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Conference Proceedings Vol. I, II, III

 事業名 海事シミュレーションと船舶操縦に関する国際会議の開催
 団体名 日本船舶海洋工学会 注目度注目度5


BROADBAND TECHNOLOGY AND MARINE SIMULATION: WHY NOT SIMULATOR TRAINING ANYWHERE, ANYTIME?
Professor Peter Muirhead (World Maritime University, Sweden)
 
 Abstract: A recently completed EU research project called METNET examined, among other things, the use of modern technology in teaching. Research by the author into the growing availability and use of broadband technology links, undersea, on land and through future satellite systems, supports an extended world of training possibilities for the maritime community via these linkages.
 
 Today, a wide and growing variety of software based marine simulation tools are in use in maritime training institutions and centres throughout the world. Some shipowners have seen the advantage of placing some of the simulation systems onboard the ship for use by trainees in the workplace. Links between a trainee at sea and a tutor ashore are becoming increasingly possible and acceptable. Access to a Web based simulation training site is technically feasible today, where broadband capacity is in place. The concept of a student/trainee being able to access online simulation training software exercises from anywhere, anytime, not only when on land, but from a ship at sea is not such a far-fetched proposition.
 
 The paper discusses the virtues, concepts, advantages and disadvantages of extending the marine simulator training regime to a virtual environment. Why undertake simulator training at a distance? What can be gained? Who will recognise it? Can the problems of site licence, access, fees, copyright, and monitoring of trainee activity be overcome? These and other relevant issues are examined.
 
1. INTRODUCTION
 The world of maritime education and training (MET) is being subjected to many changes resulting from new international agreements on global standards of education and training. Many of these changes are brought about because of new events impacting upon the safety of shipping and protection of the environment. It is a dynamic, pro-active on-going process.
 
 The operation of ships themselves has changed, the introduction of new ship design and technology and data communications systems rapidly altering the work environment. Institutions and shipowners have to consider new training needs. The Norwegian shipping industry has tackled the problem by enlisting the help of the IT highway, multimedia learning tools and distance learning methods, through projects dealing with company specific computer based training systems [1]. Today, ships are being delivered with built in Local Area Networks (LANs) to allow links directly to and from the shipowner's office ashore. Muirhead [2] and Brödje [3] illustrated, through trials in Australia, that satellite communications and data transfer systems can have a place in the scheme of training at sea. Holder [4] has described developments in multimedia technology that are directed specifically to onboard training needs .
 
 A major thrust of the revised STCW Convention is to encourage a greater use of marine simulation through the provision of criterion based measurement of competence to perform functions and tasks. Some of the changes are in place now, many aspects are currently under development and others remain an untapped and untested vision. These include changes occurring in the design and operation of ships and equipment, the growing potential use of the Internet and e-mail information services onboard ship, to the realisation that distance learning methods may transform training possibilities at sea. The transfer of simulation based training facilities to the ship for use in situ by crewmembers can be anticipated in the future.
 
2. COMMUNICATION LINKS
 The last two decades has witnessed the continuing development and installation of new maritime technology of an increasingly sophisticated nature, demanding high levels of knowledge and skill from onboard personnel. This, in its turn, requires the support of specialised training programs to ensure that ships will continue to operate safely and efficiently and provide the general community with the assurance that good quality standards are being maintained. For IMO, the objectives of 'safer ships' and 'cleaner oceans' can only be met if the worldwide maritime industry is prepared to establish standards of training that will meet the challenge of modern technology.
 
 Traditionally, much of the core training requirement has been focused around courses at shore-based training institutions or centres. Much practical experienced is acquired through attending short simulator courses. But in the light of new technology does all such training have to be carried out ashore? It can be argued with some justification that technology today is providing the innovative owner and operator with a window of opportunity to transfer much of the training for required operational skills to the onboard environment. Indeed, new technological developments provide increasing potential for the assessment of an individual's competence to perform those skills in the workplace,
 
 Let us consider satellite communication links, Today, in 2003, the number of GEO, MEO and LEO satellite network operators continues to grow (Table 1 refers). The range of services provided, or due to be introduced in the next few years to provide global or near global communication links, extends to wireless telephones, fax, e-mail, data services, the Internet, pagers, television and links for cable TV companies. It has been estimated that there are more than 4.000 satellites in orbit around the earth [5]. Many satellites provide important services to the maritime community, such as tracking hurricanes, fish finding, fishing vessel and fleet management, coastal zone monitoring and marine pollution prevention and control. With new concerns over maritime security in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York, surveillance of ships to combat piracy, terrorist threats and illegal immigration, can be expected to increase. For ships, the benefits are seen in many other practical forms, such as improved search and rescue and ship reporting services, emergency medical care, voyage planning, weather routeing, tracking of cargo containers and improved access for training, education and family links for crew members.
 
