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A Bridge Too Far

Article by Frances and Michael Howorth


Safety and security when navigating the oceans is the main priority for all yachts. Michael Howorth looks at the intuitive integrated bridge systems and navigation software on offer from the leaders in the maritime field

I remember only too well, the time from my past when, as the Navigating Officer sailing aboard the P&O liner Oriana on a voyage to Australia, we, the bridge team, adopted the somewhat pompous practice of answering the engine room telephone by saying “Good Morning this is the Nerve Centre”. The practice only stopped when the engineers began telephoning asking to talk with


the chief nerve. Jesting aside, the bridge of any ship or superyacht is almost always; command central. It is from here when at sea, at anchor and even at times when the yacht is alongside, that the principle decisions regarding the yachts course and safety are decided and enacted upon. When it comes to paraphernalia there are often areas on board such as the engine room or control room that are better fitted out with more expensive control equipment. When it comes to décor then almost certainly the master stateroom will knock the bridge into a cocked hat but the fact remains: it is always the bridge that lies at the very centre of superyacht operation.

In a book, co written by Frances Howorth entitled, ‘Bridge Procedures A Guide for Watch Keepers of Large Yachts under Sail and Power’ written specifically for those working on yachts in excess of 24 metres we said of the bridge: “Safe navigation is the most fundamental attribute of good seamanship. An increasingly sophisticated range of navigational aids can today complement the basic skills of navigating officers, which have accumulated over the centuries. Sophistication, however, brings its own dangers and a need for precautionary measures against undue reliance on technology. Experience shows that properly formulated bridge procedures and the development of bridge teamwork are critical to maintaining a safe navigational watch.” As navigation and routing becomes more electronically generated that is becoming more and more important.

Generally speaking, the commercial shipping companies are extremely cost conscious, looking to maximise every possible efficiency to keep costs as low as possible. In terms of electronic navigation, cells are purchased on a route-by-route basis, with very little cross-track buffer. This will keep the costs down, but it does of course have an impact on the amount of detail for things like emergency ports of refuge. Yachts on the other hand, have traditionally been more liberal with their ENC consumption to cover off the unexpected change of itinerary. Rather than purchasing week-by¬week, yachts will look at a much wider area for a longer period to be safe.

As an independent supplier of navigation solutions, OneOcean can trace back company activity back to the days of Nelson. Clearly in those times there was no such thing as electronic navigation and indeed the bridge as we know it today did not even exist but it does give the company a fairly unique view on both the world of commercial shipping and superyachts. While the equipment being used on both types of vessels is very similar, the bridge procedures can greatly differ. Former yacht crewmember, Chris Warde, is now the company’s Head of Superyachts and has been in that position since January 2018. Before that he worked for Sunseeker International as a Superyacht Technical Sales Manager. With that sort of background he is clearly qualified to comment on navigation and compliance solutions.

He says, “With the introduction of our OneOcean Pay As You Sail (PAYS) scheme the superyacht community has quickly embraced the concept making it a commercial success, but on the commercial shipping side growth of this sector has been somewhat slower. With PAYS yacht crew have access to the world (with the exception of 5 areas) and only get charged for the cells they sail through. So a yacht can be sat at anchor of the coast of France and start planning route across the other side of the world. They save time and money by being able to keep entire areas up to date, without having to purchase the individual cells.”

There is a tracking fee and planning fee for PAYS, but the cost the yachts save on the ENC consumption far outweighs this up-front subscription. In shipping however, where their ENC consumption is already kept to a bare minimum, the perceived benefits of having more access to ENC data is not deemed a high enough value for the additional tracking and planning fees. Warde says, “Interestingly we see a more widespread adoption of full paperless navigation in the commercial shipping sector. You would expect with all the perceived money in yachting, that superyachts would be leading the way with technology. It’s true that as individual vessels, the new larger superyachts tend to have the most advanced technology and equipment, pushing the boundaries of integration, but there is also a large fleet of smaller (sub 500gst) yachts and older yachts that don’t have the technical infrastructure to run paperless and therefore continue to run with paper as the primary source of navigation. While paper navigation is quickly becoming something of the past in shipping, there is still a sector of yachting that continues to use paper and this is unlikely to change in the near future.”

