Communication technology and computer applications – latest modern technology and its use on board ships


We studied about some of the common uses of computers in modern day ships including PMS system and data logging purposes in our previous article. In this article we will continue with our discussion and learn a few more important aspects where computers play an important role in modern day ships.

Computer Applications

Communication is vital in any business or industry and this is especially true of situations involving ships where the vessel might be in the middle of the ocean surrounded by nothing but only the ocean for hundreds of miles on all sides. You might find it difficult to imagine the old days when there were no radio signals and the ship was just an isolated object left to the mercy of the elements of nature. There was no news of the land nor was any medium of convey messages ashore except perhaps by throwing a corked bottle containing a message and hoping that some years later someone might find it by chance and the word gets out. This might seem an adventurous scenario but believe me it was really a hard time. Modern day science has changed all this and computers use internet supplied via satellites to communicate with the shore through emails and satellite phones. Nowadays as far as communication is concerned it hardly makes a difference whether is ship is stranded in the middle of Pacific Ocean or is moored at a busy harbor. The image below shows the ship communication system through the use of satellites and other IT equipment

Ship Communication

Navigation is equally important apart from communication since it is not much use if you are in the middle of the ocean and can talk to your company at land but do not know where to proceed. Modern day navigation equipment such as GPS and other devices help a navigating officer to exactly follow the route despite darkness, bad weather or poor visibility.

Cargo operations which require precise balancing of the cargo on board whether it is bulk cargo or liquid oil cargo is necessary to ensure safety and stability of the ship even in trying weather conditions. Although this was done through manual calculations earlier, these days’ computers make this task very easy for the chief mate or the concerned officer. They can visually see the representation of various cargo levels and other parameters directly on the screens in front of them and the computer performs other calculations for them helping to load the cargo in a quick, efficient and safe manner. The screen shot below of the Loadmaster programs shows the progress of such an operation

Cargo Operation Software Screen

Training & Simulation is very necessary and these days computers are used for these purposes. There might be several situations which occur very rarely in actual life but it might be necessary to train junior officers and staff to handle such situations. Computer simulations are the best means to do so without having to imitate the exact situation in real life. This certainly helps to give experience and knowledge to the staff in a much more effective manner than by verbal or theoretical lectures alone.

Accounting is necessary on a ship since it carries a number of people who are all employees and need to be remunerated in a proper manner. It is therefore necessary to keep proper details of salaries, advances, provisions purchased and so on. These accounting jobs are pretty much the same as those required on land in company offices and computers tend to make the life of the person incharge quite easy.

Hence we have seen in these two articles that the use of computers on ships helps to increase efficiency, safety and productivity. Nowadays since cyber threats are on the rise, it is important to take proper measures for security of computers on board ships as well. This is ensured by installing proper authenticity measures and access controls at various levels and having other guidelines such as prohibition of attachments for personal messages of ship staff.

To conclude it can be said that computers have become an imminent part of modern ships. We will be starting a series which teachers the computer fundamentals to ship staff especially the junior crew members such as oilmen, fitters, welders and OS.

Image Credits

Ship Communication – The SINTEF Group