The monolithic Ovation of the Seas megaliner has trialled Australasia’s Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) to dock precisely in Sydney Harbour.
Over 500,000 people have boarded cruise ships from Sydney Harbour in 2016 and 2017, and the Ovation of the Seas is one of the largest to arrive in port — her length overhanging the berth box at Circular Quay, and her bridge and funnels too tall to pass underneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
In a collaboration between the Sydney Harbour Port Authority and Acoustic Imaging, Geoscience Australia’s SBAS positioning trial was used to dock the 348-metre Quantum class cruise ship at Circular Quay on her most recent berthing.
The SBAS trial, funded with $12 million from the Australian Government and a further $2 million from the New Zealand Government, has made Australia first country in the world to test second generation SBAS and integrated Precise Point Positioning corrections into an SBAS service.
“Standalone GPS positioning is giving you five to 10 metre level positioning. This is the first time we have been able to broadcast corrections at the 10 centimetre level to the entire country, in fact to the entire region, so it’s quite new,” said SBAS project manager, Dr. John Dawson of Geoscience Australia.
Lead scientist of Acoustic Imaging’s maritime programs, Nicole Bergersen, said that the successful trial could prove a major boon to the Port Authority, with the potential to dramatically reduce reliance on human supervision and improve the efficiency of traffic management within the busy harbour.
“What SBAS is allowing us to do is have the pilot rely just on the information on the computer screen and if we can enable instrument navigation, then the pilot no longer needs visibility to be able to steer a ship,” she said.
“That’s going to allow the Port Authority of New South Wales to bring in more ships, more frequently and in adverse conditions.”
The Acoustic Imaging and Port Authority of New South Wales project is one of more than 30 industry sector projects involved in the Australasian SBAS trial.