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STM@Work – In Ice

STM@Work – In Ice

Published: February 25, 2019

"M/T Astoria" saves bunker and reduce emissions. The bridge team saves time and gains accuracy. Astoria achieves these benefits by using STM to share her voyage plans with the Winter Navigation Service. She receives an ice route and integrates the ice route into an updated voyage plan. Using STM simplifies working life onboard and reduces shipping company costs..

When sailing in the ice-infested waters in the Gulf of Bothnia, there are many additional concerns compared to sailing in a plain liquid sea. The thickness of the ice affects the speed and the fuel consumption of the vessel. And then there is always the risk of getting stuck.
To assist trade in winter time, icebreakers from Finland and Sweden help out. They keep ice routes open, they assist ships that get stuck, and they are the knowledge centre of the shifting ice conditions in the area, advising merchant ships on what to do by issuing iceroutes. The icebreakers work closely with Ice info in Sweden and Bothnia VTS in Finland.
Traditionally the ice routes have been delivered over radio, by e-mail or AIS message. Now a fourth option is in use, Sea Traffic Management, STM, through the Winter Navigation Service, WNS, where all icebreakers and relevant shore centres are connected. This is a short story on how M/T Astoria, a Veritas Tanker product tanker got assistance.

Astoria shared her voyage plan to Piteå with WNS well before entering the area. Bothnia VTS saw that the plan would take Astoria into really thick ice for a long stretch, and decided to send an ice route directly to their ECDIS via STM. Astoria integrated the ice route into her new voyage plan.

Another ship using the winter navigation services is “M/T Steel”, which sails the Gulf of Bothnia pushing ice-classed barges like the “Bothnia”. Navigation Officer Denmark Jalandoni shares his views on winter navigation services: “It is of big help. When we are busy it helps by reducing the workload a lot. Without STM the normal procedure is to get an email with the ice route coordinates. We then transfer the coordinates manually into the ECDIS. This is ok if there are one or two waypoints but when there are more it helps a lot to get them directly to the ECDIS, with the STM winter navigation service. Sometimes we get the ice route before the leaving port and can consider them in planning the route. Sometimes we get the ice route during the voyage and have to adjust our voyage plan accordingly. “

“M/T Steel” during a port stay

Mr. Jalandoni continues “We have also tried other STM services, like route cross-check before leaving port, and the pilot route service. It is cool to integrate the pilot routes into our own voyage plan before leaving port. This is very useful especially for ports where there is a choice of many fairways. We will have the exact same route in our ECIDS as the pilot in his tool. This gives us a common situational awareness and increases safety.” He finishes “I will try to use all STM services available as they reduce the work load and makes our work simpler and safer.”

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