Gone are the days when a ship navigation officer had to take help of unconventional ways to plan and navigate a voyage at sea. Today, a ship officer has myriad of marine navigation equipment which makes his life a lot simpler, thanks to the advancement in technology. Moreover, present day seafarers are trained so as to know the functioning and operation of all modern day navigational equipment that have made the journey at sea smoother and safer.
With modern day facilities and automation, a ship today has several advanced navigation equipment systems which give accurate data for the voyage.
Herein, we have enlisted 30 types of navigational equipment, both old and new, which are present on all merchant ships.
1. Gyro Compass
It is used for finding the right direction. Unlike magnetic compass, gyro compass is not hampered by external magnetic field. It is used to find correct North Position, which is also the earth’s rotational axis. Its repeater system must be present in the steering platform for emergency steering. Read more here.
It is used to determine the distance of the ship from land, other ships, or any floating object out at sea. Read more here.
3. Magnetic Compass
The magnetic compass work in conjunction with the magnetic field of the earth. It is used to get planned direction for the voyage.
4. Auto Pilot
It is a combination of hydraulic, mechanical, and electrical system and is used to control the ship’s steering system from a remote location (Navigation bridge).
Automatic Radar Plotting Aid displays the position of a ship and other vessels nearby. The radar displays the position of the ships in the vicinity and selects the course for the vessel by avoiding any kind of collision.
6. Automatic Tracking Aid
Just like ARPA, automatic tracking aid displays the information on tracked targets in graphic and numeric to generate a planned layout for a safer and collision free course.
7. Speed & Distance Log Device
The device is used to measure the speed and the distance traveled by a ship from a set point. By calculating the same, ETA of the ship is adjusted or given to the port authority and agent.
8. Echo Sounder
This instrument is used to measure the depth of the water below the ship’s bottom using sound waves.
9. Electronic Chart Display Information System
ECDIS is a development in the navigational chart system used in naval vessels and ships. With the use of the electronic chart system, it has become easier for a ship’s navigating crew to pinpoint locations, and attaining directions are easier than before. Read more about ECDIS here.
10. Automatic Identification system
AIS is a system which helps to pinpoint the location and other navigational statistics of ships. AIS uses VHF radio channels as transmitters and receivers to send and receive messages between ships which endeavors to fulfill a lot of responsibilities. Read more about AIS here.
11. Long Range Tracking and Identification (LRIT) System
LRIT is an international tracking and identification system incorporated by the IMO under its SOLAS convention to ensure a thorough tracking system for ships across the world. Read more about LRIT here.
12. Rudder Angle Indicator
Rudder angle indicator, as the name indicates, provide the angle of the rudder. The display is provided on bridge to control the rate of turn and rudder angle of the ship.
13. Voyage Data Recorder
A VDR or voyage data recorder is an instrument safely installed on a ship to continuously record vital information related to the operation of a vessel. It contains a voice recording system for a period of at least last 12 hours. This recording is recovered and made use of for investigation in events of accidents. Read more about VDR here.
14. Rate of turn indicator
It indicates how fast the ship is turning at steady rate, normally shown as number of degree turned.
15. GPS Receiver
A Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver is a display system used to show the ship’s location with the help of Global positioning satellite in the earth’s orbit.
16. Sound Reception System
This system is required for a ship with fully enclosed type bridge. It enables the navigating officer inside the cabin to listen to the sound signals and fog horn from other ships.
17. Navigational Lights
All boats – whether big or small are required to have night lights as a part of the navigation systems. This system was introduced in the year 1838 by the United States and then was followed by the United Kingdom in 1849. In the year 1889, the International Maritime Conference was established by the United States to establish proper guidelines to prevent marine accidents. In the year 1897, these rules were officially adopted internationally. Read more here.
18. Ship Whistle
A ship’s horn is known as whistle and it is generally provided in duplicate. One is driven by air and the other is electrically operated.
19. Daylight Signalling Lamp
They are light signalling devices used for emergency signalling in the day time.
20. Pilot Card
It is an informative booklet provided to the ship’s pilot. It consists of the dimension, draught, turning circle, manoeuvring, propulsion equipment etc. of the vessel for safe manoeuvring.
21. Voyage Plan
A voyage Plan must be present onboard for referring past voyage plans or planning a future voyage.
22. Forecastle Bell
It is used to mark the presence of the ship in fog or bad weather and sound the alarm in case of any emergency.
23. Manoeuvring Booklet
In this booklet the performance of the propulsion plant and the ship during manoeuvring in different weathers and situations is recorded for quick reference.
24. Black Ball Shape
It is a day time signalling shape used to determine the characteristics of vessel with different arrangement of ball shapes. For e.g. a vessel at anchor will show a blackball at foremost end of the forecastle.
25. Record of Navigation Activities
All the navigational activities must be recorded and kept on board for ready reference. This is a mandatory and the most important log book.
26. Record of Maintenance of Navigational Equipment
Hard copy of the record must be present onboard ships for ready reference of port and regulatory authorities and must be signed by master and duty officers of the ship.
27. Wheelhouse Posters
Present in the Navigation bridge, it displays a detailed information of manoeuvring characteristics of the ship.
28. Transmitting Heading Devise
They are used to display the information of the vessel’s true heading.
29. Black Diamond Shape
When the ship is being towed or when a vessel is unable to maneuvers on itself, a black diamond shape is shown during the day time.
30. Ship Flags
Various types of ship flags with different colors and signs are used to indicate a ship’s position. Signal flags are they are commonly known, have been used since the ancient times and are still used on all vessels.