Team Italia
Team Italia
Charity & Taylor
Charity & Taylor


Probably the biggest difference between ships and yachts can also be drawn within yachting itself as the difference between privately registered yachts and commercially registered yachts. As a commercial
vessel you are more exposed to Port State inspections and have much tighter regulatory restrictions from flag meaning, in theory, you have no choice but to carry the required material, be completely up to date and have comprehensive passage planning detailed and recorded. Privately registered yachts are recommended to carry the same as a commercial vessel, but are not required to do so.

As private vessels are not subject to the same level of Port State inspections, there are plenty of yachts out there that are doing the bare minimum. Private yachts (especially those under 500gt) are yet another reason why paper charts are holding on in yachting. In theory paper charts are the primary source of navigation and ECS should only be an aid. It is common practice, however, to find all the route planning and navigation reference is actually being done on the ECS using unofficial charts while paper charts stay stored away pristinely in the chart drawer.

“There are of course exceptions to the rule, not all private yachts cut corners,” Says Warde. He adds, “Generally, the professionalism of yachting is improving all the time. We are seeing more and more crew wanting to run their bridge procedures correctly and there is more recognition of the importance of having up to date information and proper passage planning in place.”
“The one commonality between commercial shipping and yachting is probably the biggest factor driving innovation and new solutions and that is time. Neither have it in an abundance. For yachting it has meant that, for many, proper passage planning was seen as a luxury they’re not able to comply to. More often than not, they rely on past experience, having been to many of the places before. As new solutions are developed, we can optimise the time spent creating a route and building a comprehensive plan meaning that even on smaller yachts with fewer crew or busy charter yachts where bridge crew are also extremely busy on deck have the ability to follow the correct procedures.”

In general, OneOcean can see a trend of superyacht crew getting better. As more yachts get built above 3,000gst, more professionals holding ‘unlimited’ certificates are being introduced to the industry and that is having a positive effect. But we are a long way off the day when companies no longer have to explain the difference between an official chart and an unofficial chart or explaining what the AIO layer is for.
“Solutions are constantly improving,” says Warde, “This enables yachts to plan better and have more reliable, up to date information available to them, but until we see tighter regulatory control for privately registered vessels there will still be those out there that sail dangerously close to the wind.”

Massimo Minnella, is the CEO and sales manager at Team Italia a company specialising in the integration and functional optimisation of navigation, telecommunications, security and data transmission equipment based
in Viareggio with offices throughout Italy. Together with his financial partner, Daniele Ceccanti, the company CTO, Massimo founded Team Italia 20 years ago.

With experience of commercial ships before he entered the world of superyachts Massimi is in no doubt that the superyacht bridge can be vastly superior to those found on commercial ships. The company designs, engineers and produces custom bridge solutions. Its I-Bridge solutions have been installed on more than 250 new buildings since 2000 on superyachts ranging from 30 to over 100 metres. Because each I-Bridge is a customised solution each has specific features that respond to the requests of ship owners and captains. A good example of this can be seen on board the recently launched Sanlorenzo motor yacht Attila, where transparent head-up display system has harmoniously been permitted to overlay the company’s exclusive electronic chart table system they call I Chart.

As more yachts get built above 3,000gst, more professionals holding ‘unlimited’ certificates
are being introduced to the industry and that has a positive effect

In the Heads-Up Display mode, navigation data is available on the transparent display, allowing the Captain to easily check all information needed and still keep fully focused on steering the yacht. The transparent display allows him to overlay and display this with navigational data - such as route, waypoint, AIS and ARPA targets.

Barry Murfin is the General Manager at Charity & Taylor (Electronic Services) Ltd who have this year become a member of the Aage Hempel Group one of the largest marine electronic groups in Europe. Seven years into the job and with a history of working as a Marine Electronics Project Engineer, his company provides access to an expanded range of products, services and technical resource, and local engineering support in the Mediterranean. All this ensures bridge equipment can be supplied, installed and maintained in a cost efficient manner to both yachting and commercial ship clients. Murfin concedes however that there is a difference between the two, saying, “Superyachts of over 300gt will invariably share the same bridge equipment as their larger commercial counterparts, this ensures the necessary performance and reliability requirements are met, in keeping with any superyacht aesthetics then become a large factor in the equipment selection process.”

