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March 10, 2009

DNV project promises safer navigation in ice areas

A three-year research project initiated by classification society DNV has led to the development of an ice load monitoring system that provides bridge personnel with real-time information about the actual ice loads on the ship's hull and shows satellite information about the ice integrated into electronic navigation maps.

Shipping activity in ice infested waters is one area where global warming may actually be opening up new business opportunities. But ship and crew are placed at risk if the ice loads encountered exceed those the ship was designed to withstand.

DNV is developing technological solutions to ensure that Arctic operations are safe and environmentally sound. The ice load monitoring project is an example of how DNV identifies critical risks and then works to find mitigating solutions.

The project culminated in 2008 with the development of a comprehensive decision support tool for transiting ice that has been tested over the last two winter seasons onboard the Norwegian Coast Guard vessel KV Svalbard.

The system includes fiber optic sensors that measure shear strain on the vessel's hull and electromagnetic equipment that measures the thickness of the ice at the bow. This information is analyzed and displayed on the bridge. Additionally, meteorological and satellite data about the ice is integrated into electronic charts allowing for optimum route selection. The project is the first to monitor the actual ice loads to be presented in real time at the bridge as a part of a decision support system. The system is ready to be installed for both new buildings and ships in operation.

"Based on the success of the ice load monitoring project and a thorough understanding of the risks associated with Arctic operations, our conclusion is that technology will not be a showstopper for conducting safe, well-planned ship operations in Arctic waters," said Morten Mejlænder-Larsen, DNV Maritime's program director for Arctic shipping.

"Our goal is to maintain high competence levels and updated rules and notations so that DNV is able to provide owners, yards and oil majors with the support they need to safeguard their cold climate activities," said Mejlænder-Larsen. The experience from the development and operation of the Ice Load Monitoring system will be implemented in a new DNV Notation securing same standard.


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