Increasing demand for integrated bridge refits

As ship owners continue to focus on cost control and reducing total cost of ownership, refits of on-board equipment is increasingly on the owner’s agenda. In line with this market trend, Radio Holland is supporting ship owners by offering turnkey bridge refit packages. In addition to modernising the bridge and introducing new functionality, other drivers for investing in these projects include integration with other ship systems, better process efficiency and increased equipment reliability. New regulations also influence the decision to invest.

Jamie Futch, Radio Holland USA Project Manager explains. “IMO recently introduced new rules concerning ECDIS which operators must comply with. At the same time there is clearly a demand for integrated bridge packages. As vessels get larger and ports get busier there are safety benefits to have navigation tools integrated. This is driving many of our upgrade projects.”

Radio Holland has developed a well-earned reputation of being able to execute retrofits for integrated bridge solutions in a short turnaround time. For example, in the past year Radio Holland USA successfully completed a refit of Holland America Line’s ‘MS Amsterdam’ in Freeport, The Bahamas.

Holland America Line

The project scope on the MS Amsterdam included refitting the navigation and bridge systems to improve working conditions in line with Holland America Line’s Bridge Resource Management concept. Radio Holland installed a new Furuno Integrated Bridge with the latest Furuno Radars, new ECDIS, Track Control, GPS, Satellite speed log and a video distribution package, which included remote screens in the Master’s, Staff Captain and engine control room. Additional equipment, including an upgrade of the auto-pilot interface with the propulsion systems to deliver fuel savings, was also installed.

Previously, Radio Holland has carried out five major Holland America Line complete bridge upgrades and they were all completed in a short period of time, with no delays. More recently the company also performed refits for Windstar Cruises on the Star Breeze and Star Legend.

Quick turnaround

Jamie Futch stresses: “For cruise vessels it is crucial to be able to offer an efficient turnaround because dry dock periods are very short and very intense. This requires availability of sufficient manpower who have the right technical and project management skills. In addition to technical skills, our field engineers have to possess the agility to react to the unexpected situations that invariably come up during a major dry dock.”

Because of these strict schedules, months of detailed project engineering takes place before a dry-docking. “We are 100% ready when aboard. For example, ahead of the dry dock I typically sail one or two weeks on the ship performing final engineering and planning, so we can make sure the ship owner gets exactly what they require.”

MS Amsterdam’s dry-dock started on April 27th and was completed in just 12 days, while the Star Breeze began on April 7th and was finished by April 14th. “The vessels were completed in two weeks from start to finish. Crucially, we have the resources, capability and expertise and can do these major projects simultaneously,” he says.

On schedule

Careful planning and monitoring of the schedule are also vital. “If we see that fabrication of a component is getting behind, this is flagged up and addressed so we don’t get delays later. We quickly make adjustments to get us back on schedule, bringing in standby engineers for instance. There is always a backup plan, the engineers are fully briefed and can be brought in at moment’s notice.”

Containerships and Navy vessels

Radio Holland also carries out refits in other industry sectors. Currently, it is performing an extensive upgrade of a Matson Navigation containership in Nantong, China. The ‘Manukai’ refit includes three new radars, ECDIS, Track control, Auto Pilot, Speed Log and SVDR. This follows on from the upgrade of Matson Navigation’s ‘RJ Pfeiffer’. Radio Holland supplied new custom-built consoles, as well as a full navigation equipment package. Additionally, Radio Holland is carrying out navigation upgrades for the USNS Stockham, which is operated by the US Navy’s Military Sealift Command. Taking place in South Carolina, work includes a new redundant gyro distribution and steering control system.

Remote monitoring & video distribution requirements

Jamie expects to see increasing requests for bridge refits from all sectors and in line with this, more demand for remote monitoring systems aboard, as well as video distribution systems. “We are getting requests from customers who want shore-side monitoring capabilities. Ship owners want to have the ability to collect remote data from the vessel, to be able to see what the screens on the bridge are displaying from their office ashore.”

Video distribution is another trend. “For instance, the captain wants to have higher resolution screens to be able to monitor navigational hazards on the bridge. But there is then the challenge of extending the high-resolution video signals.” Typically a standard video cable is 20-30 m but we use fibre optic cable to reach the engine control room, which could be 200 m and beyond from the bridge, he adds. Radio Holland has researched this issue and has solutions ready to go for any length of cable. “It’s an effective solution which fits with their requirements.”

Always there. Everywhere.