Originally rooted in commercial shipping, German based Boening specialises in the development and manufacture of electronic devices and systems for on board automation. Devices and systems, the majority of which they have developed and manufactured themselves are found on more than 13,000 commercial ships and superyachts. Headquartered in Japan, the Furuno Corporation has a UK division with offices in the south of England and another in Scotland. Bruce Hardy the Sales Director in the UK has designed some of the most advanced ship integrated bridges built in the last few years. Across the pond, and based in Fort Lauderdale, Palladium Technologies has for the last 25 years been creating products that include: SiMON X, a bridge monitoring, control and alarm system, IT Networking, Cyber Security, Intrusion Security, along with complete Electrical designs throughout the yacht.

Communications systems play a vital role in the bridge equipment menu. Senior Vice President of Safety and Security, Yacht and Passenger, at Inmarsat, Peter Broadhurst says, “A commercial ship must comply with SOLAS, so its required equipment is defined by IMO regulations and the flag state. Although a superyacht does not have to comply in this way, most do as they either voluntarily follow the guidelines or register themselves as SOLAS. The regulations define the minimum equipment and most commercial ships will stop at that. A superyacht will add things like cameras, tender tracking monitoring, UHF or PMR radios, etc. Also, a commercial bridge is a place of work, whereas a superyacht bridge is also part of the décor of the vessel with guests and owners visiting it. This means a superyacht bridge may have larger monitors, integrated solutions per monitor, computer-controlled solutions and interfaces - and obviously a more pleasing aesthetic finish which sometimes is more important than the function.”

Applie Marine Automation
Applie Marine Automation
RH Marine
RH Marine


Kongsberg Maritime introduced the world’s first, commercially available ARPA radar back in 1969. Other innovations followed: an autopilot with track-control functionality built into the radar was released in 1975. The company has since been in the forefront of innovation, developing what was called the scan-converter for rotating radar signals and pioneering the use of conventional computer screens rather than the fluorescent PPI in 1990, together with some of the very first available electronic chart systems.

Today Roger Trinterud is the company’s Sales Director, responsible for the cruise, yacht and passenger markets. He has worked with Kongsberg Maritime for 23 years, first as a service engineer on bridge systems, then as a project manager for refit/upgrades on bridge equipment before spending more than 10 years on sales of bridge equipment. He subsequently held the role of Senior Sales Manager, with responsibility for coordinating the yacht market within Kongsberg, for 4 years.

Kongsberg Maritime has over the years focused on all kinds of electronic control for ships and offshore installations since its beginning in the late 1960s. These include automation, power/energy management, safety management and control systems, bridge systems including navigation, joystick/ dynamic positioning and remote control of any propulsion/rudder/thruster setup, as well as integration between these control systems.

More recently, Kongsberg has become heavily involved in digitalisation, condition monitoring, remote diagnostics and service and autonomous vessels. Last year, Kongsberg also acquired the maritime division of Rolls Royce, enhancing their portfolio with propulsors (propellers, thrusters, waterjets), rudders, stabilisers, deck machinery and more, making the company a supplier with possibly the widest offering to any vessel type. Today Kongsberg also manufacture its own GNSS solutions for position, heading and speed measurements, AIS and ring laser gyro systems.

Superyachts of over 300gt will invariably share the same bridge equipment as their larger commercial
counterparts, this ensures the necessary performance and reliability requirements are met

More recently, Kongsberg has become heavily involved in digitalisation, condition monitoring, remote diagnostics and service and autonomous vessels. Last year, Kongsberg also acquired the maritime division of Rolls Royce, enhancing their portfolio with propulsors (propellers, thrusters, waterjets), rudders, stabilisers, deck machinery and more, making the company a supplier with possibly the widest offering to any vessel type. Today Kongsberg also manufacture its own GNSS solutions for position, heading and speed measurements, AIS and ring laser gyro systems.

In Trinterud’s opinion, bridge equipment has not changed much as one might think over the last five years. He says, “There is still a big focus on individual pieces of equipment and their functions, rather than on the performance of a bridge system. I would hope that carriage requirements, focusing on counting pieces, would be replaced by functional and redundancy/ backup requirements in the future.”

“On yachts in particular, we are seeing an increase in interest for dynamic positioning systems, as this can increase safety and or comfort of some operations. Solid state radars have been introduced. I still do not see the added cost being justified by improved performance, but I think that will change over the next years. This will also improve performance and degradation of radar systems, as well as simplifying service. The most important change may be happening now, with more and more equipment brands enabling possibilities for remote diagnostic functions.”

