Seldom can a sight-seeing vessel have turned so many heads in commercial shipping as the carbon fibre ‘Vision of the Fjords’, reported in last month’s ‘Maritime Journal’. According to Simrad though, it may be the ship’s bridge technology that proves its most significant feature.

'Vision of the Fjords' continues to turn heads cruising up and down the Norwegian coast

'Vision of the Fjords' continues to turn heads cruising up and down the Norwegian coast

Known as Seasight through her development phase at shipyard Brødene aa, the eye-catching Vision of the Fjords began carrying tourists between Flåm and Gudvangen along Norway’s western coast in June, taking in the UNESCO-protected Nærøyfjord. Those on board are free to roam over the distinctive zig-zagging exterior in pursuit of the ultimate view - a design aiming to emulate a mountainside trail.

The feature bringing the ferry to wider attention has been its propulsion, whose hybrid DC distribution and storage solution allows Vision of the Fjords to switch to silent, two emission-free 287 kWh batteries when entering conservation areas.

All of the new ferry’s main bridge equipment items - from the radar to the electronic chart display information system (ECDIS), autopilot, compact gyro compass, and DGPS - are Simrad-branded solutions.

“This is a major reference for Simrad safety, navigation and control technology”, says Leif Ottosson, CEO, Navico. “The Norwegian ferry market is rightly known as a trend setter in ship technology, but it is also fiercely competitive. Securing this contract puts Simrad bridge products at the heart of innovation in the commercial maritime industry.”

In fact, Vision of the Fjords provides an early showcase for the Simrad PLECDIS E5024 system, launched last year as the latest IMO type-approved Simrad navigation system for use aboard SOLAS vessels, and distinguished, says Simrad, by simple installation and intuitive user interface. Also onboard are two Argus 12U radars for high speed craft. Working off one 9ft and one 6ft antennas, Simrad’s X-band technology can merge two antenna images (including full ARPA and AIS) in one display.

The Simrad PLECDIS E5024 itself is a dual ECDIS station solution, featuring a wireless trackball controller, 24-inch Full-HD 16:9 widescreens with on-screen keyboards, and simplified drag-and-drop waypoint manipulation for route planning.

In addition to the main displays, the Vision of the Fjords bridge console also includes the Simrad GC85 Compact gyro system, which is fully approved for High Speed Craft - trailed as the most flexible Gyrocompass on the market in installation, configuration and cost terms.

Also onboard is the Simrad AP80 autopilot system, which features adaptive software that offers users the opportunity to select either auto or navigation modes, with settings to enable slow speed and manoeuvring quickly. The newly-designed Simrad MX612 navigation system onboard has been designed to match the AP80 autopilot, and its 5” LCD bonded screen is distinguished by a clearer and fog-proof display with wide viewing angles.

Last, but not least, is the Simrad EP70 Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB), whose high-intensity LED at to the top of the antenna ensures optimal visibility.

The Fjords chief executive Rolf Sandvik has already given notice that the partnership behind Vision on the Fjords intends to build more vessels of similar specification. The anticipated newbuilds will all feature “the latest technology”, according to Sandvik.

As the distinctive Vision of the Fjords continues to turn heads cruising up and down the Norwegian coast in perhaps the highest specification maritime market in the world, ambitions for Simrad-branded products will surely be done no harm at all.

By Jake Frith