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Dynamic positioning
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dynamic positioning (DP) is a system to automatically maintain a
ship’s position and heading by using her own propellers and Offshore Support Vessel Toisa Perseus with, in the
background, the fifth-generation deepwater
thrusters. This allows operations at sea where mooring or anchoring
drillship Discoverer Enterprise, at the Thunder
is not feasible due to deep water, congestion on the sea bottom
Horse location. Both are equipped with DP systems.
(pipelines, templates) or other problems.
Offshore Support Vessel Toisa Perseus with, in the
background, the fifth-generation deepwater drillship
Dynamic positioning may either be absolute in that the position is
Discoverer Enterprise, at the Thunder Horse location.
locked to a fixed point over the bottom, or relative to a moving object Both are equipped with DP systems.
like another ship or an underwater vehicle. One may also position the
ship at a favourable angle towards wind, waves and current, called

Dynamic positioning is much used in the offshore oil industry, for example in the North Sea, Persian Gulf, Gulf of Mexico,
West Africa and off Brazil. Nowadays there are more than 1000 DP ships.


Dynamic positioning started in the 1960’s for offshore drilling. With drilling moving into ever deeper waters, Jack-up barges
could not be used any more and anchoring became less economical.

In 1961 the drillship Cuss 1 was fitted with four steerable propellers, in an attempt to
Cuss 1
drill the first Moho well. It was possible to keep the ship in position above the well off La
Jolla, California, at a depth of 948 meter. Cuss 1

After this, off the coast of Guadalupe, Mexico, five holes were drilled, the deepest at 183
m (601 ft) below the sea floor in 3,500 m (11,700 ft) of water, while maintaining a position within a radius of 180 meter.
The ship's position was determined by radar ranging to buoys and sonar ranging from subsea beacons.

Whereas the Cuss 1 was kept in position manually, later in the same year Shell launched the drilling ship Eureka that had
an analogue control system interfaced with a taut wire, making it the first true DP ship.

While the first DP ships had analogue controllers and lacked redundancy, since then vast improvements have been made.
Besides that, DP nowadays is not only used in the oil industry any more, but on various other types of ships. In addition,
DP is not limited to maintaining a fixed position any more. One of the possibilities is sailing an exact track, useful for
cablelay, pipelay, survey and other tasks.

Comparison between position-keeping options
Other methods of position-keeping are the use of an anchor spread and the use of a jack-up barge. All have their own
advantages and disadvantages.

Comparison position-keeping options
Jack-up Barge Anchoring Dynamic Positioning
Advantages: Advantages: Advantages:

No complex systems with No complex systems with Manoeuvring is excellent; it is
thrusters, extra generators and thrusters, extra generators and easy to change position.
controllers. controllers. No anchor handling tugs are
No chance of running off position No chance of running off position required.
by system failures or blackouts. by system failures or blackouts. Not dependent on waterdepth.
No underwater hazards from No underwater hazards from Quick set-up.
thrusters. thrusters. Not limited by obstructed seabed.

1 of 7 26/11/07 22:13

Limited to water depths of ~150 Anchor handling tugs are High initial costs of installation. meters. Three of these involve translation: surge (forward/astern) sway (starboard/port) heave (up/down) and the other three rotation: roll (rotation about surge axis) pitch (rotation about sway axis) yaw (rotation about heave axis) Dynamic positioning is concerned primarily with control of the ship in the horizontal plane. Less suitable in deep water. Limited by obstructed seabed Higher maintenance of the (pipelines.e. Although all methods have their own advantages. The costs are falling due to newer and cheaper technologies and the advantages are becoming more compelling as offshore work enters ever deeper water and the environment (coral) is given more Disadvantages: Disadvantages: Disadvantages: No manoeuvrability once Limited manoeuvrability once Complex systems with thrusters. thrusters for divers and ROVs. extra generators and controllers. it can move in any of six axes.Dynamic positioning . i. the three axis surge. positioned. With container operations. sway and yaw. anchored.wikipedia. Chance of running off position by Time to anchor out varies system failures or blackouts. crowded ports can be made more efficient by quicker and more accurate berthing techniques. seabed).Wikipedia. the free encyclopedia http://en. required. Requirements for dynamic positioning 2 of 7 26/11/07 22:13 . i. Applications Important applications include: SBX underway Servicing Aids to Navigation (ATON) SBX underway Cable-laying Crane vessels Cruise ships Diving support vessels Dredging Drillships FPSOs Flotels Landing Platform Docks Maritime research Mine sweepers Pipe-laying Platform supply vessels Rockdumping Sea Launch Sea-based X-band Radar Shuttle tankers Survey ships Scope of dynamic positioning A ship can be considered to have six degrees of freedom in its motion. mechanical systems.e. High fuel costs. Cruise ship operations benefit from faster berthing and non-anchored "moorings" off beaches or inaccessible ports. between several hours to several Underwater hazards from days. dynamic positioning has made many operations possible that were not feasible before.

