Wärtsilä's SmartDock system enables Seaspan to perform autonomous docking manoeuvres even in challenging conditions (Source: Seaspan)

Seaspan adopts auto-docking system from Wärtsilä

Seaspan and Wärtsilä Automation Navigation & Control Systems (ANCS) have commissioned the first of two ships to have the technology company’s SmartDock auto-docking system installed on board.

The commissioning of the Seaspan Trader, a RoRo cargo vessel, has just been completed and a second vessel,  Seaspan Transporter, a similar ship, is due to have an installation later this year or early 2024.

Wärtsilä ANCS’s scope of work was signed in 2021. It includes providing the autonomous SmartDock system, including track development for autodocking at Tilbury, Duke Point, and Swartz Bay ports in Canada.

The system, based on a network of sensors, will enable Seaspan to perform autonomous docking manoeuvres even in challenging conditions, where currents can reach up to two knots. SmartDock guarantees consistent, safe, and predictable docking and undocking manoeuvres, reducing the need for intensive interaction from the vessel’s captain, Wärtsilä ANCS said in a statement.

SmartDock uses an advanced Unscented Kalman Filter (UKF) estimator, combining sensor measurements from various sources, such as a Global Navigation Satellite System and Wärtsilä ANCS's laser sensor Cyscan AS, to calculate precise position and rate estimates of the vessel's motion. This data is then compared to a pre-programmed ideal trajectory of the vessel, and the advanced controller allocates thrust and steering commands, ensuring safe and consistent autonomous docking and undocking manoeuvres.

Wärtsilä ANCS director, Dynamic Positioning, Klaus Egeberg, said: “Wärtsilä ANCS is excited to continue supporting Seaspan and build on an already strong working relationship. We look forward to the potential implementation of the SmartDock product across some other vessels in Seaspan's ferry fleet, further advancing the automation and efficiency of maritime operations.”

Alex Treharn, Seaspan integration engineer, commented: “Seaspan is proud to lead the charge in this technological advancement in vessel manoeuvring. The integration of Wärtsilä ANCS's SmartDock system into Seaspan Trader exemplifies our unwavering commitment to excellence and innovation in maritime operations.”

Article Editorial staff Ship&Offshore
Article Editorial staff Ship&Offshore