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The Optimal Navigation Support System

European Union
Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Network and traffic management systems (NTM)
Transport mode
Waterborne icon
Transport policies
Transport sectors
Passenger transport,
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

In the past the navigation of ships has been more of an art than a science, relying heavily on the knowledge and skills of captains to maximise ship safety and navigational efficiency. There have been some supporting developments in this area including the introduction of limited hull monitoring systems and the availability of sea and weather state information but these have been very restricted in their application. There was a need for a system to support ships' captains in strategic voyage planning from the perspective of efficiency and safety and with decision support capabilities that would allow them to integrate on-board stress monitoring with sea and weather state information to support optimal tactical navigational choices during the course of any voyage. As ships become larger and more sophisticated issues of tracking fatigue and ensuring appropriate maintenance become more complex. This requireed the ability to track the actual experience of the ship so that a comprehensive picture of the stresses it has been subjected to can be created and used as the basis for planned and preventative maintenance. OPTINAV seeked to address these issues in a comprehensive and integrated way and had the potential to improve both the safety and the economics of the shipping industry.


OPTINAV had three sets of objectives related to the past, present and future of a ship. For the past OPTINAV was supposed to enable a record of the stresses experienced by the ship, most importantly correlated with the prevailing sea and weather state information at the time, to be built up. It shall also provide valuable information to insurers of the ship, potential purchasers and captains again, who would benefit from being able to understand how the stresses in the ship responded to actions taken in the past for a given set of ship, sea and weather data.

For the present OPTINAV shall measure actual stress levels in the ship and compare these with acceptable tolerance levels. It had to provide the captain of the ship with continuously updated information on the remaining fatigue life of the ship on the basis of actual stresses incurred during the current voyage.

For the future OPTINAV was expected to offer innovations in both the long term and short-term perspectives of the voyage. In the long term it should offer the facility to combine ship, sea state and weather information to plan the best available route. In the short term it shall combine the three sets of data to provide the captain with a clear idea of the stresses that the ship would experience over the next few minutes, half and hour, hour, etc. if he continues with his current course and speed and help him to identify alternatives if the response of the ship is expected to be outside its normal tolerances.


The principal activities of OPTINAV have focused on:

  • creating a system that able to anticipate oncoming difficult navigational situations either jointly or separately, for hull structure, ship's equipment/performance, passengers and cargo, based upon continuously monitored data;
  • developing reliable methods of automatic monitoring, prediction and shore-based expert guidance;
  • creating an advanced yet flexible system of data logging and processing;
  • providing a means of continuous review of ship's fatigue life which will be used to prioritise maintenance requirements;
  • exploring new algorithms for extracting implicit relationships within databases and through information from the load cycle spectra to assist in planning of inspection and maintenance of the ship; and
  • using the above data and algorithms to minimise costs by anticipating major defects and to provide a uniform level of reliability throughout a ship's life.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
European Comission, DG Information Society
Type of funding
Public (EU)


OPTINAV builds a state-of-the-art, ship-borne, predictive event management and captain support system based upon a number of distinct existing tools such as real-time hull condition monitoring, bow accelerometers, static load balancing and fuel metering. In addition, it integrates information relating to weather forecasting, sea state and ship navigational response. With built in assessment and analysis tools, OPTINAV provides the ship operator with suitable choices for the management of the vessel. It is aimed at reducing operational costs whilst ensuring improved safety levels for the ship. It is designed to effectively support short and longer-term voyage planning.

Technical Implications

OPTINAV offers a record of the stresses experienced by the ship. It measures actual stress levels in the vessel and compares these with acceptable levels. It provides continuously updated information on the remaining fatigue life of the ship on the basis of actual stresses incurred.


Policy implications

IST applications relating to transport  provides for teleservices in areas such as maintenance, dependability, remote diagnostics and ship performance monitoring including environmental aspects, and operator support. A shipping sector specific, open technology platform may support the integration of key IST services and applications for the shipping industry. To support the continuously growing demands in terms of safety and operational requirements, onboard systems are becoming more sophisticated and ICT dependent.


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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