only the ranges to the transponders need to be measured to determine a relative position. HPR. Main manufacturers are Kongsberg Maritime. Differential GPS. For deeper water the system is less favourable. image of the station. the use is limited in shallow waters because of ray bending that occurs when sound travels through water horizontally. Three types of HPR systems are commonly used: Ultra. By measuring the amount of wire paid out and the angle of the wire by a gimbal head. the position reference systems and thrust elements must be carefully considered when designing a DP ship. Short Baseline. For use in DP an even higher accuracy and reliability is needed. first of all the position and heading need to be known. There are however systems that counteract this with a gimbal head on the clumpweight. blockage of satellites by cranes or structures and deterioration of the signal at high altitudes. the relative position can be calculated. Because there are many elements on the transducer. Marine Technologies and Navis Engineering OY. Furthermore. Once that is done. Converteam (formerly a part of Alstom). Horizontal LTW’s are also used when operating close to a structure. Because the angle to the transponder is measured. As the velocity of sound through water is known (preferably a soundprofile is taken regularly). This works with an array of transducers in the ship's hull. SBL. image for use by DP. Sonardyne and Nautronix. Fanbeam/ CyScan. Companies as Fugro supply differential signals via satellite. Reference systems Position reference systems There are several means to determine a ship's position at sea.[1] Hydroacoustic Position Reference. it needs to be corrected for roll and pitch.[2] Riser Angle Monitoring. Because of the nature of angle measurement. with a radius equal to the time between transmission and reception multiplied by the speed of sound through water. This system consists of one or more transponders placed on the seabed and a transducer placed in the ship's hull. Long Base Line. On drillships. The most common Position reference systems (PRS) are: DGPS. a control computer to calculate the required control actions to maintain position and correct for position errors. These determine their position to a transponder. LTW. Ltda. The position should theoretically be located at the intersection of imaginary spheres. The oldest position reference system used for DP is still very accurate in relative shallow water. The position obtained by GPS is not accurate enough GPS satellite in orbit.Wikipedia. the thrust capability of the ship in three axes must be adequate. USBL or SSBL. L-3 Communications (formerly Nautronix). For most applications. Rolls-Royce Marine. Disadvantages are the vulnerability to noise by thrusters or other acoustic systems. the direction of the signal from the transponder can be determined. Now the position of the ship relative to the transponder can be calculated. Both are laser based position reference systems. where a riser angle monitoring transponder is fitted to the riser and a remote inclinometer unit is installed on the Blow Out Preventer (BOP) and interrogated through the ship’s HPR.Short Base Line. the accuracy in large water depths is better than USBL. The availability depends on the type of work and water depth. enabling the combination of several differential stations. Most traditional methods used for ships navigation are not accurate enough. for good control of position in adverse weather. Light Taut Wire. For that reason. These are determined by Motion Reference Units.wikipedia. As the array is located on the ship. the distance is known. as only a 3 of 7 26/11/07 22:13 . a correction needs to be made for the ship's roll and pitch. The advantage of DGPS is that it is almost always available. The correction is send to the DGPS receiver by long wave radio courtesy NASA frequency. The initial position of the transponders is determined by USBL and/ or by measuring the baselines between the transponders. It may be an electrical inclinometer or based on USBL. as current will curve the wire. This works as described above. Because angle measurement is not necessary. Care should be taken not to let the wire angle become too large to avoid dragging. Objects falling on the wire are a risk here. the free encyclopedia http://en.. The main manufacturers of DP systems are Kongsberg Maritime. The position is improved by use of a fixed ground based reference courtesy NASA station (differential station) that compares the GPS position to the known position GPS satellite in orbit. In particular. one around each transponder. A clumpweight is lower to the seabed. which is triggered to reply.or Super. LBL. Symmetry. the accuracy deteriorates with increasing water depth. riser angle monitoring can be fed into the DP system.Dynamic positioning . A very straightforward A ship that is to be used for DP requires: to maintain position and heading. so a solution is found in the same way as with LBL. Disadvantages are degrading of the signal because of sunspots or atmospheric disturbances. The transducer sends an acoustic signal (by means of piezoelectric elements) to the transponder. thrust elements to apply forces to the ship as demanded by the control system. This consists of an array of at least three transponders. several systems have been developed during the past decades.