Portfolio Manager of the Integrated Bridge Systems at RH Marine is Marcel Vermeulen whose career began as a deck officer in commercial shipping. Having designed automated ship motion solutions within the RH group he began managing his current department about 4 years ago. In the 1990s when RH Marine was known as Imtech the company has witnessed many changes in ridge design having delivered to the market one of the very first electronic chart systems. They followed this with the delivery of the first complete PC based integrated navigation bridge just as the century clicked over from 19 to 20. Of the changes in recent years Vermeulen believes the new ECDIS standard and the introduction of Bridge Alert Management has had the most impact on the wider acceptance of integrated operator panels. “Besides functionality,” he says, “Aesthetics of the bridge has gained importance, and this has been supported by technological options to automate more and use smaller components.”

Chris Warde at OneOcean says, “A huge amount has changed.” He adds, “Not just in the technology, but in the application. Integrated services have led to a much better situational awareness and quicker access to information has improved navigation preparation and safety management.”

“Developments to bridge equipment in the last five years have been heavily focused on simplifying the user interface and reducing maintenance requirements says Barry Murfin at Charity & Taylor. He concludes, “Thus easing the burden on crew for training and maintenance co¬ordination.”

Simrad, a company with a 60 year history in the business has been developing multifunctional displays (MFDs) for many years. Gianluca Babini heads up the Mega Yacht Engineering Department at Simrad. He started to work for NAVIOP, now part of Simrad, 15 years ago and has worked in a variety of different roles within the company. In that time, he has also witnessed much change. “These displays have evolved in very much the same way as a smartphone has over the same sort of period,” he says. He adds, “Chartplotters, Echo-sounders and radars are all now an application that launch inside the MFD as soon as it is switched on in much the same way as your mobile telephone becomes a camera and a calculator inside your pocket.” Babini continues, “The acquisition of NAVIOP by Simrad in 2017 has enabled us to enhance our offering and most importantly develop fully integrated marine-electronics systems that enhance the yachting experience. With Simrad Command we can now offer unique solutions for navigation control. Multifunctional display solutions that not only offer navigation functions but also monitor and control all of the boat’s key processes and systems. From the design-phase to our close collaboration with engine manufacturers and our technical know-how, makes Simrad Command one of the few platforms that can provide this level of integrated solutions.”


Gazing into the crystal ball trying to predict what is next in the way of major equipment to become available to superyachts can be difficult. But Roger Trinterud at Konesberg is prepared to stick his head out and suggest it might be Situational Awareness Systems. He says, “Today the bridge is a cluttered mess of screens and instruments displaying information in an unstructured way. There is a mix of raw information from sensors and processed data supplied through computer systems that can be complementary but in fact often overlaps with redundant information. This can sometimes be comforting but at other times confusing. Trinterud thinks, “We will soon see information structured as layers on top of each other on the same screen -instead of adjacent - combining video, radar signals, electronic charts with all sensor data. This way it will be easier to detect faults and inconsistencies, and at the same time give the navigator a better understanding at a glance, and more time to look out the windows, in the right direction.”

“The integration of joystick and dynamic positioning systems in the navigation suite are giving us the possibility to develop new, advanced manoeuvring functions, that will also ease operations. Warming to his theme, Trinterud also suggests, “These include all-speed autopilots that work from station keeping to transit speed, automatic docking and automatic collision avoidance systems.”

There has been a large amount of positive feedback on the ease of operation
which Joystick and Dynamic Positioning offers the bridge crew

At RH Marine whose speciality is to deliver tailored integrated solutions system they are designing and building bridge automation and power solutions in-house. Looking into the future Marcel Vermeulen thinks, “We will see more of the larger size monitors. Some will be integrated into the chart table recalling the size and familiarity of the good old paper chart experience, like with our Voyage Planning Station. He believes, “More equipment will become available with network interfaces to support a higher level of integration, again helping to minimise the required volume for bridge equipment and allowing smarter bridge design.”

Team Italia are looking to the future in a partnership with Rolls Royce, to create what will become the MTU SmartBridge. “This project,” says Massimo Minnella “opens up to the integration of the propulsion thus integrating all the systems onto a single platform and obtaining the digitalisation of the entire boat.” He adds, “Everything, except for the throttle control which will always remain physical, will be based on touch screen technology.”

