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Introduction to Dynamic Positioning

1 - Introduction
Dynamic positioning (DP) is a rapidly maturing technology, having been born of necessity as a result of the
increasing demands of the rapidly expanding oil and gas exploration industry in the 196s and early 19!s" #ven
no$, $hen there exist over 1, DP%capable vessels, the ma&ority of them are operationally related to the
exploration or exploitation of oil and gas reserves"
'he demands of the offshore oil and gas industry have brought about a $hole ne$ set of re(uirements" )urther to
this, the more recent moves into deeper $aters and harsh%environment locations, together $ith the re(uirement to
consider more environmental%friendly methods, has brought about the great development in the area of Dynamic
Positioning techni(ues and technology"
'he first vessel to fulfil the accepted definition of DP $as the *#ure+a*, of 1961, designed and engineered by
,o$ard -hatto" 'his vessel $as fitted $ith an analogue control system of very basic type, interfaced $ith a taut $ire
reference" #(uipped $ith steerable thrusters fore and aft in addition to her main propulsion, this vessel $as of about
./ tons displacement and length 10 feet"
1y the late 19!s, DP had become a $ell established techni(ue" In 192 the number of DP capable vessels totalled
about 6/, $hile by 192/ the number had increased to about 1/" 3urrently (44) it stands at over 1, and is still
expanding" It is interesting to note the diversity of vessel types and functions using DP, and the $ay that, during the
past t$enty years, this has encompassed many functions unrelated to the offshore oil and gas industries" 5 list of
activities executed by DP vessels $ould include the follo$ing6
• coring
• exploration drilling (core sampling)
• production drilling
• diver support
• pipelay (rigid and flexible pipe)
• cable lay and repair
• multi%role
• accommodation or *flotel* services
• hydrographic survey
• pre% or post%operational survey
• $rec+ survey, salvage and removal
• dredging
• roc+dumping (pipeline protection)
• subsea installation
• lifting (topsides and subsea)
• $ell stimulation and $or+over
• platform supply
• shuttle tan+er offta+e
• )loating production ($ith or $ithout storage)
• heavy lift cargo transport
• passenger cruises
• mine countermeasures
• oceanographical research
• seabed mining
DP is also used in
• roc+et launch platform positioning
• repair7maintenance support to military vessels
• ship%to%ship transfer and
• manoeuvring conventional vessels
DP systems have become more sophisticated and complicated, as $ell as more reliable" 3omputer technology has
developed rapidly and some vessels have been upgraded t$ice $ith ne$ DP control systems" Position reference
systems and other peripherals are also improving and redundancy is provided on all vessels designed to conduct
higher%ris+ operations
1"1 % -tation 8eeping
'here are other methods for vessel station +eeping" 'hese include spread and fixed moorings or combinations of
each" 9ac+%ups fix their position by lo$ering legs to penetrate the sea bed" :essels using moorings or legs may also
occasionally have DP control systems to assist the setting%up on position and, in the case of a moored unit, to reduce
mooring line tension" #ach system has advantages and disadvantages"
-+etch 1"1 station +eeping methods
DP 5dvantages6
• :essel is fully self%propelled; no tugs are re(uired at any stage of the operation
• -etting%up on location is (uic+ and easy
• :essel is very manoeuvrable
• <apid response to $eather changes is possible ($eather vane)
• <apid response to changes in the re(uirements of the operation
• :ersatility $ithin system (i"e" trac+%follo$, <=:%follo$ and other specialist functions)
• 5bility to $or+ in any $ater depth
• 3an complete short tas+s more (uic+ly, thus more economically
• 5voidance of ris+ of damaging seabed hard$are from mooring lines and anchors
• 5voidance of cross%mooring $ith other vessels or fixed platforms
• 3an move to ne$ location rapidly (also avoid bad $eather)
DP Disadvantages6
• ,igh capex and opex
• 3an fail to +eep position due to e(uipment failure
• ,igher day rates than comparable moored systems
• ,igher fuel consumption
• 'hrusters are ha>ards for divers and <=:s
• 3an lose position in extreme $eather or in shallo$ $aters and strong tides
• Position control is active and relies on human operator (as $ell as e(uipment)
• <e(uires more personnel to operate and maintain e(uipment
)rom the above, it can be seen that DP $ill not al$ays be the most economic solution" ?hile vessels using moorings
have a number of advantages, increasingly DP is the best option for many operations because the seabed is cluttered
$ith pipelines and other hard$are, so laying anchors has a high ris+ of damage to pipelines or $ellheads" 'he option
to moor to a platform rather than the seabed is also less fre(uent, because support vessels have become larger and
platforms are not designed for the loads that can be placed in the mooring lines" @evertheless, there is a ris+ that a
DP vessel ma+es contact $ith a platform
During the 199s there $as a rapid increase in the number of vessels $ith dynamic positioning systems" Aany of
these vessels have been designed for DP and integrated control of engines and thrusters, but there are also a large
number of conversions and upgrades" 'he situation is mar+et%driven and relies on operational efficiency $hich, in
turn, places a high reliability re(uirement on e(uipment, operators and vessel managers"
2 - Basic Principles of DP
Dynamic Positioning can be described as an integration of a number of shipboard systems to obtain the ability of
accurate manoeuvrability" DP can be defined as6
A system which automatically controls a vessel’s position and heading exclusively by means of active thrust.
'he above definition includes remaining at a fixed location, but also precision manoeuvring, trac+ing and other
specialist positioning abilities"
5 convenient $ay of visualising the inter%relation of the various elements of a DP system is to divide the system into
six parts, as the follo$ing s+etch sho$s"
-+etch 4"1 % -chematic Diagram of a DP system
'he prime function of a DP system is to allo$ a vessel to maintain position and heading" 5 variety of further sub%
functions may be available, such as trac+%follo$, or $eathervane modes, but the control of position and heading is
5ny vessel (or other ob&ect) has six freedoms of movement; three rotations and three translations" In a vessel they
can be illustrated as roll, pitch, ya$, surge, s$ay and heave"
-+etch 4"4 % 'he -ix )reedoms of Aovement
Dynamic positioning is concerned $ith the automatic control of surge, s$ay and ya$" -urge and s$ay, of course,
comprise the position of the vessel, $hile ya$ is defined by the vessel heading" 1oth of these are controlled about
desired or *setpoint* values input by the operator, i"e" position setpoint, and heading setpoint" Position and heading
must be measured in order to obtain the error from the re(uired value" Position is measured by one or more of a
range of position references, $hile heading information is provided from one or more gyrocompasses" 'he difference
bet$een the setpoint and the feedbac+ is the error or offset, and the DP system operates to minimise these errors"
'he vessel must be able to control position and heading $ithin acceptable limits in the face of a variety of external
forces" If these forces are measured directly, the control computers can apply immediate compensation" 5 good
example of this is compensation for $ind forces, $here a continuous measurement is available from $indsensors"
=ther examples include plough cable tension in a vessel laying cable, and fire monitor forces in a vessel engaged in
firefighting" In these cases, forces are generated $hich, if un+no$n, $ould disturb the station +eeping if un+no$n"
-ensors connected to the cable tensioners, and the fire monitors allo$ direct feedbac+ of these *external* forces to
the DP control system and allo$ compensation to be ordered from the thruster before an excursion develops"
In addition to maintaining station and heading, DP may be used to achieve automatic change of position or heading,
or both" 'he DP operator (DP=) may choose a ne$ position using the control console facilities" 'he DP= may also
choose the speed at $hich he $ants the vessel to move" -imilarly, the operator may input a ne$ heading" 'he vessel
$ill rotate to the ne$ heading at the selected rate%of%turn, $hile maintaining station" 5utomatic changes of position
and heading simultaneously are possible"
-ome DP vessels, such as dredgers, pipelay barges and cable lay vessels have a need to follo$ a pre%determined
trac+" =thers need to be able to $eathervane about a specified spot" 'his is the mode used by shuttle tan+ers loading
from an offshore loading terminal" =ther vessels follo$ a moving target, such as a submersible vehicle (<=:), or a
seabed vehicle" In these cases the vesselBs position reference is the vehicle rather than a designated fixed location"
4"1 % DP Aodel
#very vessel is sub&ected to forces from $ind, $aves and tidal movements as $ell as forces generated from the