a combination of GPS and inertial sensors. Power and propulsion systems To maintain position azimuth thrusters. Absolute and Relative Positioning System. RadaScan. Inertial navigation is used in combination with GPS (Seapath) and Hydroacoustics (HAIN). A radar based system. The ship's position and heading are fed into the system and compared with the prediction made by the model. Other sensors depend on the kind of ship. Disadvantage is the short range of 100-200 meters and a limited 90 degree coverage. typical for DP operations. This method even allows not having input from any PRS for some time. DP ships are usually at least partially diesel-electric. large crane vessels will have sensors to determine the cranes position. a USBL can have a much lower precision. Disadvantage is that the unit is rather heavy. The range is several kilometres.Dynamic positioning . the signal does not need to be corrected. since a change of draught influences the effect of wind and current on the hull. Differential. Heading reference systems Gyrocompasses are normally used to determine heading. determine the ship's roll. A radar based system. but no moving parts as Artemis. For this reason. The position from the FPSO is transmitted to the shuttle tanker. RADius. The set-up depends on the DP class of the ship. stern thrusters. The manufacturer is Kongsberg Seatex a subsidiary of Kongsberg Maritime. this model is not entirely correct. For this reason. [3] Artemis. CyScan has the added advantage of an Auto-Tilt mechanism which compensates for waves motion by the use of actuators and gyro's. A Class 1 can be relatively simple. Of course. More advanced methods are: Ring-Laser gyroscopes Fibre optic gyroscopes small prism needs to be installed on a nearby structure. water jets. This difference is used to update the model by using Kalman filtering technique. but is typically more than 500 meters.wikipedia. Control systems In the beginning PID controllers were used and today are still Block diagram of control system used in the simpler DP systems. Based on variance a PRS receives a weight between 0 and 1. whereas the system of a Class 3 ship is quite complex.[4] DARPS. But modern controllers use a mathematical model of the ship that is based on a Block diagram of control system hydrodynamic and aerodynamic description concerning some of the ship's characteristics such as mass and drag. other variables are fed into the DP system through sensors: Motion Reference Units. Range depends on the weather. 4 of 7 26/11/07 22:13 . While a DGPS has a high accuracy and precision. as this allows a more flexible set-up and is better able to handle the large changes in power demand. Both will have a GPS receiver. A unit is placed on a nearby structure and aimed at the unit on board the ship. Reference systems Besides position and heading. On Class 2 and 3 ships. A radar based system similar to RADius. As the errors are the same for the both of them. pitch and heave. Risks are the fanbeam locking on other reflecting objects and blocking of the signal. Draught sensors. Commonly used on shuttle tankers while loading from a FPSO. The accuracy and precision of the different PRS’s is not the same.Wikipedia. Wind sensors are fed into the DP system feed-forward. MRUs. enabling the calculation of a more accurate model (see Control systems). the free encyclopedia http://en. the PRS’s are weighed. as this changes the wind model. the model also has input from the windsensors and feedback from the thrusters. so a range and bearing can be calculated and fed into the DP system. Another advantage is that the transponders are much smaller than the Artemis unit. all computers and reference systems should be powered through a UPS. so the system can anticipate wind gusts before the ship is blown off position. rudders and propellors are used. depending on the quality of the model and the weather. Advantage is the target tracking distance up to 1000 meter and 360 degree coverage. A pipelay ship may measure the force needed to pull on the pipe. bow thrusters.

