‘The Tanker Safety project is a great, concrete example of cooperation that improves marine security.’ Arvo Ruotsalainen, Managing Director, Neste Shipping
How the project began: close call at Suursaari
The first seeds of the Tanker Safety project were sown in the aftermath of the scare caused by the oil tanker Propontis touching ground close to Suursaari. However, thanks to the double hull construction of the ship, a major oil catastrophe was avoided – but only just. The accident made Juha Nurminen Chairman of the Board of the John Nurminen Foundation, think why the situation occurred and could something have been done to prevent it. At first, the chain of events was mulled over in a small group.
From pre-study to a project
Thoughts matured, but the real systematic work was not kicked off until 2008, when Pekka Laaksonen decided he would donate the effort equal to a year’s work to the Foundation. Laaksonen, on sabbatical from Nokia, was given the task of drawing up a pre-study for the Tanker Safety project. After the year had passed, he did not return to the mobile phone business but remained at the Foundation, now as the project manager of Tanker Safety, driving the project onwards.
Together with the pre-study team, Pekka Laaksonen met key seafaring stakeholders at dozens of meetings, conducting interviews and searching for a greater understanding and the bigger picture. In the spring of 2009, Neste Oil gave the project team the opportunity to observe operations at the bridge of a tanker during its journey from Primorsk via Sköldvik to Naantali.
When the first Tanker Safety workshop was organised in May 2009 on the Boistö island, all main seafaring stakeholders were present in spite of the fact that the objectives of the project were not yet clear. According to Juhani Kaskeala , the chairman of the project’s steering group, the key intention was to ensure that the project would not become theoretical dabbling.
Facilitation by Capgemini ensured that all workshop participants were able to influence and also commit to the end result. The team, divided into three groups at Boistö, decided that the most concrete way to improve the safety of tanker traffic would be to create a practice of sending route plans onshore for checking. In September 2009, a small team distilled the results of the Boistö workshop into a concrete ENSI vision. At the same time, the name of the navigation service to be created in the project, i.e. ENSI (Enhanced Navigation Support Information) was created. The project was accepted into the Foundation’s project portfolio at the board meeting of October 2009.
From prototype to product
In the autumn of 2009, Furuno and Navielektro specified a route plan format, after which route plan sending could be tested with simulators and later on a Neste Shipping tanker, which sent its plans to a VTS centre.
A second project workshop, where essential route plan information contents were identified, was organised in May 2010. In June 2010, the main project partners, i.e. the John Nurminen Foundation, the Finnish Transport Agency, Neste Oil and the Finnish Transport Safety Agency Trafi signed commitments to develop the service further.
User guidance made available
From 2010 to early 2012, the project focused on the design and, in particular, the usability of the ENSI service. Specification work was carried out by experts from the ENSI service stakeholders, and the actual specification was drawn up by Capgemini. Jussi Tuurnala, who was then employed by the Foundation, headed the usability project which also benefited greatly from the contribution of Adage. From the autumn of 2012 onwards, focus has been on fine-tuning the service and facilitating its deployment.
At the event, sea captain Mikko Klang, whom the Foundation had recruited from Neste Oil, presented the ENSI onboard video which doubles as a user manual for all who are considering using the ENSI service.
Calling out via VHF replaced by one click of a button
Thomas Erlund head of Vessel Traffic Services at the Finnish Transport Agency, explained the benefits of the ENSI service. For example, a vessel sailing in the Gulf of Finland has to send a GOFREP report with 23 items. Calling out via VHF is slow and cumbersome, and distracts from the main issue of navigation. With the ENSI service, most of the data is filled in automatically, and the full report can be sent by a single click of a button.
<h3Next steps: expansion to shipping companies, bringing in the Russian authorities
According to Erlund, ENSI is in use at the Gulf of Finland Vessel Traffic Centre, and will be deployed by the centre of Western Finland in the summer of 2014. The ENSI service can also be expanded to cover other vessel types. Tallink Silja, Sovcomflot, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and Mta Aranda are some of the stakeholders who have shown an interest in the service.
The world’s largest ECDIS device manufacturer, the Russian Transas had integrated the ENSI service to its latest ECDIS product. Transas may well be the route through which Russian authorities will be shown the benefits of the service.
What was the cost of ENSI?
The Foundation has invested approximately €500,000 in the Tanker Safety project, consisting mainly of project organisation salaries in 2009 – 2014. The Finnish Transport Agency has participated with a similar sum, covering, for example, the acquisition of ENSI software.
Many companies have donated invaluable expert effort to the project, valued at more than €100,000. The fact that the best experts have been at the project’s disposal exactly when they were needed far exceeds the value of money.
Embarked on the sea – and almost ready
As far as the Foundation is concerned, the Tanker Safety project is moving towards its close as the ENSI service will continue to be developed under the wings of the Finnish Transport Authority. Compared to the original schedules, according to which all tankers sailing the Gulf of Finland would have deployed the ENSI service by the end of 2013, the project is slightly delayed.
In December 2013, the Finnish Transport Agency and the John Nurminen Foundation signed a commitment to continue their cooperation until the end of June 2014. During this period, any errors or problems discovered in the system will be corrected, and the scope of the service will be expanded to cover all vessel types. The John Nurminen Foundation will assist in service deployment, and continue to contact new shipping companies. The Foundation plans to detach from the project at the stage when a mechanism ensuring the proliferation of the ENSI service to the tanker fleet of the Gulf of Finland is in place.