication on the bridge, image data on nautical instruments such as radar, and the Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS).

An international treaty mandates that large-scale vessels and passenger ships that ply international waters be equipped with VDR, in order to analyze and identify the background and causes of marine incidents, based on data collected by the VDR prior to such incidents.

Conventionally, VDR data was accumulated in its main unit onboard, so the data had to be stored in secondary storage such as hard disk drive and mailed to offices on shore.

This meant shore-side personnel could not access this data during the voyage. And varying postal systems at ports around the world made it difficult to get data on a timely basis.

MOL conducted the test with one of its operated vessels, and confirmed the new network capabilities of real-time monitoring on shore, and shorter, swifter transmission of VDR data to shore.

MOL positions this move as “a major step toward future remote vessel operation technology, having set its sights on expanding its use to every MOL-operated vessel, and continues research aimed at refining the concept of ‘visualization at sea’.”

The network can receive and monitor VDR-collected information related to various nautical instruments and the main engine of the vessel, and determine the movement of the vessel on the nautical chart by transferring the data to ECDIS, according to the company. Past data recorded on VDR can be acquired ashore whenever needed by using satellite telecommunications.