At OneOcean, Chris Warde’s crystal ball suggests, “The availability of electronic record keeping is going to become more important in the future. The IMO are due to recognise electronic record keeping as an official form of record keeping in October 2020 and Marpol logbooks alone, will provide a huge amount of data that can be used to analyse vessel performance, without the need for costly remote monitoring of engineering.”

“My prediction,” says Barry Murfin at Charity & Taylor, “is that augmented reality will become a big contributor to the superyacht sector as an aid to navigation, crew training and remote support.”

Gianluca Babini at Simrad shares the belief that augmented reality will become. He says, “When sailing, it would be good to know at a glance what you are approaching getting data from the AIS and seeing it projected on the windscreen so as to see navigation data, route, speed, size all in one place. Never one to have just one idea, Babini has a second prediction, “But I cannot tell you when it will be in the marketplace.”

He tells us. “I think automatic mooring is a real need, I have to say that it is much more important for non professional crew, but it can be very helpful in many cases where professional crews can use such sophistication. I think that already many companies are investing in this field but they all have a long way to go before they reach the goal of getting to the market at affordable price.”


But if that is the future, what about the present? What piece of bridge equipment do the experts consider to be the most important? “Still the radar and the gyro,” say our man at Konesberg.
Barry Murfin at Charity & Taylor belives that no one single piece of equipment is any more important than the other. He says, “A complete properly installed and integrated bridge can be an asset but only in the hands of a competent watchkeeping officer who can use to these aids.”

More prosaically, “It is probably a part that you cannot actually see,” says Marcel Vermeulen at RH Marine. “To maintain a reliable and flexible navigation network infrastructure on the modern bridge you require a lot of information to be shared between applications and equipment. This needs to be managed well in the background to optimise the availability and the user experience and that’s generally done by processors housed in little black boxes located under the bridge console.”

“Considering that much of navigation equipment on board is there because its carriage is mandatory,” says Massimo Minnella, “I would suggest the most important piece inside our I-Bridge solution is the one that adds the most added value and in our case that would be the console in the touch screen control panel responsible for the total integration of the entire equipment package.”

Adopting the procedure for announcing the results of the Miss World competition, or the Euro song scoring, Gianluca Babini lists his top seven in reverse order. They are: Forward Facing Sounder, Auto Pilot, ECDIS, Echo Sounder, VHF and GPS. Most important he says is the radar. “Professional crew working on superyachts,” he says, “Can turn it on at any time, in rain, fog, snow, sunshine and even unlimited visibility! It’s a way to see behind their shoulders staying in the bridge from where you can have a 180° sight.”

But our favourite response to this question is the answer given by Chris Warde at OneOcean. He says it is: “The operator! Technology is great, but if the person using it is not up to scratch it’s irrelevant.” So very true!

Kongsberg Maritime
Kongsberg Maritime


Bridge equipment suppliers do not, of course, work on the bridge of a superyacht and their opinion of what is, and what is not, important can differ from those whose place of work the bridge really is. We asked our panel of experts: “What piece of equipment they thought captains of superyachts might treasure most?”

Dynamic positioning system topped the list with both Roger Trinterud at Konesberg and Marcel Vermeulen at RH Marine. Trinterud said, “Once the captain gets to know it, I think this is the dynamic positioning system. I know many are ‘afraid’ of it, think it is complicated to use and unnecessary, but I’ve heard so many stories from captains that have taken their time to learn it, telling how it saved a situation. Now we are trying to simplify the operation, by integrating it with the navigation system and having it operated through the chart display, hopefully giving the captains more trust in it. This is a part of what we call advanced manoeuvring.”

Marcel Vermeulen said, “Of course each situation calls for its own favourite tool, but we’ve noticed a large amount of positive feedback on the ease of operation which Joystick and Dynamic Positioning offer. The automated assistance in berthing and other complex manoeuvring situations is highly appreciated.”

Almost inevitably Team Italia’s Massimo Minnella cites his own equipment. And why not? He says, “From our experience the captain treasures most our multicontrol system that allows them to use the majority of the systems on board with the same Human Machine Interface.” He adds, “Our exclusive I-Bridge system makes possible the integration and control of the different systems that are now essential on board, from a single piece of equipment, using the latest touchscreen technologies.”