propulsion system and other external elements (fire monitors, pipelay tension, etc)" 'he response to these forces is
vessel movement, resulting in changes of position and heading" 'hese are measured by the position reference
systems and gyro compasses" 'he DP control system calculates the offsets bet$een the measured values of position
and heading, and the re(uired (or setpoint) values, and calculates the forces that the thrusters must generate in order
to reduce the errors to >ero" In addition the DP control system calculates the $ind force acting upon the vessel, and
the thrust re(uired to counteract it based on the model of the vessel held in the computer"
Aodelling and filtering enable a Cdead rec+oningD or CD<D mode (often called CmemoryD) to operate if all position
references are lost" 'he vessel $ill continue to maintain position automatically, although the position%+eeping $ill
deteriorate $ith the increasing length of time since the last position data received" In practical terms, this means that
the DP= does not need to immediately select *manual* control upon the loss of all position reference"
'he difference bet$een the thrust calculated from the model and the $ind speed and direction is the force ta+en as
the current" 'he current force or Csea forceD is therefore a summation of all the un+no$n forces and errors in the DP
model and displayed in the model as the speed and direction of the current"
'he first DP control systems comprised simple analogue PDI controllers that did not adapt to the actual sea
conditions and vessel and thruster errors" 3ontrol improvements, 8alman filtering and fast digital data transmission
(*data high$ays*) have enabled significant improvements in station +eeping accuracy"
3 - Elements of a DP System
0"1 % 3omputers
'he processors operating the DP control soft$are are generally +no$n as the DP computers" 'he main distinction of
concern to the DP= is the number of computers, their methods of operation, and the level of redundancy they
'he computers may be installed in single, dual or triple configurations, depending upon the level of redundancy
re(uired" Aodern systems communicate via an ethernet, or local area net$or+ (E5@), $hich may incorporate many
other vessel control functions in addition to the DP"
In all DP vessels, the DP control computers are dedicated specifically for the DP function, $ith no other tas+s" 5
single%computer system, or CsimplexD DP control system provides no redundancy" 5 dual or t$o%computer system
provides redundancy and auto%changeover if the online system fails" 5 triple or CtriplexD system provides an extra
element of security and an opportunity for 4%out%of%0 voting" 'he level of redundancy depends on the e(uipment
class selected by the vessel (see -ection ! on system redundancy)"
0"4 % 3ontrol 3onsole
'he bridge console is the facility for the DP= to send and receive data" It is the location of all control input, buttons,
s$itches, indicators, alarms and screens" In a $ell%designed vessel, position reference system control panels, thruster
panels and communications are located close to the DP control consoles"
0"1 Photos % 8ongsberg -imrad -DP console and 5lstom C5D -eries console
'he DP control console is not al$ays located on the for$ard bridge % many vessels, including most offshore support
vessels have the DP console located on the after bridge, facing aft" -huttle tan+ers may have the DP system situated
in the bo$ control station although most ne$build tan+ers incorporate the DP system on the bridge" Possibly the
least satisfactory location for the DP console is in a compartment $ith no outside vie$" 'his is the case in a fe$
older drilling rigs"
'he facilities for the operator vary from push%buttons and7or touch%screens to pull%do$n menus activated by roller
balls and CenableD buttons"
0"0 % Position <eference -ystems
'he number of position references enabled depends on a number of factors" In particular, the level of ris+ involved in
the operation, the redundancy level that is sensible for the operation, the availability of references of a suitable type,
and the conse(uences of loss of one or more position references"
5 variety of position reference systems is used by DP systems" 'he most common are6 differential global positioning
(DFP- % see -ection ."/), taut $ires, hydroacoustics (,P<), and line%of%sight laser or micro$ave systems"
'he reliability of position references is a ma&or consideration" #ach has advantages and disadvantages, so that a
combination is essential for high reliability
" Individual position reference systems are described in -ection ."
-+etch 0"4 Position reference systems
Position information from position%reference systems may be received by the DP system in many forms" In addition,
the type of co%ordinate system used may be cartesian or geodetic" 'he DP control system is able to handle
information based on either co%ordinate system" 5 3artesian, or local, co%ordinate system is based upon a flat%surface
t$o%dimensional measurement of the @orth7-outh (G) and #ast7?est (H) distances from a locally defined reference
origin" 'his reference origin $ill be ta+en from one of the position reference systems (e"g" ,P< transponder,
fanbeam reflector, taut $ire depressor $eight location)" 'his type of co%ordinate reference system is purely local, or
relative, not absolute or earth%fixed"
-+etch 0"0 Eocal reference co%ordin
)or the DP system to handle earth%referenced type of data it is necessary to configure the DP system to accept
geodetic data, or global references, such as FP-"
5 DFP- system, provides co%ordinates in terms of latitude and longitude referenced to the ?F-2. datum
" Aost
offshore operations are conducted using I'A (Iniversal 'ransverse Aercator) as the chart or $or+site diagram
pro&ection" 'his reduces the positional co%ordinates into @orthings and #astings in metres" 5 fuller description of the
I'A pro&ection and co%ordinate system is given in -ection 6"
Aost modern DP control systems enable the DP= to select the type of presentation re(uired, e"g" cartesian,
geographic (lat7long or I'A)" If the latter, the system $ill automatically calculate the I'A >one from received
geodetic position measurements" 'he datum is usually selectable from a menu"
0". % ,eading <eference
'he DP vesselDs heading is provided by one or more gyro compasses, $hich transmit data to the DP control system"
In vessels $here redundancy is necessary, then t$o or three gyros are fitted"
If three gyros are fitted, then the DP system may use t$o%out%of%three voting to detect a gyro failure, and give an
appropriate $arning to the DP=" 'hree gyros are typically fitted in vessels complying $ith e(uipment 3lass 4 or 0
5 heading reference may also be available from multiple FP- receivers % see 0"/ belo$"
0"/ % #nvironment <eference
'here are three main environmental forces $hich cause the vessel to move a$ay from her setpoint position and7or
heading" 'hey are the forces created by $ind, $aves and current" (5 description has been given in -ection 4 relating
to the determination of current values") 3urrent meters to provide feed for$ard to the DP control system are hardly
ever used by DP control systems, because they are expensive, especially if high reliability is re(uired, and generally
the current forces change slo$ly, so that integral term of the controller is ade(uate" ,o$ever, a facility exists in
some systems for C(uic+ current updateD, or Cfast learnD" 'his is a function $hich reduces the time constant of the
integral term and allo$s the mathematical model build%period to be radically reduced" 'his is intended to allo$ the
system to better react to rapidly changing tidal conditions or the ne$ conditions after a large change of heading"
'he DP control system provides no direct active compensation for $aves" In practice, the fre(uency of the $aves is
such that it is not feasible to provide compensation for individual $aves and the forces are too high" ?ave drift
forces build slo$ly and appear in the DP control system as current or sea force"
'he roll, pitch and heave motions of the vessel are not compensated for by the DP control system, but it is necessary
for the DP control system to be provided $ith accurate values of roll and pitch" 'his is to allo$ compensation to be
applied to all the various position reference sensor inputs for their offset from the centre of gravity of the vessel"
Instrumentation to measure these values is provided in the form of a vertical reference sensor (:<-), vertical
reference unit (:<I) or a motion reference unit (A<I)" 'he A<I measures accelerations by the use of linear
accelerometers and calculates inclination angles"
5 recent development is the provision of a system $hich utilises t$o or more DFP- receivers $ith antennae
mounted some distance apart" 'he FP- fixes and motion%sensors provide data on vessel position, heading, roll, pitch
and heave values" 'his is able to provide a reference for position and heading as $ell as motion in and about each
5ll DP systems have $ind sensors" 'his data is used to calculate $ind%induced forces acting upon the vesselBs hull
and structure, allo$ing these forces to be compensated before they cause a position or heading change" 'ypically, a
