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FSUE “Rosmorport” starts operating ferries on the Seaport of Ust-Luga – Seaport of Kaliningrad line in autonomous mode

FSUE “Rosmorport” starts operating ferries on the Seaport of Ust-Luga – Seaport of Kaliningrad line in autonomous mode

The innovative automobile and railway ferry General Chernyakhovsky became the first marine vessel in the country to start commercial operation in autonomous mode.

The solemn ceremony of launching the eco-ferry operating on the Seaport of Ust–Luga – Seaport of Kaliningrad line in remote control mode took place on December 19 at the forum “DIGITAL TRANSPORTATION” during the plenary session “Dreams That Will Come True: Russian Transport of 2040”. The vessel left the seaport of Ust-Luga and demonstrated the possibilities of movement using a-Navigation means during online broadcast.

Andrey Belousov, First Deputy Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation, addressed the participants of the ceremony:

“Today we are launching the General Chernyakhovsky sea ferry for its first autonomous voyage. This is not a test run. This is the start of a fully functional commercial operation of the vessel, which is supposed to deliver important socially significant cargoes to the Kaliningrad Region. Launching the ferry in an autonomous mode is the result of work that lasted for several years. The implementation of the project makes Russia one the world leaders in the development and applying of autonomous navigation.”

The event was attended by Dmitry Peskov, Special Representative of President of the Russian Federation for Digital and Technological Development, Alexander Poshivai, Deputy Minister of Transport of the Russian Federation, Kirill Gaida, Deputy General Director of FSUE “Rosmorport”, and Nikolai Pozhidaev, President of Sitronics, JSC.

Alexander Poshivai gave the command to start launching the ferry in remote mode to the Center of Marine Autonomous Vessels Remote Control (RCC) of FSUE “Rosmorport”. Sergey Rumyantsev, captain of the RCC of FSUE “Rosmorport”, contacted the forum participants from St. Petersburg, reporting on the readiness of the vessel to switch to autonomous mode: “The control of the vessel taken. The vessel is following the route Ust-Luga – Kaliningrad in autonomous mode. Communication with the vessel is stable, the equipment of the RCC and the vessel is working properly.”

“The advanced introduction of autonomous navigation technologies can ensure increased competitiveness, as well as the widespread use of Russian technologies both in Russia and abroad,” Alexander Poshivai said. “In our country, the development of maritime transport using autonomous navigation technologies is not a one-time project, but a purposeful state policy pursued by the Government of the Russian Federation. Using autonomous navigation technologies will reduce the operating costs of shipowners and improve the working conditions for ship crews.”
“Our country is the first in the world to start practical use of autonomous navigation technologies in real-life environment. FSUE “Rosmorport” is proud to stand at the origins of the introduction of a-Navigation in the Russian Federation as one of the key technologies in the digital transformation of the maritime industry. The mass implementation of such systems among a wide range of domestic shipowners will not only raise the safety of navigation and the competitiveness of maritime transport, but also improve the transport logistics of Russia as a whole. I am confident that through joint efforts we will continue to successfully cope with the tasks set to ensure safe and uninterrupted navigation throughout the country and, as a result, sustainable progressive development of the maritime industry,” Kirill Gaida noted.
“Today's event is a significant milestone for the industry and all project participants. This can already be considered a serial implementation of autonomous systems two ferries of the Ust-Luga – Baltiysk line are equipped with. For this purpose, special equipment and the software we developed have been installed. As a whole, all systems analyze the environment, transmit information to the systems of decision-making, maneuvering and monitoring the status of a vessel. Autonomous navigation is designed to improve the safety of navigation. Therefore, the technology will also be developed for river vessels. This autumn, we conducted successful tests of autonomous navigation in the waters of rivers, the solution will be finalized and implemented next year. We expect that with our joint efforts unmanned solutions will find their place in daily work both at sea and on rivers in the next few years,” Nikolai Pozhidaev said.

The General Chernyakhovsky ferry will pass about 500 nautical miles in an autonomous mode. The vessel will be controlled from the RCC during one part of the route that lies at full sea. The vessel will arrive at the seaport of Kaliningrad on December 21, 2023.

The work on transferring Marshal Rokossovsky and General Chernyakhovsky ferries to the mode of autonomous vessels has been carried out by FSUE “Rosmorport” together with Sitronics KT since 2022 as part of the federal project “Autonomous Navigation”. The Marshal Rokossovsky ferry, currently located in the seaport of Ust-Luga, is also ready for operation in the remote-control mode.

In September of the current year, the ferries received the first certificates of maritime autonomous and remotely operated surface ships (MASS) in Russia. The documents allow for remote control of vessels with the possibility to switch to manual control when moving at sea, as well as to manual control with decision support, including when passing through narrow waters and entering a port.

To date, the ferries are equipped with a-Navigation equipment, including an autonomous navigation system, an optical system for analyzing the environment and the status of the vessel, a motion and maneuvering control system, as well as a system for controlling and monitoring the vessel's systems.

In addition to remote control of vessels at full sea, the RCC provides the ability to monitor the surrounding navigation situation, as well as control the main parameters of ferry traffic. The center is equipped with the necessary equipment, in particular a remote control device, and is the workplace of the operator of an autonomous vessel.