Chris Warde thinks GPS is top of the captains’ most treasured list. He says, “Whether they’re using an ECS/ECIDS or even paper charts, being able to immediately plot your position saves a lot of time and effort.” Sticking to the same theme of time saving kit, Gianluca Babini at Simrad opts for Radar. He says, ”It is not only very good at monitoring situations automatically but it does so at the same time as reducing the workload for all of those working on the bridge.”


As bridge equipment has become more complex, has the maintenance become more difficult we asked our panel of experts: “Are users now better trained in the use and maintenance of the equipment than in the past?”
Barry Murfin at Charity & Taylor believes, “Maintenance has been lessened with the manufacturers developing more versatile and common hardware platforms, along with ‘maintenance free’ hardware. Training for ETOs and Engineers direct from manufacturers has helped bridge the gap for preventative maintenance tasks.”

“Bridge equipment has become more complex having a lot of functionalities.” So says our man at Simrad Gianluca Babini. He adds, “We are in charge of simplifying the user experience of the bridge, it’s mandatory. The maintenance is not more difficult, usually it works or not! The crew are very different but I would say that younger crew adapt to new systems more easily.”

Chris Warde thinks, “Users are definitely not better trained, equipment and management solutions have become more intuitive and have therefore become easier to maintain.”

Giving us the Kongsberg point of view Roger Trinterud says, “This very much depends on the actual configuratio n. How many brands of equipment, how integrated they are, and whether the owner/captain has given an ETO or other crewmember the possibility to do some training. With a good, trained ETO and remote diagnostic functions, we actually see less need for travelling, but increased phone/web support.”

With the shift to a more automation focus of bridge equipment, information and communications technology (ICT) maintenance aspects obviously grow, and remain a concern as with all new adopted technology. However, the growing expertise of remote access and support is putting these fears at bay. For professionalism and safety these bridge systems are vital.

Space Age

Article by Frances and Michael Howorth


Team Italia

Frances and Michael Howorth look at the many new bridge systems and displays the superyacht owner must consider and investigate, total cost of ownership, support and future proofing, asking are we pushing the boundaries of new product design?

For every technical space on board a superyacht there is an area where form meets function. For the Chef that space is frequently the galley for the stews it can be the laundry room,

for the engineers it is often the control room while the ITO’s get into a sweat just thinking about the racks in the AV room. But for the navigators there is only one space where form meets function with any real degree of practicality and that is the navigation bridge.

Often called the yacht’s control centre by those that man it, many also call it the nerve centre adding with a certain amount of irreverence that it is where the Chief Nerve works. Whatever your job on board it is considered to be by many on board the focal point of the yachts working purpose. The modern day bridge with its controls, multifunctional computer screens clustered around the steering and propulsion devices can impress some, baffle others and elicit scream of despair from others. What has been designed with great care and forethought by one person or even a team of people can, at a stroke immediately win the approval of those who are going to use it or can generate much striking of the head as the potential user stares at it in amazement and asks him or herself what the devil is that doing there.

Steve Monk a former Royal Navy officer served in large yachts for some years before setting up DaGama Marine a firm that specialises in the supply of bridge ancillary requirements and training has over the years seen many bridges. He says, “When it comes to bridge design, the layout of the equipment, what equipment is provided and all other aspects associated within the nerve centre of a superyacht, particularly when underway, it has to be asked why there are so many poorly designed and laid out vessels at sea?”

Citing the example of a yacht wishing to operate on an approved ECDIS (electronic chart display information system) as their primary means of navigation, Monk points out that, “It has to have a minimum of two allocated machines. Building a bridge, which only has space for one means the regulations can’t be achieved so paper charts have to be used. However when no chart table is provided or it isn’t big enough on which to house a standard Admiralty chart, how is the Captain supposed to be legally compliant? ‘Work arounds’ usually mean the regulations aren’t quite followed correctly (read that as you will) and thus poor standards and procedures creep into place.”

But is ECDIS all that its cracked up to be? RH Marine in Holland believe that although ECDIS has brought a lot of ease to the bridge, sometimes it can be a challenge for a navigator to sail without the familiar large paper chart. They say, “It may be the lack of a good overview, or the limited freedom to add notes or other content. Fortunately there are modern technologies available that can assist here. The Rhodium Bridge suite of applications already contains its own developed chart system for a long time, running on each of four navigation Multi-Function-Workstations at the bridge, so fully redundant and according the applicable regulations.” A recent addition from the company is their Voyage Planning Station (VPS), adding just the functionality to fill the gap.