$ind sensor consists of a simple transmitting anemometer, usually of the rotating%cup type"
'he direction of the $ind is important for vessels needing to $ind or $eathervane, or find the minimum po$er
heading" 5 correct assessment of this heading is vitally important to some vessels, e"g" the shuttle tan+er and floating
production vessels, $hich are reliant upon finding the best heading to maximise uptime"
'he $ind sensors are important because large changes in $ind speed or direction can cause ma&or disturbances in the
positioning if they are not selected or shielded" 'he $ind feed%for$ard allo$s an immediate compensatory thrust to
be applied in direct proportion to the change detected in the $ind speed and7or direction"
Aany DP control systems also have a $ind compensation facility $ithin the manual (&oystic+) control function,
providing the operator $ith an environmentally%compensated &oystic+ control option"
0"6 % Po$er -ystems
3entral to the operation of any DP vessel are the po$er generation, supply and distribution systems" Po$er needs to
be supplied to the thrusters and all auxiliary systems, as $ell as to the DP control elements and reference systems"
'he thrusters on a DP vessel are often the highest po$er consumers on board" 'he DP control system may demand
large changes of po$er due to rapid changes in the $eather conditions" 'he po$er generation system must be
flexible in order provide po$er rapidly on demand $hile avoiding unnecessary fuel consumption" Aany DP vessels
are fitted $ith a diesel%electric po$er plant $ith all thrusters and consumers electrically po$ered from diesel engines
driving alternators" 5 diesel engine and alternator is +no$n as a diesel generator set"
-+etch 0". % Po$er Distribution on a 'ypical =-:
-ome DP vessels comprise part diesel direct%drive thrusters and part diesel electric plant and motor%driven thrusters"
5 vessel may have t$in scre$s as main propulsion driven direct by diesel engines and bo$ and stern thrusters
electrically driven, ta+ing po$er from shaft alternators coupled to the main diesels or from separate diesel generator
'he DP control system is protected against a mains po$er failure by the inclusion of an uninterruptible po$er supply
(IP-)" 'his system provides a stabilised po$er supply that is not affected by short%term interruptions or fluctuations
of the shipDs 53 po$er supply" It supplies the computers, control consoles, displays, alarms and reference systems"
In the event of an interruption to the shipBs main 53 supply, batteries $ill supply po$er to all of these systems for a
minimum of 0 minutes"
0"! % Propulsion -ystems
'he DP capability
of the vessel is provided by her thrusters" In general, three main types of thruster are fitted in DP
vessels; main propellers, tunnel thrusters and a>imuth thrusters" Aain propellers, either single or t$in scre$ are
provided in a similar fashion to conventional vessels" In DP vessels $here such main propulsion forms part of the
DP system, propellers may be controllable pitch (cp) running at constant rpm
or variable speed" D3 motors or
fre(uency%converter systems enable variable speed
to be used $ith fixed%pitch propellers" Aain propellers are
usually accompanied by conventional rudders and steering gear" @ormally, the DP installation $ill include control
and feedbac+ of the rudder(s)" -ome DP vessels are fitted $ith modern hi%lift high efficiency rudders $hich enhance
the vesselDs transverse thrust aft"
-+etch 0"/ % 'ypical Propulsion -ystem Eayouts
In addition to main propellers, a DP must have $ell%positioned thrusters to control position" 'ypically, a
conventional monohull%type DP vessel $ill have six thrusters; three at the bo$ and three aft" )or$ard thrusters tend
to be tunnel thrusters, operating ath$artships" '$o or three tunnel thrusters are usually fitted in the bo$"
-tern tunnel thrusters are common, operating together but controlled individually, as are a>imuth or compass
thrusters aft" 5>imuth thrusters pro&ect beneath the bottom of the vessel and can be rotated to provide thrust in any
direction" Propeller drive is usually by bevel gearing from above" 'he $hole unit may in some cases be retractable
into the hull" 5>imuth thrusters have the advantage that they can provide thrust in any direction and are often used as
main propulsion in lieu of conventional propellers"
5 podded thruster is also a type of a>imuth thruster, but in this case the motor and shaft are enclosed and rotate $ith
the thrusters belo$ the hull" -hip rings provide the po$er from the vessel to the rotating pod containing the drive
motor or motors"
4 - Position Reference Systems and Equipment
."1 % Feneral
5ccurate, reliable and continuous position information is essential for dynamic positioning" -ome DP operations
re(uire better than 0m relative accuracy" 5 DP control system re(uires data at a rate of once per second to achieve
high accuracy" <eliability is, of course, of vital importance, to operations $here life and property may be put at
extreme ris+ through incorrect position data
5ll DP vessels have position reference systems (P<-), (sometimes referred to as position monitoring e(uipment or
PA#), independent of the vesselBs normal navigation suite" )ive types of P<- are in common use in DP vessels;
,ydroacoustic Position <eference (,P<), 'aut ?ire, DFP-, Easer%based systems ()anbeam and 3y-can) and
5rtemis" 5 brief description $ill be given of each"
DP control systems CpoolD, or combine, position reference data from t$o or more position reference systems" If only
one position reference system is enabled into the DP then it is simply chec+ed, filtered and used" If t$o or more are
available, then the system needs to use both e(ually or according to their individual performance"
In all modern DP systems the $eighted average option can be selected, $hereby individual position references are
$eighted in inverse proportion to the variance or CspreadD of position data; the higher the $eighting for an individual
position reference system, the greater the influence of that system in the position calculation"
#arly DP control systems did not have the capability to learn from the past performance other than by the integral
terms of the controller" Aodern systems are able to improve station +eeping performance by using a 8arman filter,
$hich provides a model of recent performance to improve present performance"
)or any operations re(uiring DP redundancy (e(uipment 3lass 4 or 0 operations) it is necessary to utilise three
position references" '$o P<-s are not ade(uate, because if one has failed, contradictory reference data provides an
impass, $hereas three systems provide t$o%out%of%three voting to identify a rogue sensor"
?here three P<-s are re(uired, the DP= should choose systems that are different" 'his reduces the probability of
common%mode failure, $here one event may result in a loss of position"
5 brief description $ill be given of the five commonly used position reference systems"
."4 % ,ydroacoustic Position <eference (,P<)
Inder$ater acoustics have many applications, one of $hich is the provision of position reference for DP purposes
5coustic positioning is also used for trac+ing of under$ater vehicles or e(uipment, the mar+ing of under$ater
features or hard$are and the control of subsea e(uipment by means of acoustic telemetry"
'here are three types of acoustic position reference systems in common use % ultra% or super%short baseline systems
(I-1E or --1E), short baseline systems (-1E) and long baseline systems (E1E)" #ach has advantages and
disadvantages $hich determine $hen and ho$ each is used"
4.2.1 - ltra- or Super-S!ort Baseline "coustic System
'he principle of position measurement involves communication at hydroacoustic fre(uencies bet$een a hull%
mounted transducer and one or more seabed%located transponders" 'he ultra% or super%short baseline (--1E)
principle means that the measurement of the solid angle at the transducer is over a very short baseline (the transducer
-+etch ."1 --1E principles
5n interrogating pulse is transmitted from the transducer" 'his pulse is received by the transponder on the seabed,
$hich is triggered to reply" 'he transmitted reply is received at the transducer" 'he transmit7receive time delay is
proportional to the slant and range" -o range and direction are determined" 'he angles and range define the position
of the ship relative to that of the transponder" 'he measured angles must be compensated for values of roll and pitch"
'he vessel must deploy at least one battery%po$ered transponder" 'hey can be deployed by do$nline from the
vessel, by an <=: or simply dropped overboard"
'he performance of an acoustic system is often limited by acoustic conditions in the $ater" @oise from vessel
thrusters and other sources, aeration and turbulence
14, 10
$ill all be detrimental to efficient acoustic positioning"
'hus the limits of the system are ill%defined" In addition, layering can cause errors, especially $hen the hori>ontal
displacement from the vessel is large"
5coustic systems are supplied by a number of manufacturers, notably 8ongsberg -imrad, -onardyne and @autronix"
