Marine navigational equipment has evolved with technological innovations and advancement. Modern marine navigation tools are easy to use, accurate and reliable. Here are top 23 navigational equipment and their uses on modern ships.
1. Marine Binoculars:
A pair of marine binoculars is used for viewing distance object within line of sight. Modern marine binoculars has a wide field of view as well as water-resistance and rubber armoured with a built-in bearing compass.
2. Magnetic Compass:
Magnetic compass provides directional guide using the earth's magnetic field. It helps in planning the direction for the voyage.
3. Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver:
Maritime GPS receiver is used on a ship to know the location of the ship during voyage. The system processes the signal broadcasted by GPS satellites to determine the ship's location.
A marine radar is used in detecting approaching vessels and any floating object within range.
5. Gyro Compass:
A gyro compass is used for directional guide during voyage. Gyro compass is better than magnetic compass because it cannot be hampered by external magnetic field. It helps in finding the correct North Position, which is the earth’s rotational axis.
6. Automatic Radar Plotting Aid (ARPA):
ARPA shows the position of nearby ships and selects the right course of navigation to avoid collision.
7. Log device:
This measures the speed and distance sailed. It is driven by a tiny impeller attached to the ship hull. As long as the mechanism is not jammed by weeds - which would require removal, it provides reliable information which tells the Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) of the ship.
8. Depth Sounder:
Echo sounder or depth sounder is used to measure the depth of the water below the ship’s bottom using sound waves. It has alarms that are preset to a particular depth, and graphic sounders that display a profile of the bottom.
9. Automatic Identification System (AIS):
AIS provides navigators with basic statistical details of ships within proximity - such as vessel type, speed, etc. AIS uses VHF radio channels as transmitters and receivers to send and receive messages between ships. It saves the ship from accidental collision.
10. Rudder Angle Indicator:
This is a display system on the bridge that shows the angle of the rudder. It aids in controlling the rate of turn and rudder angle of the vessel.
11. Long Range Tracking and Identification (LRIT) System:
LRIT System is a tracking and identification system incorporated by the IMO under its SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) convention to ensure a thorough tracking of vessels on international voyages. It provides ship identity and current location information promptly for a government to evaluate the security risk posed by a ship off its coast and to respond to reduce the risk if necessary.
12. Voyage Data Recorder (VDR):
VDR is the "Black Box" for ships. It is a system installed onboard a ship that records various data relating to the operation of the vessel during voyage. It provides the details for analysis and investigation should accident occur.
13. An Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS):
ECDIS is a nautical navigation system that provides geographic information and the vessel’s position in relation to land, charted objects and unseen hazards. It complies with IMO regulations and can be used as an alternative to paper navigation charts.
14. Sound Reception System:
This helps the navigating officer to hear the sound signals and fog horn of other ships. The system is required for ships with fully enclosed bridge.
15. Navigational Lights:
To prevent maritime accidents, all vessels are mandated to have navigational light fully lighted at night.
16. Ship Whistle:
The horn used on vessels are called ship whistle. There are two types available on ships. One is electrically operated and the other is pneumatic.
17. Day shapes:
Day shapes are daylight signals which indicates the status of a vessel to other vessels on navigable waters - such as anchored, aground, etc. The shapes are ball, cylinder, cone, and diamond hung from a mast in a manner prescribed by the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (ColRegs).
18. Forecastle Bell:
This is used to signal the presence of a ship in fog or bad weather and sound the alarm in case of any emergency.
19. Daylight Signalling Lamp:
Daylight signalling lamp are lights fitted on ships for daylight signal communication between ships most especially in an emergency.
20. Auto Pilot System:
This is a system that automates the navigation of the vessel. It combines hydraulic, mechanical, and electrical system to control the ship’s steering system from a remote location (Navigation bridge).
Maritime logbooks are used for recording navigational activities, maintenance of navigation equipment, voyage plan and other necessary information for reference purposes. On the deck, it is expected that during watch keeping, entries are made in the logbook and passed down to other crew members. This is a requirement by maritime law.
22. Maritime signal flags:
Various flags are used on ships to communicate the status of the vessel at a particular time. For instance, diving support vessel uses flag to communicate that it can't change its location because they have underwater divers as such other vessels should steer clear to avoid endangering the diver(s) with their propellers.
23. Marine Pilot Card:
This is a booklet provided to the marine pilot that contains all the vital navigational information about the ship such as dimension, draught, turning circle, manoeuvring, propulsion equipment etc. for safe manoeuvring of the vessel.