RH Marine’s VPS is an add-on to optimise the planning process. They explain, “You have the accuracy and quality of an approved ECDIS with the size of a paper chart and the freedom to draw just like before on the large paper chart. The VPS gives a detailed digital overview of difficult navigation areas, with the possibility to scale the vector charts from a local ECDIS cell to world scale, by the touch of your fingers. The Bridge’ ECDIS systems are equipped with relatively small displays while in the past the navigator could use large A0 sized paper charts providing the required situational overview. The new Rhodium VPS combines both worlds by delivering a high resolution (4K) large sized multi touch display with ECDIS planning capabilities and more. It’s to be used as a secondary system next to the bridge’s navigational workstations, to be built in the chart table desk or aft panel in the wheelhouse. Added functionalities like emphasising interesting spots, putting text notes on the chart linked to an applicable spot and adding photos make VPS a worthy successor of the paper chart. Because the VPS is integrated it runs with the standard maintenance program of the bridge.”

Admarel - Integrated Bridge Systems
Admarel - Integrated Bridge Systems
RH Marine
RH Marine

Yet newspapers and consumer affairs Web site still proclaim that the possibility of hacking a ECDIS remains a potential threat to superyachts. Ken Munro of Pen Test Partners a company offering Cybernet Penetration Testing Services has suggested that the vulnerability of ECDIS could be exploited to block superyacht ports and wreak havoc throughout the superyacht community. His statement comes after his firm looked into shipping using the English Channel, which is the busiest shipping route in the world.

Munroe found a commonly used ship-tracking technology can be hacked to spoof the size and location of boats in order to trigger other vessels’ collision alarms. He told the BBC that a researcher has discovered that it was relatively easy to find cases via an app to gain remote access to the ECDIS System on ferries crossing the channel.

The attack targets the computer-powered navigation Electronic Chart Display System (ECDIS), so that it is possible to take advantage of this to reconfigure a ship’s ECDIS software in order to mis-identify the location of its GPS (global positioning system) receiver. The receiver’s location can be moved by only about 300m but he said that was enough to force an accident. “That doesn’t sound like much, but in poor visibility it’s the difference between crashing and not crashing,” he said. Munroe believes that because ECDIS feeds the automatic identification system AIS transceiver collision alarms would be firing on numerous ships within a certain location and many would then simply avoid the area completely. He said, “It would make for a very brave captain to continue on course while the alert was sounding.”

Data communication is becoming more and more essential for a modern bridge; not only for servicing the navigation. It also gathers shore side data like weather information or chart updates. The same communication equipment also transmits ship to shore; supplying system information to suppliers or management agencies for preventive maintenance programs. RH Marine in Holland insist, “A secured communication link is essential.” They say, “Working closely with navies and coastguard services worldwide we provide technical solutions that guarantee safe and secure operations at sea with proven track record.”

Steve Monk at DaGama Maritime believes, “Technology moves at an ever increasing pace with ECDIS manufacturers turning out new systems and upgrades all the time but many are built by software engineers who don’t understand what the mariner really wants to see and more importantly, how simple they’d like it to be to operate as few bridge teams read the operators manual. Of course, operating on ECDIS means the official electronic charts being displayed need to be available to a sufficiently acceptable standard for use. Regrettably in many areas where superyacht’s operate, this is not the case, again meaning raster charts are required and to be backed up with paper charts, so the need for a chart table crops up again.”

Typically within the superyacht market, some designers believe smooth and clean is best which means they build a bridge panel / foil that is touch screen sensitive. Monk says, “This looks great but can be completely impractical for day-to-day use as the operator now spends more time looking down to find the right button or switch rather than being able to feel it. Subsequently the OOW now isn’t looking out of the window at the world / dangers around them and has to rely on technology. Perhaps removing the OOW completely (as the commercial market is looking to do) is the way to go but then the boss may not be quite so keen when operating close to shore.”

