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World's first smart ship developed and built in China

By Zhao Lei | China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-03 07:52

The world's first smart ship, developed and built by China State Shipbuilding Corp, has started its first trial voyage in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, according to the State-owned shipbuilder.

The 38,800-metric ton bulk carrier, named Great Smart, started a weeklong trial on Tuesday off Guangzhou and will be delivered at the end of this year to an unidentified lessee, CSSC said in a statement.

It was designed primarily by Shanghai Merchant Ship Design and Research Institute and built by Huangpu Wenchong Shipbuilding Co in Guangzhou. The two entities are subsidiaries of CSSC.

The ship is a modified version of the Green Dolphin fuelefficient bulk carrier concept. The company calls it the world's first smart ship because it is the first seafaring vehicle awarded the "cybersafe", "cyber-perform" and "cyber-maintain" smart-vessel notations by the British maritime classification society Lloyd's Register, one of the top maritime technical standards services.

Great Smart also has the "intelligent ship" notation from China Classification Society, according to CSSC.

Three ships built by South Korean shipyard Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction have been certified with the "cyber-safe" notation by Lloyd's Register but cannot be considered smart ships, said Gu Yiqing, a chief designer of smart ships at the Shanghai Merchant Ship Design and Research Institute.

Gu said Great Smart has a set of integrated information systems capable of autonomously monitoring, recording and analyzing the conditions and operations of major equipment such as engines and propeller shafts. The data reduces the crew's workload, improves efficiency and avoids misjudgments, she said.

The designer said the digital transformation has not resulted in a smaller crew size on Great Smart compared with similar vessels because the number of sailors for each class is stipulated by regulations. But further technological and regulatory developments will allow such reductions, she said. Large-scale application of smart technologies will enable ship owners to save costs in ship maintenance and fleet operations, Gu said.

Wang Yi, deputy general manager of Huangpu Wenchong, said smart ships have expanded capabilities since they consume less fuel and can operate with higher reliability and safety.

Great Smart will apply up-to-date information technology, including real-time data transmission and collection, large-capacity calculations, digital modeling and remote control, according to a news release published by Lloyd's Register. "All of this is designed into the ship to better guarantee navigational safety and improve operational efficiency of the vessel," it said.

Gu said China is at the forefront in research and development on smart ships while shipbuilding giants in Europe, Japan and South Korea have also invested heavily in this field.

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