amongst others: 5 of 7 26/11/07 22:13 . the Norwegian Maritime Directorate (NMD) has specified what Class should be used in regard to the risk of an operation. (Two independent computer systems). Class 2 and Class 3. Loss of position may occur in the event of a single fault. Class 3 Operations where loss of position keeping capability may cause fatal accidents. NMD Where IMO leaves the decision of which Class applies to what kind of operation to the operator of the DP ship and its client.wikipedia. pollution or damage with great economic consequences.Wikipedia. during and following any single fault including loss of a compartment due to fire or flood. Equipment Class 2 has redundancy so that no single fault in an active system will cause the system to fail. Automatic and manual position and heading control under Class 3 DP(AAA) DNV-AUTRO DP 3 DPS-3 specified maximum environmental Class Requirements Based on IMO (International Maritime Organization) publication 645[5] the Classification Societies have issued rules for Dynamic Positioned Ships described as Class 1. 28. Based on this the type of ship is specified for each operation: Class 1 DP units with equipment class 1 should be used during operations where loss of position is not considered to endanger human lives. In the NMD Guidelines and Notes No. cause significant damage or cause more than minimal pollution. Equipment Class 1 has no redundancy. DPS-0 under specified maximum environmental conditions Automatic and manual position and heading control under Class 1 DP(AM) DNV-AUT DP 1 DPS-1 specified maximum environmental conditions DNV-AUTS Automatic and manual position and heading control under Class 2 DP(AA) DNV-AUTR DP 2 DPS-2 specified maximum environmental conditions. pipes. But may occur after failure of a static component such as cables. pollution. Redundancy Redundancy is the ability to cope with a single failure without loss of position. (At least two independent computer systems with a separate backup system separated by A60 class division). thruster. Loss of position should not occur from a single fault of an active component or system such as generators. or cause damage. during and following any single fault excluding loss of a compartment. Class 2 DP units with equipment class 2 should be used during operations where loss of position could cause personnel injury. A single failure can be. enclosure A four classes are defined: Class 0 Operations where loss of position keeping capability is not considered to endanger human lives. severe pollution or damage with major economic consequences. remote controlled valves etc. Class 2 Operations where loss of position keeping capability may cause personnel injury. or severe pollution or damage with major economic consequences.Dynamic positioning . the free encyclopedia http://en. Class 3 DP units with equipment class 3 should be used during operations where loss of position could cause fatal accidents. Equipment Class 3 which also has to withstand fire or flood in any one compartment without the system failing. switchboards. or damage with large economic consequences. DP(CM) DNV-T . Loss of position should not occur from any single failure including a completely burnt fire sub division or flooded watertight compartment. Classification Societies have their own Class notations: Description IMO LR DnV GL ABS Equipment Equipment Equipment Equipment Equipment Class Class Class Class Class Manual position control and automatic heading control . manual valves etc. Class 1 Operations where loss of position keeping capability may cause damage or pollution of small consequence.

