Lock entry system helps curb vessel damage

Vessel entering lock Wärtsilä’s lock entry assist system aids the approach of large vessels into locks where clearance is minimal. Credit: Vincent Tremblay
Industry Database

Wärtsilä has developed a lock entry assist system that will facilitate a vessel’s approach and entrance into waterway locks and help prevent damage to vessels and waterway locks to make operations safer, faster and more efficient.

The system uses global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) to measure a ship’s position to centimetre accuracy as it enters the lock. Speed adaptive controls, together with allocation of the thruster and rudder, ensures that the vessel enters the lock in a consistent manner every time, while minimising the influence of external forces from wind and current. During entry, the system automatically controls the vessel’s lateral position and heading, allowing the operator to focus on controlling the speed of the vessel.

“This project once again emphasises Wärtsilä’s leadership capabilities in creating greater efficiencies for marine operators through its Smart Marine approach,” said Joonas Makkonen, vice president of Voyage Solutions at Wärtsilä, which carried out the project in cooperation with Canada-based CSL Group.

A customised touchscreen interface is also being developed to simplify the operation and improve situational awareness.

Large test vessel

The initial deployment of the technology will be on board the CSL St Laurent, a 22,600t Trillium class bulk carrier owned by CSL. The ship operates on the waterways of the St Lawrence Seaway and Great Lakes in Canada and the US.

The technology comes in response to the increasing size of vessels operating on these waters. When entering the locks along the seaway, the clearance for larger vessels is minimal and the lock entry itself has become increasingly difficult to use.

By Rebecca Jeffrey

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