Table 1 Major satellite communication operators
Major services No Type
SES-Americom 29 Geo, Leo
Panamsat 20 Geo
Intelsat (10 new being added) 20 Geo
Eutelsat (covers 48 countries) 18 Geo
Loral: Skynet (9), Satmex (2) 16 Geo, Leo
Europe *Star (3) Skynet Brasil (2)    
Inmarsat (3 new in 2004) 9 Geo
New Skies 5 Geo
Orbcomm (Data comms) 36 Leo
Teledesic 30 Leo
'Internet in the Sky' (2005)    
Satellite hand phone systems    
Iridium 66 Leo
Globalstar 48 Leo
New ICO (under development) 12 Meo
Sources: World Wide Web sites, March 2003
 
 Inmarsat Ltd today provides many satellite communication services in addition to its GMDSS obligations. Its range of communication systems A, B, C, Mini M, D/D+, Fleetnet and E, added to by the new Mobile Packet Data Service (MPDS) and FleetF77 in 2002, provides a comprehensive family of voice and data services to the global community [6]. Ships at sea are disadvantaged in not being able to access high speed undersea fibre-optic cables and are dependent upon satellite links for this segment. So, what sort of services can such technology provide to the ship, the shipowner and the seafarer? Although the capabilities of each system vary, the possibilities cover transmission of data, fax, telephone, e-mail, graphics, compressed and streaming video, slow scan TV, differential GPS corrections, distress alert, position reporting, group calling, polling and paging services.
 
 One major disadvantage experienced by the mariner at sea is the lack of connectivity to land based communication links, such as telephone, Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL), co-axial cable or fibre-optics. Connections for ship-company business are very dependent upon satellite links for part of the communication chain. This can make it expensive for small volume data transmissions. The main factor affecting cost of transmission is speed. This is dependent upon the type of information to be sent (text or graphics), the volume of information, the rate of data compression, and the transmit/receive facility available.
 
 Currently, in 2003, many shipping companies use marine communications software applications to manage links between ship and shore. These may be real-time or store and forward services. EasyLink, for example, offers through their Ocean-Connect range airtime services via Inmarsat, graphical fax solutions, shipboard e-mail options, as well as private e-mail facilities for crew members. Rydex Express and others offer similar services.
 
 Research and observation indicates that the greatest catalyst of change affecting the maritime industry in the last decade of the 20th century has been the growth and development of new communication links, both land and satellite based [7] Communication links to and from ships at sea are dependent upon satellite systems for coverage of the ship to shore leg of the communication chain. It is often overlooked that many communications go through undersea cables. It is estimated that there are more than 600,000 km of fibre-optic cable on the floors of the world's seas [8].
 
 It was reported that Lucent Technologies' Bell Laboratories had developed fibre-optic lines that could handle up to 100 Terabytes of data per second (that is 1,000 million Gigabytes per second). To put that into perspective, this is enough to transmit as many as two billion phone calls or 20 billion one-page e-mails ! [9]. The current land-speed record for data transfer was set on 9 April 2002 by teams from the Universities of Alaska and Amsterdam and SURFnet in the Netherlands. Using various networks, including the Internet2 Abilene backbone network, a speed of 401 Mbps was achieved [10].
 
 Most satellite communications today were established to handle voice, telex and fax and a little data traffic, generally for a low speed volume market. The Inmarsat B system provides a maximum HSD 56-64 Kbps throughput with compression at 80 kbps. The fourth generation Inmarsat satellites, coming on stream from 2004 onwards, will offer a full range of personal multimedia communications at a faster 144-432 kbps. Companies, like Sea-Tel Inc, are supporting the growing demand for satellite TV and video at sea, made possible by the improved stabilization and tracking technology in the antenna on the ship.
 
 A possible solution for ship and seafarer communications, and potentially one of the most exciting developments, is the proposed 'Teledesic' system ('Internet in the Sky') that plans to use 30 satellites to roam the Internet worldwide [11]. Designed to support millions of simultaneous users, it will provide up to 100 Mbps of capacity on the uplink and 720 Mbps on the downlink. The potential for Teledesic to provide access to simulation training via distance learning programs could change the face of onboard training concepts as well as the activities of shore based training institutions. The targeted start up date is 2005, and initial satellite building contracts were let in 2002 to get this ambitious project off the ground.
 
 At present, the most viable approach to developing an economical data transmission system is to make use of data compression techniques utilising computer based software, a computer terminal, modem and the Inmarsat system. Nera Satcom, Norway, has developed its future systems around ISDN signalling and multiple 64kbps channels. An older system in renaissance is VSAT technology. Although high in terminal cost, communication costs are low from a service that offers 64-512 Kbps.
 
 Brödje [12] noted that the future wave of broadband K-band satellite systems promised to alter the economics of satellite business, but this could be costly to establish, bearing in mind the experiences with Iridium (figure 1). Foley [13] reported that both Astrolink and Spaceway planned to start a service in 2003 with data speeds between 400 Kbps to 20 Mbps, where the use of spot beam and multi-carrier frequency techniques will allow data services to be maximised between beams.
 
 There is growing evidence in 2003 of greater access to e-mail services by ship crews, as ship operators try to attract personnel to careers at sea by providing such links to families. The doors to Internet access, however, with potential links for distance learning, are opening more slowly.
 
Figure 1. Typical data communications link
Source: Brödje, 2002







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