The Draft of E-Navigation’s Shipping Route

During the SMART4SEA meeting in 2019, BørgeHetland, Director of Sales and Marketing Department from NAVTOR shared his experience in participating the European R&D Project of the company. He described the four steps of how the emerging technology would change the drafting procedure of shipping route. He concluded that in the near future, E-Navigation will change the procedure, which would save plenty of time in the preparation of navigation, thus increasing efficiency and reducing cost.


  1. Assessment Stage

The first stage, namely the assessment stage, is to collect all information concerning the coming navigation. In this respect, it is necessary to consider what information is relevant and where to find them. This takes a lot of time because there are plenty of information and resources in  books and publications.

Challenges can be difficult and time-consuming, for Second Officer must collect information about navigation from various sources. Besides, he has to guarantee all the data are the latest. Also, it’s important to know how to use these resources, and understand how to explain and apply these information in a correct way.

Fortunately, digitization has helped to improve the situation. NAVTOR believes all the information will be digitized and can be provided as required in the future. The renewal would be seamless and automatic, the manual and time-consuming tasks in assessment stage would be safer, easier and more automatic.

  1. Drafting Stage

Nowadays, before drafting, the Second Officer will usually use Excel to manually prepare the detailed plans of the navigation. Manual operation is time-consuming, since they must fill in a great deal of information, such as longitude, latitude, UKC, location, paralleled concordancer, course and speed variation, turn rate, ENC, tidal rate, NavArea warnings, NAVTEX and waypoints along the shipping route. Imagine filling these information, such as 140 waypoints! We are talking about the high risk of typo mistakes everyday, since it may be considered as flaws by investigators or surveillants of port states. Under some circumstances, such massive workloads may result in navigators’ slacking off at work, which would endanger vessels.

The E-Navigation technology will make the drafting stage more efficient, accurate and safe by automatically recording and calculating the navigation information. All the needed information will be filled in every waypoint automatically. At the same time, the digital security inspection will ensure the safety of the vessel and crews by analyzing the course and comparing the data given by Second Officer and draught height with other parameters.

NAVTOR hopes that in the future, the drafting stage could become an entire automatic procedure. As the routing optimization technology becomes more mature, the ideal result is that it can generate a complete plan for their navigation the instant the Second Officer tells the system where to go.

It is just a matter of time. Nevertheless, it’s obvious that the E-Navigation will bring noticeable edges to the company, because the drafting procedure will be greatly simplified and become more safe, standard and accurate.

  1. Implementation Stage

Today, vessel reports are still a enormous executive burden for the ready-to-navigate crew. During a navigation, the crew may need to submit over 10 copies, sometimes even over hundreds of various copies, most of which include the same information. As a part of SESAME-2 researching project, NAVTOR is exploring the single-window account, which means the Second Officer can use an account to submit all the documents to clean the ports and permissions. The project aims at seeking a new system, which can achieve the machine-machine interaction without manual input. In other words, automatic vessel reports can save time for navigators.

In the future, information from ECDIS and other information systems can reach the crew and the potentials to enhance the perception of navigation system by AR(Augmented Reality) are also huge. This kind of information includes speed, tidal information, navigation, weather data, guide to ports and information of using fuels. In the misty weather, clear visions can make crew become clear about the course, maritime traffic, the distance from the sea to the land, depth, the danger of navigation,etc, thus keeping them safe. It’s almost like possessing the X-ray vision of superman.


4: Surveillance stage

Sailors are responsible for security when the vessels are on the navigation. This could be a challenge, for shipping is always with uncertainties. No matter how much time sailors spend to carefully evaluate all relevant information and draw up scheduled voyage, there could be unexpected situations such as weather, accidents, cargo displacement, diseases, damages, route changes, or harbor search for vessels due to accidental technical fault.

If any unforeseen circumstances occur, with better communication between vessels and the land, fleet operation center can assist ships as far as possible. Under the support of ground-based teams, shipping companies will better supervise ships to make them stay on the scheduled route, thus  control and improve security in a great manner.

Fleet operation center is also one of the procedures of autonomous ship. During the ENABLE-S3 project, NAVATOR studied the idea of “Shore-based Bridge” and tested the availability of software element under the concept of “remote bridge”. Based on continuous data sharing between ships and land, the project explored the potential to transfer sailors' key navigation function to office team. In other words, it is likely for shore-based operators to command ships in the future.



The world is going digital. The steady development of information and communication technology as well as ever-increasing data volume will continue to bring unprecedented changes. Under such circumstances, traditional shipping industry also will undergo dramatic changes. For NAVTOR, E-navigation will change the process of routes drafting and improve security and efficiency. Time and cost can be saved, accidents can be prevented, and defects can be removed under such changes. E-navigation also plays a significant role in making navigation more environmental friendly and more sustainable.


Source: Wo Shen Maritime Service Limited Company