By Joseph Keefe

Brown Water Training and Collision Reconstruction Taken to a New Level

When a new or expanded port is planned on an inland waterway, how do you assure the civil marine engineers and ship operators of feasibility and operability while at the same time allaying the fears of local residents that their quality of life and local environment will not be significantly spoiled? “Simple,” says Paul Morter, Business Manager for BMT ARGOSS’s brown water version of their tried and tested ship simulator REMBRANDT. “You take the ships and the port to them. This is exactly what we did towards the end of 2014. We delivered customer workshops and a public consultation for two planned overnight rest ports on the Rhine transport route between Germany and the Netherlands.”
It was BMT ARGOSS inland waterways specialist Johannes ‘Hans’ Veldman who identified a potential market for brown water simulation through his work experience with the Dutch inland waterway networks.
Veldman has brown water in the blood, growing up afloat on the inland waterways of the Netherlands and beyond and has a broad knowledge of the European inland waterway network, the locks and other structures found on inland waterways. For example, he had significant involvement in the development of the hydraulic lock leveling system for the new canal between the rivers Seine in France and Scheldt in the Netherlands.
Another project attributable to him was the initiation of the completed Joint Industry Project “Improved Push-Barge Connection System” that resulted in an improved connection system for inland push-barges on inland vessels. “The BMT Group is very proactive in supporting well thought out ideas that require some development”, explains Morter, himself a blue water Master Mariner. He added, “We received the full backing, including financial assistance, from the Group’s innovation board to make the necessary adjustments to the software for this market.”
REMBRANDT has been in existence for over twenty years, starting as basic, two dimensional software. Now a fully DNV type approved navigation and maneuvering simulator with high quality graphics and all the attributes of a modern day bridge simulator, the brown water version of the simulator has allowed BMT ARGOSS to extend this capability into the inland waterways market. For this particular market, portability is as important as capability, so not only was the software specifically adapted to the needs of brown water, but also the bridge infrastructure had to be fully portable and representative of the inland vessel bridge.
“Developing a brown water version of the simulator was not without its challenges”, continues Morter, “Hans’s experience was invaluable in this respect in ensuring that we got it right.” Inland vessel bridge design is much more standardized than ocean going vessels so the layout of the wheelhouse was critical to the skippers’ immersion. However, there are some vessel controls that are not normally encountered on deep sea ships. Some of these systems required a significant amount of development to ensure correct operation and behavior of models. This required close cooperation between software specialists and BMT ARGOSS’s in house team of experienced naval architects.
Recently, an existing harbor near Lobith-Tuindorp and the river flood plain Beijenwaard near Lobith-Spijk have been selected for the development of 70 berths to provide overnight layover facilities to satisfy the rest requirements for inland vessel crews. An important design aspect for these facilities is the safety for the vessels arriving at and departing from the harbors. Simulation is not only essential for establishing safety, but has also been shown to be a very good way of involving the public in the developments. As many as 80 different simulations were conducted, covering the whole range of expected conditions, using licensed inland waterway pilots to carry out the simulations. The result of the simulations was an assessment of the planned development along with a proposal for alternatives to provide safe berths.
The regional authority responsible for the planned development took the decision to involve the nearby local community as part of the design process. Using the simulators portability a demonstration was set up in the local town hall enabling visitors to gain a good understanding of the studies involved in the development process to ensure the port designs are safe for navigation.
As well as providing traditional port and canal development simulations, REMBRANDT-INLAND can be used to accurately reconstruct specific incidents involving collisions in order to identify the root cause and any lessons that can be learned. The simulation uses available shipboard data combined with high fidelity models, to produce meaningful three-dimensional simulations. Voice, radar and position data sets are automatically synchronized together with environmental data and navigational circumstances, to present a complete and seamless reconstruction of events for in-depth analysis.
The resulting incident reconstruction can be used to identify what happened not only for litigation purposes, but to help improve safety. Once the root cause is determined the first steps towards future prevention can be implemented. This knowledge and also the liaison with the client can produce a range of “what if” scenarios that can be thoroughly investigated and evaluated to produce specific training needs, valuable lessons learned and possible review of operational policies and procedures.
REMBRANDT-INLAND is a highly accurate, capable and flexible alternative to Full Mission Bridge (FMB) marine simulators, delivering equivalent functionality at a lower price point. REMBRANDT allows the user to load any port, river or canal and utilizes high fidelity vessel models that include over 750 parameters, ensuring that the user experiences identical vessel to vessel interaction, vessel to bank interaction, squat and shallow water effects as the real vessel would in the same conditions. REMBRANDT-INLAND is currently being used as part of BMT ARGOSS’s consultancy offering and will be available to purchase later in 2015.




(As published in the March 2015 edition of Marine News -


Marine News Magazine, page 48,  Mar 2015

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Marine News

Marine News is the premier magazine of the North American Inland, coastal and Offshore workboat markets.