Before they can be certified to pilot a tanker, deck officer candidates must spend hours in sophisticated bridge simulators gaining hands-on experience with today's state-of-the-art navigation systems, including:
Electronic Chart Display (ECDIS)
Automated Radar Plotting Aid (ARPA)
Automatic Identification Systems (AIS)
ECDIS - The electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS) contains detailed maps of the route, including water depths, underwater hazards and port configurations. Information from a satellite-based global positioning system (GPS) plots the ship's location on the map. Data from the helm feeds automatically into the ECDIS computer, which displays both the ship's heading (where the bow is pointed) and its actual movement through the water. Deck officers can then see clearly if winds or currents are affecting the ship's course. An alarm will sound if the ship drifts off of its pre-set course.
ARPA - Today's radar has the power of computers behind it. Automated radar plotting aided technology (ARPA) not only locates objects within radar range, but also calculates the speed and course of any moving objects. This information, which can be fed into the ECDIS screen, can be used to project the object's relative vector - its movement relative to the ship if both continue at their current speed and heading.
AIS - Ships large and small now feature advanced radio beacons, called automatic identification systems (AIS) that broadcast their identity, course, speed and position. A tanker captain can use the system to identify all vessels in surrounding waters and establish radio communications with those ships as needed.»next