The goal of the Tanker Safety project (2009 – 2014) was to significantly reduce the risk of an oil accident on the Gulf of Finland. To achieve this goal, the Foundation has together with the principal maritime actors created the ENSI® navigation service, which improves the possibilities for advance planning in marine traffic control by providing an easy way to share a route plan digitally between the vessel and the traffic control stations on land. ENSI is owned by Finnish Transport Agency and it is the most advanced eNavigation project in Scandinavia, and the only system already in use. The Foundation concluded the Tanker Safety project in summer 2014, and going forward, Finnish Transport Agency will promote the implementation of ENSI service on the Gulf of Finland and also the entire Baltic Sea. The Foundation will continue to follow up the implementation of the ENSI service in co-operation with the Agency in 2014 – 2015.
The target of the Tanker Safety project (2009 – 2014) was to significantly decrease the likelihood of oil accidents in the Gulf of Finland, and to improve the safety of marine traffic. The Gulf of Finland is a marine area with increasingly busy traffic and increasing volumes of oil transportation: these factors also increase the risk of serious oil accidents. Crossing traffic on the Helsinki –Tallinn route, submerged rocks, and ice conditions in the wintertime comprise additional challenges to seafaring. A major oil accident, causing an oil spill of dozens of tonnes of oil, would have a long-term and irreversibly damaging impact on the organisms and livelihoods of the sea and the seashore.
The Tanker Safety project, initiated in 2009, focuses on the prevention of oil accidents, not on damage control. In cooperation with its project partners, the Tanker Safety project has built up the ENSI® (Enhanced Navigation Support Information) navigation service, which delivers the route plans of vessels to marine traffic control, and facilitates the way vessels receive information in electronic format.
John Nurminen Foundation’s main partner in the project is the Finnish Transport Agency, which has implemented the ENSI navigation service, and will now be responsible for deploying it. In 2013, the Finnish Transport Agency took over the responsibility for ENSI. The Foundation’s role has been to coordinate project and ensure the deployment of the ENSI service in tankers that sail the Gulf of Finland. The Foundation intends to detach itself from the project when a mechanism that will ensure the proliferation of ENSI amongst tankers in the Gulf of Finland has been established.
The ENSI service is scalable both in terms of its content and its coverage area. Its features can be increased and expanded, and the service can be deployed also in other marine areas.
When the detailed route plans of vessels become available to marine traffic control centres, and the planned routes are checked once again, the preconditions of forecasting vessel traffic control are much improved. Thanks to the ENSI service, communications become more efficient, and the risk of misunderstandings between vessels and vessel traffic controllers is reduced.
The route-specific data available to vessels helps them navigate safely. At the same time, tasks on the bridge become easier, as route-specific navigation information is available through one channel, and no time needs to be wasted looking for and filtering data.
The MIMIC research project – a joint project of the University of Helsinki and Aalto University, completed in the spring of 2014 – examined the cost-efficiency of various risk management methods available for the prevention of oil accidents in the Gulf of Finland. Compared methods included improving the impact resistance of vessels, a more comprehensive obligation to use pilotage, and the deployment of the ENSI navigation service. According to research results, the ENSI service turned out to be the most cost-efficient of the abovementioned methods of oil accident risk management, and would lead to an 18–20% reduction in accidents.
ENSI is an automated navigation service that improves the preconditions of forecasting vessel traffic control. The service is connected to marine traffic control systems, transferring data between the vessels and the marine traffic control centres. The first tanker to begin test use of the ENSI system for vessels deployed the system in December 2012, and in early 2013 the tests were expanded to cover all eight Nest Shipping tankers. In April, ENSI was included in the operative systems of vessel traffic control centres.
During the year planning went on for the next ENSI system software update, scheduled for release in the spring of 2014, which will facilitate wider system deployment. Moreover, technical challenges of the system which also impacted the deployment schedule were resolved. Representatives of the Foundation introduced the ENSI service at various occasions, presenting the system to shipping companies and other key stakeholders.
In December 2013, the Foundation and the Finnish Transport Agency signed a continuation agreement that defines the project’s future division of work. At the same time, the decision was made to expand the project to cover not just tankers but also other vessel types. As this will allow vessel traffic controllers access to the route plans of all vessels, the impact of the service will increase. The deployment of the ENSI service continues in 2014 – 2015.
When making plans for further development, the Finnish Transport Authority will take into account the user feedback accrued during 2013 – 2014. In fall 2013, ENSI was presented at IMO’s NAV subcommittee meeting, together with other Nordic eNavigation projects. Currently, ENSI is the most advanced and concrete system created by the eNavigation projects, and it can be utilised by other projects, thus further expanding its use.
The Finnish Transport Agency has had fruitful discussions with the Russian and Estonian authorities on service deployment. The system suppliers of the marine traffic control centres for both countries are also included in the discussion.