5ll use fre(uencies in the 4%0 +,> band" -ome transponders are compatible $ith more than one supplierDs
4.2.2 - #on$ Baseline System
In deep$ater locations, $here the accuracy of the other types degrades, the long baseline (E1E) becomes more
appropriate" E1E systems are in extensive use in drilling operations in deep $ater areas (J1,m)"
-+etch ."4 E1E system
'he long baseline system uses an array of three or more transponders laid on the seabed in the vicinity of the
$or+site" 'ypically the array $ill form a pentagon (/ transponders) on the seabed, $ith the drillship at the centre
above" =ne transducer upon the vessel interrogates the transponder array, but instead of measuring range and angular
information, ranges only are measured, because the baseline distances have already been calibrated (distances
bet$een transponders)" Position reference is obtained from range%range geometry from the transponder locations"
3alibration is done by allo$ing each transponder to interrogate all the others in the array, in turn" If, at the same
time, the vessel has a DFP- or other geographically%referenced system, then the transponder array may also be
geographically calibrated" 5ccuracy is of the order of a fe$ metres, but the update rate can be slo$ in deep $ater
because the speed of sound in sea $ater is about 1,/ m7sec"
4.2.3 - S!ort Baseline System
5 short baseline is li+e a long baseline system, except that there is an array of transducers (hydrophones), spread
along the underside of the DP vessel and the baseline(s) are the distances bet$een them" 'hus the accuracy can be
better than the ultra% or super%short baseline type of system and $or+ $ith one transponder or beacon, but it still
relies on vessel motion corrections" -ome vessels have as many as eight hull penetrations for tubes or poles on $hich
the hydrophones are deployed"
."0 % 'aut ?ire Position <eference
5 taut $ire is a useful position reference, particularly $hen the vessel may spend long periods in a static location and
the $ater depth is limited" 'he commonest consists of a crane assembly on dec+, usually mounted at the side of the
vessel and a depressor $eight on a $ire lo$ered by a constant%tension $inch" 5t the end of the crane boom angle
sensors detect the angle of the $ire" 'he $eight is lo$ered to the seabed and the $inch s$itched to constant tension,
or CmooringD mode" )rom then on, the $inch operates to maintain a constant tension on the $ire and hence to detect
the movements of the vessel" 'he length of $ire deployed, together $ith the angle of the $ire, defines the position of
the sensor head $ith reference to the depressor $eight once the vertical distance from the sheave of the crane boom
to the seabed is +no$n" 'his is measured on deployment"
-+etch ."0 % 'aut ?ire Principles
'hese angles are corrected at the taut $ire or by the DP control system for vessel inclinations (roll and pitch angles
and motion)"
:ertical taut $ire systems have limitations on $ire angle because of the increasing ris+ of dragging the $eight as
angles increase" 5 typical maximum $ire angle is 4 degrees, at $hich point the DP system $ill initiate a $arning"
-ome vessels also have hori>ontal or surface taut $ires that can be used $hen close to a fixed structure or vessel
from $hich a position must be maintained" 'he principle of operation is the same, but a secure fixing point is
re(uired rather than a $eight"
.". % 'he DFP- Position <eference -ystem
DFP- has become the most commonly%used position reference for DP operations
1., 1/
" 'he I- Department of
Defense (DoD) Flobal Positioning -ystem (FP-) is in $idespread general use, $ith typical accuracies available
from the FP- -tandard Positioning -ervice (-P- % civilian access) of 4m (62K <A- or 1 sigma)" Prior to Aay
4 the DoD applied a further do$ngrading +no$n as Cselective availabilityD (-5), $hich reduced -P- accuracy to
values around 1m" -5 has been s$itched off, but the DoD reserves the right to re%apply it" #ven $ithout -5, FP-
accuracy is not ade(uate for DP purposes"
In order to improve FP- accuracy to levels useful for DP, differential corrections are applied to FP- data" 'his is
done by establishing reference stations at +no$n points on the ?F- 2. spheroid (the $or+ing spheroid of the FP-
system)" 'he pseudo ranges derived by the receiver are compared $ith those computed from the +no$n locations of
the satellites and reference station, and a Pseudo%<ange 3orrection (P<3) derived for each satellite" 'hese
corrections are then included in a telemetry message sent to the shipDs receiver by a data lin+" 'he receiver then
applies the P<3s to the observed pseudo ranges to compute a differentially corrected position"
Differential FP- systems are provided on%board by a service provider" 'he provider maintains and operates a
net$or+ of reference stations $orld$ide and $ill install receiving e(uipment on%board to access the services"
4.4.1 - %et&or' D(PS
Aost DFP- services accept multiple differential inputs obtained from an array of reference stations $idely
separated" Fenerally, net$or+ DFP- systems provide greater stability and accuracy, and remove more of the
ionospheric error than obtainable from a single reference station" @et$or+ systems are more comprehensively
monitored at the ,ub, or control stations, $here user information or $arning data may be generated and sent out"
-+etch .". % @et$or+ DFP- configuration
'he choice of $hich lin+ to hire or purchase must be made based on the vesselBs expected $or+ areas" If a vessel is
expected to be $or+ing near fixed platforms, a local ,) connection can be best" )or floating production, storage and
offloading ()P-=) vessels, a local I,) lin+ and relative FP- solution can be the best arrangement"
'he accuracy obtainable from DFP- systems is in the area of 1%0m dependent upon the distances to the reference
stations, ionospheric conditions, and the constellation of satellites available" DFP- tends to be less reliable in close
proximity to large structures (ie" platforms) due to interference to satellite and differential signals" DFP-
performance near the magnetic e(uator has suffered due to scintillation (sun spot activity causing ionospheric
disturbances)" 'his reached a pea+ in 41 $ith the maximum of the 11%year sunspot cycle"
4.4.2 - Relati)e (PS
-ome DP operations re(uire the positioning of a vessel relative to a moving structure" 5n example of this is the
operation of a DP shuttle tan+er loading via a bo$ loading hose from the stern of an )P-=" 'he )P-= may be turret%
moored, so it can $eathervane" 'he stern of the )P-= describes the arc of a circle, as $ell as surge s$ay and ya$
motions, providing a complex positioning problem for the shuttle tan+er"
-+etch ."/ % <elative FP-
5n 5rtemis
and a D5<P- system (Differential, 5bsolute and <elative Positioning -ystem) are configured to
handle this problem" )or the measurement of relative position by FP-, differential corrections are not needed, as the
errors induced are the same for the shuttle tan+er as they are for the )P-=" 5 D5<P- transmitter on the )P-= sends
the received FP- data to the I,) receiver aboard the shuttle tan+er" 5 computer aboard the shuttle tan+er then
calculates a range7bearing from the )P-=Ds stern, $hich is put in to the DP control system as position reference in
the same $ay as 5rtemis"
4.4.3 - *!e (#+%"SS system
FE=@5-- (the Flobal @avigation -atellite -ystem
) is the <ussian counterpart to the 5merican FP-, being
similar in design and operation" 'he system $as initiated $ith the first satellite launches in 1924, and by 1996, 4.
operational satellites $ere in orbit" ,o$ever, this number has not been maintained and the number available has, at
times, been inade(uate for good positioning"
'he principles and practice of position determination $ith FE=@5-- are identical to that of FP-, using pseudo%
range measurement from time and ephemeris data transmitted from the satellites"
'he higher orbital inclination of FE=@5-- satellites (6/L), compared to the FP- constellation (//L), results in
better satellite availability in higher latitudes" 'he limited satellite availability precludes the use of FE=@5-- as a
continuous position reference for DP" 5 number of combined FP-7FE=@5-- receivers are available" 'hese have
the effect of increasing the number of usable satellites $ithin vie$ of the observer"
."/ % Easer%1ased Position <eference
'$o laser DP position references are in use %)anbeam and 3y-can
1oth systems loc+ onto a single target and7or a number of targets on the structure, from $hich position must be
maintained"Eight pulses are sent and received so that range and bearing can be measured"
<anges vary according to $eather conditions, $hen the systems $ill be affected by reduced optical visibility"
, - DP +perations
/"1 % Diving and <=: -upport =perations
Aany DP vessels are designed specifically for supporting divers (DP D-:s)" =ther vessels have a multi%role
function, including diver support" 'he variety of $or+ that may be conducted by a diver is almost endless6 carrying
out inspection or survey $or+, installation and configuration of e(uipment, monitoring of an operation, or recovery
of lost or abandoned e(uipment" Auch of the $or+ hitherto conducted by diver is increasingly carried out by <=:s
