To ensure increased safety in entry and exit manoeuvres of large ships in the Port of Santos, “Praticagem São Paulo” (Pilotage São Paulo) has acquired equipment to calculate distances and identify obstacles in the navigation channel of the Santos wharves, using a virtual nautical chart.
It is the Portable Pilot Unit (PPU) – a device that combines a tablet and an antenna and is taken aboard by the pilots. It will only be used for manoeuvring of large vessels, those of more than 280 meters in length.
In order for the 51 pilots in the region to understand the functioning and the characteristics of the equipment, training was initiated at the beginning of the month.
According to Peter Selwyn, of New Zealand company Navicom Dynamics, the supplier of the device, it (the PPU) calculates the navigation position and direction of the ship, and the speed of rotation (which takes into account how many degrees the vessel can turn in a minute). All with a precision of 50 centimetres.
"It's like a car GPS, but with high quality precision. The software illustrates the ship on the electronic nautical chart." said Selwyn.
In order to use the new system, the pilot should carry a backpack with a tablet and an antenna, which weighs about six kilos.
All equipment is waterproof and shockproof. The antenna must be installed on the outside of the control room of the ship, so it captures the necessary data. They are transmitted to the tablet, where the professionals can visualize them.
According to pilot Bruno Roquete Tavares, the system will increase safety, but the experience and the professional look of the Pilotage continue to be the factors that determine the success of the maneuver.
"This is one more way to ensure greater security, so that we can make a maneuver in adverse conditions and in confined spaces such as we have in the Port of Santos" highlights the pilot. He refers to periods of bad weather, with fog or low visibility that hamper the entry and exit of vessels in Santos docks.
"Ships have grown (in size) worldwide. The port authorities did not think it would be so fast. So, while the size and draught (height of the vessel that is submerged) keep growing, the physical space is getting more limited” he explains. For this reason, since last year, a determination of the Capitania dos Portos de São Paulo(CPSP) (Port Authorities of São Paulo) requires ships over 306 meters in length need to be operated with two pilots aboard."
It's not that without it (the equipment) there will be no maneuver. The idea is to further increase the safety in those cases where the complexity is higher, where we need positioning and distance.
This information usually is available on board, but now we have our own", highlights the pilot.
According to Tavares, the plan is that the PPU is also used for the Port of São Sebastião maneuvers, on the north coast of the state. There, the bigger complexities are the ocean current and the transport of chemicals and oil in large vessels.