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Successful demonstration in Latin America of the Maritime Broadband Radio (MBR) and its applications for multibeam survey applications

Barranquilla, Colombia
Satellite image from Google Earth showing the main locations for the KONGBSERG demonstrations in Barranquilla, Colombia.

Author

B.Sc. FIG-IHO CAT-B José Alexis Primelles Cardenas
Sales Support / Hydrographic Support Specialist, Underwater Mapping, Kongsberg Maritime

During the year Kongsberg Maritime participated in many demonstrations, workshops and training courses in Latin America (Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Argentina, Brazil etc.) showcasing the latest generation of shallow water multibeam echosounders with the relevant positioning and motion sensors as well as sophisticated new communications products.

One of the most outstanding exercises of all was a demonstration project that involved the integration of the Maritime Broadband Radio (MBR) with the EM 2040C multibeam echosounder and Seapath 330 motion/positioning systems installed on board a survey launch. This demonstration was part of KONGSBERG's efforts to introduce new technologies and applications during the CINTECMAR congress which was held at the end of 2016 in Barranquilla, Colombia. This important demonstration was organized by Kongsberg Underwater Technology Inc. in Lynnwood, WA, USA and Global International Trading Inc. which is KONGSBERG's partner in Colombia.

We had access to the Traffic Control Tower at the Maritime Traffic Authority in Barranquilla due to KONGSBERG's strong ties with the Colombia Navy and the local hydrographic office.

Below is a satellite image showing the wide survey area and the locations for the equipment used during this demonstration. The Convention Center is where the CINTECMAR congress was being held.

Equipment and logistics needed for the demonstration

MBR 179 antenna
MBR 179 antenna (Vessel Unit) installed on board survey launch "Isla Salamanca" owned by NAVELENA in Barranquilla, Colombia. This survey launch already has an EM 2040C multibeam echosounder and Seapath 330 positioning / motion systems.
MBR 189 antenna
MBR 189 antenna (Land Station / Unit) installed on the roof of the Maritime Traffic Control Tower in the port area of Barranquilla, Colombia.
Network connection
Network connection to the Convention Center in Barranquilla where customers were able to see the survey operations on board survey launch Isla Salamanca where the SIS software (Seafloor Information System) was also displayed collecting multibeam datasets in the Magdalena River.
  • Distance from the farthest survey area to the traffic control tower: 9000 meters (approx.)
  • Distance from the traffic control tower to the convention center: 3000 meters (approx.)

But what is the MBR product and what are its benefits for multibeam/singlebeam survey operations?

The Maritime Broadband Radio (MBR) is developed for use in maritime applications where digital high-speed reliable communication and data transfer are crucial for efficient and safe operations. The MBR system enables high speed, high capacity and extremely robust data, voice and video transfer between multiple vessels and other assets.

To KONGSBERG, a communication solution must be reliable with a minimum loss of data packets; designed to work well in a maritime environment, be able to communicate simultaneously over short and long distances, work even when signal path is obstructed and be easy to operate, maintain and install. The MBR meets all these requirements and provide efficient performance over long distances and difficult weather conditions as well.

The MBR is more than just a communication antenna, it is a smart antenna solution. Unlike satellite, Wi-Fi or mobile network platforms, MBR requires no extra infrastructure or equipment beyond the units on the relevant locations (vessel, office etc.) This makes it a simple to use and maintain solution enhancing efficiency in maritime operations.

Operating as a maritime "information highway", the MBR connects survey crews and their vessels with a high-speed and high capacity digital communication channel with "fast track" priority options. The system can securely carry a diverse array of operational information, from real-time video to system data, and remotely situated teams can work together seamlessly, coordinating systems and activities for optimal performance, safety and operational success. The above are key functionalities that are certainly shaping the way that multibeam and singlebeam operations are currently conducted at sea.

The typical applications of the MBR include: support for hydrographic surveys, marine surveillance, managing marine operations, remote control, remote vessel inspection, remote sensing,fish farming monitoring, seismic operations, offshore loading etc.

Workflow
Basic data communications and workflow for demonstrations in Barranquilla, Colombia.

Once all the systems were properly installed and tested the live demonstrations were started with actual multibeam survey operations up to the mouth of the Rio Magdalena River (about 11 kilometres away from the Convention Center). Our survey demonstrations were always full of people and at times we were unable to keep up with interest from the congress attendees. There werelive interactions with the crew on board the survey launch and the KONSGBERG staff at the CINTECMAR congress venue. We were able to give instructions to the crew on board about certain survey operations and receive multibeam datasets from them as soon as the survey lines were collected.

Survey boat
Live demonstration
Live multibeam survey demonstrations on board Isla Salamanca Survey Launch in Barranquilla, Colombia.

"This challenging project is a demonstration of the wide range of products that KONGBSERG can provide as a manufacturer to tackle all sort of marine surveys' needs. It is imperative to mention the high service quality of our professionals who were able to install the equipment and have it all ready for the CINTECMAR congress in two demanding working days; amazing work and outstanding results that were well received by existing and potential customers at the Convention Center in Barranquilla, Colombia”, said Chris Hancock, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Kongsberg Underwater Technology Inc.

Conclusions

This ambitious project explored the ways that MBR can help customers rethink how they can conduct marine survey operations and understand all its fascinating applications; from remote assistance and live technical support (trouble-shooting, equipment inspection etc.) to immediate datasets sharing with onshore parties the MBR can be easily conceived as a revolution in maritime communications for survey applications. Among other things this technology guarantees that multibeam datasets have been properly collected the first time and allows us to tackle any technical issues in time so that there will be no need to return to the survey area.

This demonstration was a tremendous team effort that involved staff from different KONGBSERG offices in USA, Canada, Mexico and Norway . A great example of what KONGBSERG's is all about in terms of cooperation and unique professional qualities that allow us to provide innovative solutions and high quality customer service. We are always wherever our customers need us.

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