Navigating the marine domain

Nanaimo Port Authority is plugging B.C. coastal communities into a navigation system that enhances safety and security and cuts operational costs to make ports more competitive.

Rodney Grounds, Nanaimo Port Authority manager of marine operations, points a cursor at a computer image of B.C. Ferries’ MV Coastal Renaissance approaching Nanaimo Harbour. A mouse click commands a computer to ping the ship’s automatic identification system (AIS) transponder – the marine version of the aviation industry’s identification friend-or-foe system – which pops up the ferry’s identity, speed, draft, position and a raft of other telemetry – on one of two wall-sized flat screens.

The mouse click simultaneously swings a camera onto the ship, still 6.5 kilometres away. Grounds zooms in on the upper car deck where a deckhand reaches for an intercom handset to receive orders from the bridge, seen on the second screen.