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Advanced Decision-support System for Ship Design, Operation and Training

The ADOPT project will focus on optimising safety by the development of a system that senses the environment of a real situation, predicts the ship’s motion accordingly and, based on this data, calculates the actual risk of operating the ship in any given situation.

Tags: Water


Modern ship types are developing rapidly. Consequently, the experience gained by a crew on a certain ship does not necessarily apply to another vessel, even to vessels of the same ship type. Situations have been reported where vessels have entered dangerous situations without any warning.

With today’s modern ship types, the captain and his crew can be faced with ‘new’ phenomena like parametric excitation and pure loss of stability. Generally, guidance on how to identify such problems and resonance is not available or appropriate, mainly due to the highly non-linear roll motion and lack of development (i.e. the means to use the theoretical knowledge for practical application). Also phenomena like slamming and excessive vertical accelerations at the bow are not simple to detect on large modern ships.

Recent data proves that commercial losses and loss of life can potentially be reduced by introducing this kind of decision support system. Losses pertinent to the motion of ships in heavy seas recorded from April 2005 until March 2006 are 43 lives and an estimated € 100 million. (Source:


Creating a risk-based system that will assist the captain in deciding safe and efficient ship handling with respect to the motions of an intact ship in severe seas, based on the risks arising from:

  • the identified hazards and their formulation of limit states
  • the actual sensed environmental situation
  • the ship’s condition
  • the ship’s behaviour
  • the expected sea state on all possible courses
  • the prediction of ship motions on all these courses caused by the prevailing conditions, etc.
Heavy seas seen from the bridge
Heavy seas seen from the bridge

Description of work

  • Development of a toolbox for sensing the environment, prediction of ship response, and support for decision-making and selection of appropriate risk control options;
  • Development of interfaces for the interaction of the developed toolbox with existing systems;
  • The integration of the predicted ship response with on-board monitoring devices and enabling these combined systems to predict the ship’s response accurately;
  • Presenting relevant information on predicted sea-keeping behaviour and risk control options to the captain in real-time;
  • Development of interfaces for operational use, use in design and approval, and use in training;
  • Development of a user display, which is actually able to communicate the relevant parameters and their real meaning to the crew, especially in extreme conditions;
  • Interfacing with available systems on the bridge (GPS, radar, ECDIS, etc.);
  • Validation of the usability of the system in (simulated) extreme conditions in a full mission simulator to evaluate and improve usability;
  • Validation of the developed DSS using full-scale measurements.


After its first year, the ADOPT project achieved a clear understanding of the tasks at hand. This was done by performing a hazard identification session on the motions of intact ships without a digital satellite system (DSS), identifying the most critical scenarios being subject to a DSS. Another session was performed on ships having a DSS onboard, identifying the potential hazards resulting from a DSS.

The findings from these sessions were further structured and, together with additional information, put into a stakeholder requirement specification. This document forms a solid basis for future developments.

The work on decision criteria clearly indicates that economic interests of an owner and an operator are expected to put more stringent limitations on ship operations than safety concerns.

All disciplines involved in the development of the ADOPT DSS, which are oceanographics, numerical simulation of the motions of intact ships, description of permanent and varying ship data, and man-machine-interface, reviewed the state of the art and put these in the context of ADOPT. Focus was put on sources of uncertainties in the respective data. This provides ADOPT with a solid basis for its work in the next reporting period, where the respective details will be covered.

The full-scale measurement campaign, which ran over the winter season, provided the consortium with valuable data on ship motions of state-of-the-art Ro-Ro vessel in a relevant environment.

Significant loss and damage to containers
Significant loss and damage to containers