Laker becomes largest ship ever to perform automated docking

Wärtsilä SmartMove Suite features a pairing of sensor tech with navigation systems for semi-autonomous ship movement, to improve safety, efficiency and productivity on the water, while “taking automated dock-to-dock operations to the next level”.

American Steamship Company, a subsidiary of Rand-ASC Holdings LLC, was the first to install the solution on the MV American Courage, a 194-metres Great Lakes self-unloading bulk freighter with a cargo carrying capacity of 24,300 gross tonnage, in March 2020. This became the largest ship ever capable of performing automated docking and dock-to-dock sailing operations.

The winding, often narrowing Cuyahoga River in Ohio, US, can be heavily congested, making it by far the most challenging of shipping routes for any vessel using automated sailing and docking technology.

The complete Voyage Smart technology package addresses the American Courage’s restricted water manoeuvring profile requirements including a position margin of less than two meters and transit under bridges…One example of this is the versioning of the technology that utilizes the surrounding environment for vessel positioning making it ship-based rather than on shore. The resulting impact was a further reduction of the American Courage’s operating costs,

…says Pierre Pelletreau VP of Engineering, Rand-ASC Holdings LLC.

This is not about going captain-free, rather, enhancing the capabilities of onboard crew as they traverse shuttle routes, congested or restricted areas. When vessels must operate twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, we are pleased to offer an automated dock-to-dock transit solution that ensures every trip is conducted safely,

…explains John J Marshall, Senior Business Development Manager, Automation & DP; Americas, Wärtsilä Voyage.

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