(remotely operated vehicles % unmanned submersible vehicles) but there are still tas+s $hich cannot be completed
remotely, and $hich re(uire human intervention"
'here are different types of under$ater operations" B5ir rangeB diving is limited to a depth of /m" 'he techni(ue is
so called because the diverBs breathing gas is compressed air"
-+etch /"1 % Diving techni(ues
'he ha>ards of diving from vessels $ith rotating thrusters and propellers are obvious" =ne vital re(uirement of any
diving set%up, from a DP vessel, is that the amount of umbilical the diver may be given, measured from the tending
point (bas+et or bell) must be at least /m less than the distance to the nearest thruster" 'his is to ensure that the diver
cannot be dra$n into a thruster or propeller" 'his can be broadly illustrated by the s+etch belo$"
-+etch /"4 % Imbilical length restrictions
1elo$ /m the diver must be deployed from a diving bell and his breathing gas is a helium7oxygen mix (,eliox)"
'he diving bell maintains the diver at the pressure of the $or+ing depth, and mates $ith a hyperbaric complex on
board the vessel" 'he divers live in this hyperbaric chamber, also maintained at pressure, for up to 42 days, travelling
*to $or+* in the diving bell" 'his techni(ue is +no$n as *saturation diving*" 'he bell is usually deployed through the
moonpool, an open $ell in the centre of the vessel" 5 typical *bell run* $ould consist of three divers (t$o s$immers
and a bell%man) operating for an eight hour shift" 'he s$immers are provided $ith all gas, hot $ater for heating, and
communications through umbilicals connected to the bell and ultimately to the vessel"
5t present the practical limit for bell diving is about 0m" 5t greater depths than this, the $or+ must be done by
deep%$ater <=: or a diver in an atmospheric diving suit (5D-) must do the $or+" <=:s or unmanned submersibles
are increasingly sophisticated units able to operate a $ide variety of tooling, sensors and other instrumentation"
/"4 % -urvey and <=: -upport
-upport vessels of this type may perform a multitude of tas+s from hydrographic survey, $rec+ investigation,
under$ater recovery, site survey, installation inspection and maintenance" 5lthough the tas+ itself may be relatively
non%ha>ardous, the location itself may have ha>ards, especially if in close proximity to a platform structure"
-+etch /"0 % <=: 'ether Aanagement -ystem ('A-)
5n <=: may be deployed direct from a gantry or C5D frame at the side or stern of the vessel, or from a tether
management system ('A-) incorporating a cage or garage" If deployment is directly overside then great care must be
ta+en to ensure that the umbilical does not foul the thrusters or propellers" 'he DP control system of the support
vessel can be put into a Cfollo$ subD or Cfollo$ targetD mode for this $or+, $here the acoustic transponder on the
vehicle becomes the position reference"
-+etch /". % )ollo$ 'arget
/"0 % -eabed 'ractors and 'renchers
5 seabed tractor or trencher may be configured to lay and bury a cable" 'hese vehicles are trac+ed cra$lers, built to
be controlled from the vessel, $ith operators CdrivingD the unit as if they $ere on board" 'hese units usually move
slo$ly, depending on soil conditions" In some cases an <=: is deployed independently, to record progress and
'renchers for pipeline burial are much larger and heavier" 'he trencher is lo$ered onto the seabed over the pipeline
and the DP control system can set the centre%of%rotation of the trencher"
-+etch /"/ % trenching operation
/". % Pipelay =perations
Aany pipelay operations are conducted by DP lay barges"
-+etch /"6 % Pipelay methods
In a typical -%lay barge, the pipe is constructed in a linear pipe fabrication facility called the *)iring Eine* in $hich a
number of stages of $elding ta+e place" #ach operation is conducted at a *station*" )urther stations conduct G%ray
and @D' testing on the $elded &oints, anti%corrosion coating, and $eight%coating if necessary" 5t intervals, the DP=
initiates a move ahead a distance e(uivalent to the &oint%length" =nce the move ahead has been completed, the firing%
line operations continue"
It is essential that tension is maintained on the pipeline" 5t the bac+ end of the firing line, the pipe is held by a
number of pipe tensioners, or caterpillar trac+s clamping the pipe" 'he tensioners control the movement of the pipe,
maintaining a set tension on the pipe string" 'he pipe is supported aft of the firing line by the *stinger*, $hich is an
open lattice gantry extending beyond the stern of the vessel, sloping do$n$ards" 'ension on the pipe is needed to
prevent pipe damage from buc+ling" 'he set tension is to ensure a smooth catenary to the touchdo$n point on the
seabed" If tension is lost, then damage $ill occur at the touchdo$n area"
Pipe tension values are communicated to the DP system $hich is continually providing thrust commands to maintain
tension, position and heading"
Pipelay operations are particularly dependent upon environmental conditions" 'he vessel must be able to cope
effectively $ith the tides, sea state and $ind conditions from most directions, because it is not possible to allo$ the
vessel to $eathervane"
,.4.1 - --#ay +perations
In deeper $ater, -%lay is not feasible and 9%lay is common" In 9%lay operations, the stinger is configured as a to$er,
angled bet$een the vertical, and up to 4 degrees from the vertical" Pipe lengths are pre%&ointed into triple or
(uadruple &oints before being raised to the vertical for $elding onto the pipestring"
,.4.2 - Reel-#ay +perations
'his type of operation varies from those described in that the pipestring is prefabricated in one length at a shore%
based factory" 'he vessel loads the pipeline straight from the factory, spooling it onto a reel or into a carousel" 'he
vessel can transit to site $ith the pipe to lay it by feeding it off the reel7carousel via straighteners and tensioners,
either singly or as a bundle"
/"/ % <oc+ Dumping =perations
<oc+ dumping vessels have DP systems for accurately dumping roc+ on the seabed for a variety of reasons" 'hey
range from mini%bul+ carriers, able to carry out burial operations using fallpipes, to smaller dec+%loading vessels
mainly used for erosion rectification pro&ects" 5ll of these vessels that $or+ in the offshore industry are fitted $ith
DP systems, because good trac+ speed control, and hence uniform, economic roc+ distribution, is possible"
'he commonest need for roc+ dumping is to provide protection to untrenched pipelines"
-+etch /"! % roc+dumpi
5 commonly used feature is the Cauto%trac+D function of the DP control system, $hich enables the vessel to trac+
accurately along a line defined from the preset $aypoints of an earlier pipeline survey"
-+etch /"2 % 5utotrac+ or 'rac+ )ollo$
'his type of vessel is also used to provide protection against tidal scour or erosion, $hich occurs in high tidal stream
areas" 'he sediment around the legs of a 9ac+%up drilling rig, for example, can become eroded to the point $here the
rig becomes unstable"
/"6 % Dredging =perations
Aost ne$ dredgers no$ have a DP capability, because they $ish to move along parallel trac+s" )or the trailing
suction dredger, for example, the trac+s must be close together $ith minimum overlap" 'his is ideal for Ctrac+
follo$D abilities of the DP control system"
:essels dredging for aggregates can re(uire precise positioning to ensure they are dredging in licensed areas and to
assist $ith locating particular types of material"
/"! % 3able Eay and <epair =perations
Aodern fibre%optic cables are more fragile than traditional cables, so they have more limitations on loadings and
bend radii" 'hus it is no$ common to use DP vessels for cable lay and repair"
-+etch /"9 % 3able lay methods
)or cable lay operations $ithin coastal $aters or other shallo$%$ater areas, it is often necessary to bury the cable in
order to prevent damage from fishing gear" ?hen a plough is used, it is to$ed by the ship, in a similar manner to a
tractor to$ing an agricultural plough across a field" 'his reduces the po$er available for station +eeping"
'he phase of the operation $here the DP capability proves most useful is the shore%end tie%in" 'his is $here the
vessel comes to the end of the lay, a short distance from *the beach*, to complete the connection" 'his involves the
vessel +eeping a fixed location, close to the shore, in shallo$ $ater, $here strong tides may also stream"
/"2 % 3rane 1arge =perations
3rane barges are employed all over the $orld in construction and de%commissioning operations relating to the oil
and gas industries, and also in civil construction pro&ects" 'hey are also used in salvage and $rec+ removal
Aany crane barge and construction vessels are DP%capable % the larger ones generally to IA= e(uipment 3lass 0"
'he ma&or advantage of DP to these vessels is the ability to complete a tas+ in a very short time span, because the
time needed to lay and recover moorings is saved, as is the ris+ of the moorings damaging nearby pipelines and
/"9 % Aobile =ffshore Drilling Inits (A=DIs)
Deep$ater developments offshore in the Fulf of Aexico, offshore 1ra>il, ?est 5frica and the I8 ?est of -hetland