Massimo Minnella, is the CEO of TEAM Italia. He believes, “A high, modern model of integration requires the opportunity to use increasingly more effective ergonomic solutions. Regards this, a decisive part is most certainly the implementation of systems linked to the world of mechatronics. New clients are captains, owners and shipyards and they are all highly attentive to the safety features linked to manoeuvring a yacht.”


In the world of superyachts it is all about aesthetics and it is obvious that design is very important. A bridge lay-out is always subject to customisation by the Owner’s team. However most important is to ensure safe and efficient sailing. RH Marine share the opinion that ‘less is more’ by keeping mimics simple and clear with the right information at the right spot. By being involved at the design phase of the bridge console the company ensure that the operational goals meet the customers demand for safety and comfort and obviously the requirements of rules and regulations.

As integrated bridge systems (IBS) for superyachts advance substantially in both usability and aesthetics, marine electronics specialists Admarel B.V., an Alewijnse Marine company. realised that superyacht owners they work with typically expect something that both looks good as well as ensures a safe and compliant cruising experience. Malou Bense the company’s marketing communications manager believes, “The sheer diversity of navigation, communications and control systems often means that even the latest bridges end up with a range of independent stations, each catering to a different system and each with its own operating manual and training requirements.

“With that in mind, she says, “The ultimate objective for Admarel and its fellow companies involved in superyacht electronics supply and integration has been to achieve what is already being delivered by the automotive and aerospace sectors – a clean, unified look for ‘control centres’ where multiple systems deliver their data and control using via a harmonised interface.”

Admarel believe that their goal has been achieved with the arrival of the Synapsis NX integrated navigation system (INS) from Raytheon Anschütz. Despite the name, the Synapsis NX is about much more than just navigation. It goes beyond what most captains would regard as an IBS adding a fully flexible IT network that will receive and distribute data and commands from anywhere and to anywhere it is needed not necessarily limited to just navigation.

I-Bridge Air Wings is a new system from Onyx Marine Automation part of the TEAM Italia Group. It provides for integration of the 3D. Federico Sturlese, the firms CTO, says, “The 3D monitoring we developed tracks out a new route on the panorama of supervision systems, guaranteeing unprecedented levels of usability. The innovative three-dimensional graphics are perfectly integrated into the I-Bridge® system and enhance its versatility, efficiency and design,” affirms Captain David Clarke was for many years the Master and Commander of the 73 metre Delta Marine built Laurel. That was before he and his wife, the yachts purser, stepped ashore to set up Superyacht Operating Systems a powerful standard operating procedure system featuring tools superyacht crew need to complete seamless digital tasks, checklists, work lists, procedures and calendars not just for the bridge but the entire superyacht.

Bridge Management might look very different on a 30 metre as compared to a 130 metre but when you break it down the basics are all the same. Good Bridge Management is a combination of the right team, the right equipment and the right tools, and without all of them working in harmony, Bridge Management can easily turn into Bridge Mayhem.

The right team consists of the following, The Decision Maker, The Helmsman, The Plotter, The Radio Officer and The Lookout. Often one person will carry out multiple roles during a Bridge watch and when the conditions are presented it might be required that five or more persons carry out just one role each. Nether the less all these roles make up the Bridge team and weather it’s a team of one or a team of five working in harmony, the right team in the bridge is what makes up the first component of good Bridge Management on board any vessel.


Omega Architects who work with Dutch shipyards the likes of Heesen have worked on a bridge layout concept for an 80 metre yacht that shows the latest thinking on the efficient use of space and which integrates the main functions; navigating, planning and lounging within a spacious, futuristic environment with sleek floating elements.

They have done so working with Dutch marine electronics specialists Admarel and Bricks & Goggles, a leading VR agency specialising in visualising construction and fit-out projects prior to a yacht build starting. The three partners together understand the two very different approaches – design and technology – that need to be reconciled and the benefits that would be gained as a result. The key objective was to make the look and feel of the working environment and the accompanying ergonomics the start¬ing point for the design of the bridge, and then taking advantage of the new flexibility of the technology to create bridge concepts that are both design statements in their own right and highly efficient command and control centres.

Traditionally, bridge design has been determined by regulatory requirements first and the technology second, with aesthetics coming a distant third. The development of integrated bridge systems was expected to revolutionise the way bridges looked and operated, but up until now that process has been slow. The additional space offered the opportunity to create an attractive, well positioned place to manage and organise everyday life and business organisation on board of the yacht.