. Subsea 7 and Technip have representation on IMCA's Council and provide the president.738 (Guidelines for dynamic positioning system (DP) operator training) on 24-06-1996. there is a risk of damage or injuries. a statement of suitability by the master of a DP ship When the watchkeeping is done on a Class 1 DP ship. the operation should be abandoned as quickly as possible.wikipedia. This allows the principle of voting logic. IMO issued MSC/Circ. generator or a PRS. DP Operator The DP operator judges whether there is enough redundancy available at any given moment of the operation. a minimum of 6 months watchkeeping on a DP ship 5.Heerema Marine Contractors 2005 . and this cannot be resolved immediately. resulting in less economy and fouling of the engines. It also works with IMO and other regulatory bodies. To qualify as a DP operator the following path should be followed: 1. and DPVOA (the Dynamic Positioning Vessel Owners Association). the free encyclopedia http://en. three MRU’s and three wind sensors on Class 3 ships. Coflexip Stena Offshore 1997-8 . a DP Induction course 2. For Class 2 and Class 3 a Consequence Analyses should be incorporated in the system to assist the DPO in this process. a limited certificate will be issued. the operation is done in Class 2 or Thruster failure Generator failure Powerbus failure (when generators are combined on one powerbus) Control computer failure Position reference system failure Reference system failure For certain operations redundancy is not required. IMCA The International Marine Contractors Association was formed in April 1995 from the amalgamation of AODC (originally the International Association of Offshore Diving Contractors). founded in 1990[8]. For instance. since then it has produced publications on different subjects to improve DP standards. Heerema Marine Contractors. a minimum of 30 days seagoing DP familiarisation 3. Saipem. This refers to IMCA (International Marine Contractors Association) M 117[7] as acceptable standard. Depending on the risk.Hein Mulder.e.Dynamic positioning . Helix Energy Solutions Group.John Smith. otherwise a full certificate will be issued. It represents offshore. enough generators and thrusters should be on-line so the failure of one does not result in a loss of position.Knut Boe. marine and underwater engineering contractors.Steve Preston. so the failing PRS can be found. if a survey ship loses its DP capability. Allseas. such as diving and heavy lifting. three gyrocompasses. For other operations. To have enough redundancy. Coflexip Stena Offshore 2001-2 . there is normally no risk of damage or injuries. failing of a thruster. Heerema Marine Contractors 1999/2000 .Donald Carmichael. This is to the judgement of the DP operator. founded in 1972.Wikipedia. Disadvantage is that a generator can never operate at full load. a DP Advanced course 4. This means at least three Position reference systems should be selected. annual trials are done and normally DP function tests are completed prior to each project. For this reason. Technip) While it started with the collection and analysis of DP Incidents[9]. Besides that. Previous presidents are: 1995-6 . Halliburton Subsea/Subsea 7 2003-4 .Frits Janmaat.Derek Leach. The redundancy of a DP ship should be judged by a FMEA study and proved by FMEA trials[6]. References 6 of 7 26/11/07 22:13 . i. there are also three DP control computers. These operations will normally be done in Class 1. Allseas Group (2005 Vice-President . Acergy. If a single fault occurs that jeopardizes the redundancy.

com/divisions/marine/publications/117.Intelligent Dynamic Positioning ( a U. registered 501(c)(3) tax-deductible nonprofit charity.imca-int.Wikipedia. 7. A Review of the Artemis Mk V Positioning System (http://www.htm) Retrieved from " .html) . ^ IMCA M 117. The training and experience of key DP personnel (http://www. 7 of 7 26/11/07 22:13 .imca-int. Ltd. ^ IMCA M 141. Inc. Norwegian Maritime Directorate ( ^ IMCA M 151. Guidelines on Failure Modes & Effects Analyses (FMEAs) ( (See Copyrights for details. ^ IMCA M 174. Guidelines on the Use of DGPS as a Position Reference in DP Control Systems ( Symmetry. External links IMO.asp/data_id%3D10015/MSCcirc645. Analysis of Station Keeping Incident Data 1994-2003 (http://www.Dynamic positioning .org/includes/ IMCA.html) NMD.S.) Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation.imo.imca-int. ^ IMCA M" Category: Navigation This page was last modified 14:35.asp) OPL Oilfield Seamanship Series . IDP . ^ IMCA M 170.oilpubs. 5. 8.imca-int.html) .html) .Volume 9: Dynamic Positioning . ^ IMCA M 181. International Maritime Organization (http://www.html) .imca-int. International Marine Contractors Association (http://www. 9.asp?orderdetail=69) by David Bray Kongsberg Maritime (http://www. The Basic Principles and Use of Hydroacoustic Position Reference Systems in the Offshore Environment (http://www. ^ IMO MSC/Circ.2nd Edition (http://www.wikipedia.html) .com/divisions/marine/publications/166. 6. A Review of Marine Laser Positioning Systems ( . 2. ^ IMCA DP History (http://www.html) .symmetry-rio. 4.kongsberg. the free encyclopedia IMCA DP Intro (http://www. Guidelines for vessels with dynamic positioning systems (http://www.imo..imca-int.imca-int. 23 November 2007. 3. All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation 1.pdf) .

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