have made DP the only real option, as moorings are depth%limited" #ven in shallo$er $aters, DP is increasingly used
for the positioning of drilling rigs $hile anchors are run" 5 DP rig or drillship may locate onto the $or+site and
commence drilling earlier than a similar rig using anchors" 'his is an advantage, particularly $hen only one or t$o
$ells are being drilled"
,...1 - DP Drillin$ +perations
'he centre of rotation used by the DP control system is the centre of the drill floor rotary table, $hich for both
monohulls or semi%submersible rigs is usually in the centre of the vessel"
)or drilling operations, it is important for the vessel to +eep over the $ell, such that the riser connecting the vessel to
the $ell is practically vertical" 'he profile of the riser is, ho$ever, determined by current forces and tension, as $ell
as by vessel position" 'he parameter that is continuously monitored is the lo$er main riser angle" If this exceeds 0L,
action needs to be ta+en so that it does not get $orse and force an un$anted disconnection"
)or each $ell or location, the rig $ill have $ell%specific operational guidelines (?-=F), $hich determine $hen
alerts are to be given and $hat action is appropriate" ?atch circles might be used and set $hich are distances that
represent angles at the lo$er end of the riser"
-+etch /"1 % Deep$ater drilling % the <iser 5ngle Aode
-ome DP control systems have a function +no$n as Criser angle modeD" ?hen selected, the DP continues $ith a
geographical position reference, but moves to reduce the riser angle" 'he reference for positioning is the angle of the
riser at the stac+, using sensors attached to the riser and the lo$er marine riser pac+age (EA<P)" 'hese sensors may
be electrical inclinometers, hard%$ired to the rig up the riser or a Differential Inclinometer 'ransponder assembly,
sending angular and positional information acoustically via the ,P< system interfaced to the DP"
'he DP system aboard the rig $ill have special display pages sho$ing <iser angle offsets as part of a Position Plot
display page"
DP rigs are currently configured to operate in $ater depths of up to 0m" In these $ater depths the most reliable
form of position reference is DFP-" '$o or three separate and distinct DFP- systems provide redundancy, provided
that different differential correction lin+s are used" )urther position%reference is obtained via deep $ater Eong
1aseline acoustic systems"
/"1 % =ffta+e 'an+er and )P-= =perations
'an+ers intended to load at =ffshore Eoading 'erminals (=E's) $ill be fitted $ith systems very similar to those in
any other DP%capable vessel, but configured specifically for the offshore loading function"
'he installations $hich support offta+e tan+er operations vary from field to field" 'ypical installations are -par
buoys, $hich are large floating to$er structures moored by a spread of mooring lines" -par buoys usually carry a
rotating turntable at the top to handle vessel moorings and hose handling e(uipment"
-+etch /"11 % =E' configurations
5 I8=E- facility has a loading hose connected to a mid%$ater buoy" 'he buoy is positively buoyant and is moored
at a fixed depth, above a gravity%based housing or pipeline end manifold (PE#A)" :essels using this facility have no
need for a mooring ha$ser; the only connection to the buoy is the hose" 5 more recent development is the
submerged turret loading (-'E) system, $here the loading connections are located in a subsea buoy" 'he buoy is
moored above the PE#A at a depth greater than the draught of the offta+e vessel" 'he -'E is mated into a doc+ing
port built into the forebody of the vessel, and carries the flo$line connections to the vessel" =nce loc+ed into
position, the vessel is able to $eathervane using the s$ivel through the centre of the -'E" 5 development of the -'E
is used for production"
-+etch /"14 % -huttle tan+er
/"11 % )P-= Init =peration
)loating Production, -torage and =ffta+e units are becoming common in many parts of the $orld" Aany )P-=s are
able to $eathervane around the turret and maintain heading into the $eather"
-+etch /"10 % )P-=7shuttle tan+er offta+e arrang
Aost )P-=s utilise offta+e tan+ers for export of oil, and these tan+ers are usually DP%capable" ?ith any
)P-=7offta+e tan+er operation, the tan+er $ill experience more positioning problems than $hen loading from an
5EP" 'he offta+e vessel +eeps position $ithin a circle defined by the length of the loading hose" 'he reference
position is the hose terminal point on the stern of the )P-=" 'he mooring and positioning system in the )P-= allo$s
a degree of movement, especially in deep $ater, so the )P-= may be continually $eathervaning, so that the shuttle
tan+er reference point $ill be moving" 'he shuttle tan+er can try to follo$ this movement or position absolutely to
pre%set limits"
In )P-= offta+e operations, a relative position reference is essential" =ne such position reference is the relative FP-
(D5<P-) system, yielding position information reduced to range7bearing data from the )P-= terminal location"
5nother position reference is 5rtemis, $ith the fixed station located on the )P-= and the mobile station located on
the tan+er" 'he prime consideration is the clearance distance from the )P-= so that the collision ris+ is minimised
/"14 % =ther )unctions and =perations Itilising DP
'he various operations described above are the commonest" ,o$ever, DP is rapidly expanding and ne$ applications
are being found"
,.12.1 - Passen$er /essels
Aodern cruise vessels have shallo$ draughts to allo$ access to a greater range of cruise destinations, and ever larger
freeboards" 'his shallo$%draught, high%freeboard configuration leads to shiphandling problems in tight berthing
locations" 'he addition of DP to the suite of facilities available to these vessels improves their flexibility and avoids
anchoring in sensitive seabed areas"
,.12.2 - Specialist Semi-Su0mersi0le 1ea)y-#ift /essels
:essels intended to carry huge modules of heavy e(uipment to remote locations $ill often experience difficulty in
both loading and off%loading their cargoes" -ome of these vessels are of monohull, semi%submersible form, able to
submerge to a loading draught, allo$ing the cargo to be floated aboard" 5 typical cargo may be a &ac+%up drilling rig
for transport half$ay around the $orld" DP facilities may be used during the loading operation"
,.12.3 - 2ilitary +perations and /essels
5 number of nations are ma+ing use of DP facilities in their naval and auxiliary fleets" :essels for mine
countermeasures, amphibious landing and for$ard repair are all good examples"
3 - DP /essel +perations
?ith any DP vessel operation, comprehensive planning is essential" 'he operational re(uirements of the tas+ in hand
must be thoroughly discussed $ith the client, and a detailed plan of the preferred se(uence of events compiled" 'he
plan must include the approach to the $or+site and set%up, together $ith the positional re(uirements of the tas+
itself" 5t all stages there must be ade(uate contingency plans made"
6"1 % =perational Planning
DP operators (DP=s) must be familiar $ith the details of the $or+site and of the tas+s planned" In many operations
the vessel is simply providing a $or+ing platform for a pro&ect team, but it is essential that the +ey DP personnel are
familiar $ith the detail of the operation and the possible ha>ards"
3.1.1 - 4ontin$ency Plannin$
It is important that the planning of the $or+site approach includes assessment of the various options for reaching a
safe situation in foreseeable situations and ha>ards" =ne contingency $ill be for a po$er or thrust capability shortage
caused by partial blac+out or thruster failure" =ther possibilities include failure of computer systems or position%
reference systems, causing a drive%off
" 'he vessel should be able to reach a safe situation, $hich might re(uire exit
from the $or+site, often the $orst%case single%point failure"
'he DP= $ill ma+e good use of plans and $or+site diagrams provided by the client, either in paper or in electronic
form" 'hese dra$ings are li+ely to be prepared in I'A pro&ection and co%ordinates" 5 description of this follo$s
6"4 % 'he I'A 3o%=rdinate -ystem
5 Feodetic co%ordinate system in $idespread use is I'A, or Iniversal 'ransverse Aercator" 'his is a flat%surface,
s(uare%grid pro&ection defined by a I'A >one number, and a @orthing and #asting distance from the >ero point of
the >one" -ome position reference systems, such as DFP-, may put out positions in I'A co%ordinates"
'he Iniversal 'ransverse Aercator (I'A) pro&ection is used extensively for survey and other offshore $or+"
I'A is a cylindrical pro&ection $ith the axis of the cylinder coincident $ith the plane of the e(uator; the line of
contact bet$een the cylinder and the sphere is thus a meridian"
-+etch 6"1 % I'A
=bviously a single cylindrical pro&ection of this type cannot be used to chart the $hole terrestrial surface" 'he useful
scope of the pro&ection consists of a >one 6Lof longitude in $idth, centred upon the contact or *3entral* meridian"
?ithin this >one distortions are minimal" Mones are identified by a number" 'he numbering scheme is based upon
Mone 1 being the area bet$een the 12N meridian and Eongitude 1!.N ?est, $ith the central meridian at 1!!N?"
-uccessive >ones are numbered in an easterly direction, $ith the @orth -ea generally being covered by Mone 01
ranging from the Freen$ich Aeridian to 6N#, $ith the 3entral Aeridian at 0N#" 'here are sixty >ones in total"
?ithin a particular >one, the @orthings and #astings (in metres) are arranged to increase in a @orth$ard and an
#ast$ard direction, respectively, irrespective of position upon the globe" )or @orthings the datum is the e(uator,
$ith @orthern hemisphere @orthings having a value of >ero on the e(uator, and increasing north$ards" )or the
-outhern hemisphere, a false @orthing of 1,, is added to the (negative) values" 'his resolves the problem of
re(uiring positive values increasing @orth$ards throughout"
5 false #asting of /, is established on the central meridian, $ith #asting values increasing in an easterly
direction" 'his allo$s the $hole >one to be covered by positive #asting values"
6"0 % ?or+site 5pproach
)or some vessels, transfer of control must be made from the navigation bridge to the DP console in another location"
'he vessel $ill change over $ell clear of any obstructions, usually outside the /m >one, and complete a DP
chec+list" Items to be chec+ed or tested include main engine7thruster control functions, communications (external
:,)7internal) radar and navigation aids, gyrocompasses and steering systems" In addition, chec+s are made on
specialist operational items associated $ith the $or+" 'hese chec+s involve the +ey DP personnel on the bridge and
in the engine control room" 'hrusters and main propellers must be *proved* by ta+ing manual control and trying
each thruster each $ay, chec+ing response and feedbac+" =nce transfer is complete the $atch+eeper may turn his
attention to the DP control system
6". % )inal -etting%Ip
)or some DP operations, further chec+s are executed in the final $or+ing position" 5 settling period of about thirty
minutes is allo$ed, ensuring that the DP control system has time to build the mathematical model" During this time
the bridge $atch+eepers should complete the pre%operational chec+list, and verify that pre%operational chec+lists are
complete at other locations, such as the engine control room"
'he bridge team must be a$are of the significant change in status that may occur once the go%ahead (green light) is
given for the operation to commence" =nce the Cgreen lightD is given, the contingency plan may change, because it
must allo$ for the vessel to maintain position and heading ade(uately to reach a safe situati
5 - Information for 6ey DP Personnel
!"1 % )ailure Aode and #ffects 5nalysis
)or all DP vessels, all failure modes and their effects should be considered in a formal )A#5 (failure modes and
effects analysis) study
" 'he presence of an )A#5 document is often a re(uirement of the pre%charter auditing and
inspection process, as $ell as being a re(uirement of the classification society for DP class notation" 'he modes that
should be considered are the sudden loss of ma&or items of e(uipment, the sudden or se(uential loss of several items
of e(uipment $ith a common lin+, and various control instability failures" )aults that can be hidden until another
fault occurs should also be considered" 5lso to be considered are the methods of detection and isolation of the fault
mentioned" =perator responses to the types of failure considered should be reflected in the vesselBs operations
manual" 'he )A#5 should consider li+ely operational scenarios of the vessel, such as shallo$ $ater, high tidal
stream rates and limited provision of position reference" -ee <ef" 16 for further information on )A#5s"
<edundancy levels are defined by the IA= document A-373irc"6./ % "Guidelines for Vessels with Dynamic
Positionin ystems"
and the IA35 document "Guidelines for the Design ! "peration of Dynamically Positioned
" 'hree Ce(uipment classesD are defined, summarised in the IA35 guidelines as follo$s6
#(uipment 3lass 1
Eoss of position may occur in the event of a single fault
#(uipment 3lass 4
Eoss of position should not occur from a single fault of an active component or system such as generators,
thruster, s$itchboards remote controlled valves etc" 1ut may occur after failure of a static component such as
cables, pipes, manual valves etc"
#(uipment 3lass 0
Eoss of position should not occur from any single failure including a completely burnt fire sub division or
flooded $atertight compartment"
5 single fault includes a single inadvertent act by any person on board the DP :essel"
In basic terms, e(uipment 3lass 1 refers to non%redundant vessels, 3lass 4 relates to vessels $ith full redundancy of
systems and e(uipment, $hile vessels built or fitted to e(uipment 3lass 0 are able to $ithstand the loss of all
systems in any one compartment from the effects of fire or flooding"
!"4 % 3lassification -ocieties
5 number of classification societies issue class notations for DP%capable vessels" 'he notations from each of the
societies vary, but refer to the compliance $ith the e(uipment classes" 'he follo$ing table lists the class notations
and corresponding e(uipment classes for EloydDs <egister, Dn: and 51-6
Corresponding Class Notations
Aanual position control and automatic heading control under specified maximum
environmental conditions

DP(3A) D@:%' DP-%
5utomatic and manual position and heading control under specified maximum
environmental conditions
3lass 1 DP(5A)
5utomatic and manual position and heading control under specified maximum
environmental conditions, during and follo$ing any single fault excluding loss of a
compartment" ('$o independent computer systems)"
3lass 4 DP(55)
5utomatic and manual position and heading control under specified maximum
environmental conditions, during and follo$ing any single fault including loss of a
compartment due to fire or flood" (5t least t$o independent computer systems $ith a
separate bac+up system separated by 56 class division)"
3lass 0
!"0 % 3onse(uence 5nalysis
=ne of the re(uirements of the IA= 3lass 4 and 0 guidelines, is a system of =nline 3onse(uence 5nalysis to be
incorporated in the DP system" 'his function continually performs an analysis of the vesselBs ability to maintain its
position and heading after a predefined, $orst case failure during operation" Possible conse(uences are based on the
actual $eather conditions, enabled thrusters and po$er plant status" 'ypical $orst%case single failures are6
• failure in the most critical thruster
• failure in one thruster group
• failure in one po$er bus section
If the conse(uence of the predefined failure is a loss of position, it is reported to the operator via the DP alarm
system" 'he conse(uence analysis can operate for different configurations and give 3lass 4 or 3lass 0 alarms and
$arnings" 5 typical alarm message is *3onse(uence 5nalysis Drift%=ff 5larm*" 'he associated description reads6
*-ingle $orst case failure $ill cause drift%off*" 'he analysis function typically runs every minute and averages over
the last minute"
!". % ?atch+eeping
'here are many different DP vessels and DP operations" -ome tas+s re(uire the vessel to maintain a static or
relatively static position for days or even months on end (drillships, flotels)" =ther vessels $ill be continually
manoeuvring in order to execute their $or+" Irrespective of the $or+ the ?atch+eeping principles are similar and
some general $atch+eeping procedures are included here
-ome 3lass 1 vessels operate $ith one DP= on $atch, but the ma&ority of DP operations are carried out $ith t$o
operators manning the bridge" =n some vessels, one DP= mans the DP des+ exclusively, $hile the other
$atch+eeper carries out all other bridge functions" 'hese t$o individuals then s$ap roles every hour" 'he $atch
relief arrangement should allo$ staggered $atch change%over such that there are never t$o fresh DP=s ta+ing over
at the same time" ?hen ta+ing over the $atch, DP=s must familiarise themselves $ith certain aspects of the
management of the vessel at that time" 'he list of information that the bridge team must ac(uire at this time includes
(but is not limited to) the follo$ing6
• Position and heading of the vessel
• -tatus and recent performance of the DP system and its peripherals
• Details of Position <eference -ystems in use and their performance
• 5vailability of further P<- on failure of the above
• Eevel of redundancy
• -tatus of the operation in hand" Planned changes7progress for the coming $atch"
• Details and status of any operational elements (e"g" if the vessel is a D-: and diving operations are
under$ay, then the status, position, depth of the diving bell or bas+et, the number of divers in the $ater, their
umbilical lengths and expected return times, also details of their operational tas+)
• ?eather conditions and forecasts
• 3ommunications, on%board and external
• 'raffic in the area" 5ny planned traffic movements that may affect the vessel and her operation or positioning
• 5ny planned helicopter operations
!"/ % 3hec+lists
3hec+lists are an essential and accepted feature of most DP operations" It is essential that chec+lists are treated as an
aid to memory and not as a complete substitute for Cthin+ingD" It is very easy for one person in a hurry to fill out a
chec+list $ithout chec+ing many of the items contained therein" 3hec+lists need updating from time to time, as ne$
important points are found and e(uipment is modified or updated" 3hec+lists are usually controlled documents
$ithin the shipo$nerDs (uality assurance system, $here alterations may be seen as a Cnon%conformanceD and change
ta+es too long"
'ypical chec+lists to be maintained by the $atch+eeping DP= include6
• Pre%DP chec+list
• Pre%operational chec+list
• ?atch hand%over chec+list
• Periodic DP chec+list
• A3< chec+list
7 - DP+ *rainin$
2"1 % 'he 'raining and #xperience of 8ey DP Personnel
IA35Ds document *'he 'raining and #xperience of 8ey DP Personnel*
has been referenced by IA=, $hich, in
1996, considered the issue of training of dynamic position system (DP) operators in relation to paragraph ."14 of the
1929 A=DI 3ode and noted that this IA35 document could be used as a guideline for the training of DP operators,
encouraging member governments to bring them to the attention of bodies concerned and apply them to the training
of +ey DP personnel
'his document represents the recognised and agreed industry standard for the training, competence and experience
re(uired of all +ey DP personnel on dynamically positioned vessels"
Designed as an expansion of the International Aaritime =rgani>ation (IA=) document on the same sub&ect, it is
designed for vessels engaged in operations $here loss of position could cause one or more of the follo$ing6 severe
pollution, loss of life, ma&or damage and economic loss"
'he formal training courses to be attended by DP operators are defined in content, verification and approval" 'he
practical experience re(uired and the certification is also defined" 'raining for #lectrical 'echnical =fficers (#'=s),
#lectronic <adio =perators (#<=s) and engineers is specified" 'he training can be performed either at an approved
institution or onboard a vessel, provided the training is e(uivalent"
In addition, guidance is given on a structured familiarisation procedure for +ey DP personnel &oining a DP vessel or
commencing a ne$ pro&ect"
'he principles and practice for refresher training are provided as are the re(uirements for operators $ishing to
submit experience in lieu of formal training"
In general, formal training is to be assessed and all training is to be approved, so that a common standard can be
achieved internationally"
2"4 % 'he @autical Institute 'raining -cheme for DP =perators
?ithin the provisions of document IA35 A 11! referred to above, DP operator training and certification is
internationally administered by the @autical Institute, in Eondon" 'he @autical Institute is a recognised professional
body $ith an international remit" 'heir main ob&ective is the raising and maintenance of high standards of
professionalism $ithin commercial and other shipping" Part of this ob&ective addresses the business of certification
of DP =perators through a specified and regulated training programme"
'his programme is intended to apply to bridge $atch+eepers already (ualified by means of a certificate of
competency as a dec+ officer" 'he training programme is a five phase one, as follo$s6
1" 3ompletion of a DP Induction 3ourse" 'his is a shore%based course using DP simulation training e(uipment"
Duration four to five days, $ith a course certificate issued on completion;
4" -eagoing familiarisation of a minimum of one month" 'he trainee DP= spends a month understudying a
(ualified DP= in a vessel engaged in DP operations;
0" 3ompletion of a DP -imulator 3ourse" 5dvanced shore%based training using a variety of scenarios built
around the simulator" 5gain, four to five days $ith a course certificate issued on completion;
." 3ompletion of six monthsB supervised DP $atch+eeping in 3lass 4 or 0 DP vessels, or longer on 3lass 1
vessels and at least t$o months on 3lass 4 or 0 vessels;
/" 5ssessment of the abilities of the candidate by the Aaster of the vessel, then documentation for$arded to the
@autical Institute in Eondon for the issue of the DP= certificate"
5 limited DP certificate is available under the @autical Institute scheme $herein the fourth stage includes six
monthsB DP experience on 3lass 1 DP vessels $ith a statement of suitability from the Aaster"
5ll of the five phases above are $itnessed and recorded by entries in a DP Eogboo+, held by the trainee" 5ll entries
to be validated by the Aaster" 'he @autical Institute logboo+, scheme and certificate are internationally accepted"
'he @or$egians have a similar scheme, $ith similar logboo+s and certification" 1oth schemes and certificates have
e(ual standing in the international $orld of shipping"
'he courses detailed above are approved by the @autical Institute" In order to obtain such approval any training
centre must apply to the @autical Institute for validation of its scheme" 'he training centre $ill then be visited by the
@autical InstituteBs DP :alidating 3ommittee, $hich $ill inspect every aspect of the proposed training" <e%
validation of the training centre $ill be re(uired every three years"
'he scheme outlined above is intended for bridge DP $atch+eepers" 'hese consist primarily of officers (ualified in
the traditional dec+ department, i"e" Aates and Aasters"
2"0 % =n%1oard 'raining
'he formal training scheme outlined above includes t$o periods of experience gained on board the vessel"
It is possible to devise and run formal DP induction and simulator courses aboard ship" 'his pattern of training falls
$ithin the @autical Institute recommended scheme, provided that the shipboard training programme has been
properly devised and $ritten, is conducted in a suitable systematic manner, and that the person or persons
conducting the training are sufficiently (ualified and experienced for the tas+" 5ll being $ell, the @autical Institute
$ill approve the scheme, allo$ing the operator to issue certification e(uivalent to a shore%based college relating to
phases 1 and 0 of the @autical Institute scheme"
2". % 'echnical 'raining
5ll the remar+s made so far relate to the bridge $atch+eepers" 5 vital function lies in the hands of the #'= or #<=
(#lectrical 'echnician, or #lectronics and <adio =fficer)" If the DP system malfunctions or fails in any $ay, then the
vessel is liable to immediate do$ntime penalties" 'he carriage on board of a technician s+illed in the techni(ues of
system diagnosis and repair may save the o$ners the considerable costs of do$ntime"
'echnical training is also available from or supported by e(uipment manufacturers"
2"/ % IA35 'raining Fuidelines
5s referred to above, IA35 has produced an in%depth study entitled *'he 'raining and #xperience of 8ey DP
" Published in 1996, this document has been referenced as an industry standard by IA=" It addresses the
training re(uired for not only $atch+eeping DP=s, but also Aasters, 3hief and ?atch+eeping #ngineers, =ffshore
Installation Aanagers (=IAs) and #'=s or #<=s"
'he primary and secondary ob&ectives identified in this guideline include6
'o improve the safety of DP operations by defining minimum standards for
• the formal training of +ey DP personnel
• maintaining continuity of vessel experienced personnel on board a DP vessel
• the familiarisation programme for +ey DP personnel ne$ to a vessel
'he primary ob&ectives should assist in achieving the follo$ing secondary ob&ectives6
• 5n internationally accepted standard for the training
• 'raining resources are spent $here they are most effective
=n board training, familiarisation programmes and simulators are encouraged"
5s may be seen from the above, this guideline reinforces and internationalises the ob&ectives set by the @autical
Institute in 1920" Indeed, the @autical Institute is referenced by IA35 as the validating body responsible for training
and certification of DP=s" 'he IA35 document goes further, ho$ever, in detailing levels of competence and forms
of training for +ey personnel other than the DP=s, i"e" #'=7#<=s, #lectricians and #ngineers"
It is essential that s+ills ac(uired through DP training are maintained" 'his consideration introduces the need for
refresher training" 'he maintenance of these s+ills may be assured by6
• continuous regular performance of DP operations; or
• fre(uent regular training and practice of DP s+ills; or
• formal refresher training"
2"6 % DP Eogboo+s
Personal logboo+s for the maintenance of records of DP $or+ carried out are issued by the @autical Institute and
'he @"I" logboo+s are specifically designed for the use of DP=s and bridge $atch+eeping officers during the
operatorBs training programme" -pace is provided to record details of vessels served upon, tas+s engaged upon and
relevant DP experience" #ntries are signed by the Aaster, and a record of sea%time is +ept" -pace is also provided to
verify attendance at the shore%based courses comprising phases 1 and 0 of the training scheme" 5fter the training
scheme is complete, a testimonial or assessment is provided by the Aaster to verify the suitability of the officer
concerned to carry out DP operations and +eep a bridge DP $atch" It is on the strength of evidence contained $ithin
this logboo+ that individual DP= certificates are issued by the @autical Institute"
IA35 logboo+s (and the earlier DP:=5 logboo+s) are intended to be used by all +ey DP personnel, not only bridge
DP $atch+eeping officers" IA35 logboo+s are intended as a continuous record of DP service and $ould normally
commence after DP training $as complete" 5 page is provided to sho$ details of training courses attended"
. - References
1" IA35 A 10 % Fuidelines for the design and operation of dynamically positioned vessels
4" IA35 A 161 % Fuidelines for the design and operation of dynamically positioned vessels % '$o%:essel
=perations % 5 supplement to IA35 A 10
0" 11/ DP:=5 % <is+ analysis of collision of dynamically positioned support vessels $ith offshore installations
." IA35 A 14/ % -afety interface document for a DP vessel $or+ing near an offshore platform
/" 11 DP:=5 % #xamples of a DP vesselDs annual trials programme
6" 146 DP:=5 % <eliability of electrical systems on DP vessels
!" IA35 A 1/ % Ouantified ris+ analysis of offshore tan+er offta+e operations
2" IA35 A 149 % )ailure modes of 3PP thrusters
9" IA35 A 164 % )ailure modes of variable speed thrusters
1"IA35 A 1.4 % Position reference reliability study
11"IA35 A 1.6 % 'he possibilities of FE=@5-- as a DP position reference
14"IA35 A 1./ % <evie$ of three dual hydro acoustic position reference systems for deep$ater drilling
10"IA35 A 1/1 % 'he basic principles and use of hydroacoustic position reference systems in the offshore
1."IA35 A 1// % DFP- @et$or+ provision and =perational Performance % 5 ?orld%?ide 3omparative -tudy
1/"IA35 A 16 % <eliability of position reference systems for deep$ater drilling
16"IA35 A 166 % Fuidance on )ailure Aodes P #ffects 5nalyses ()A#5s)
1!"IA= A-3 3ircular 6./ % Fuidelines for vessels $ith dynamic positioning systems
12"IA35 A 11! % 'he training and experience of +ey DP personnel
19"IA35 A 1. % -pecification for DP capability plots
4"112 DP:=5 % )ailure modes of 5rtemis A+ I: position referencing system
41"IA35 A 101 % 5 revie$ of the use of the fan beam laser system for dynamic positioning
IA35 A 1! % 5 revie$ of the use marine laser positioning systems
44"IA35 DP incident reports