Safer ship travel with XProtect

July 2014 Entertainment and Hospitality (Industry)

Hurtigruten is a traditional ferry service for the transportation of goods and passengers between Bergen and Kirkenes in Norway. Hurtigruten has served the coastal population since 1866 and was appreciated from the start not only as a transport route but also as a tourist attraction. The route currently employs 11 vessels that call at 34 ports every day of the year. More than 230 000 passengers sail on one of Hurtigruten’s vessels every year. The route has been called ‘the most beautiful voyage in the world’ by various publishers and commentators.

On September 15, 2011 a disaster occurred. An explosive fire broke out in the engine room of one of Hurtigruten’s vessels, MS Nordlys. The passengers and crew were evacuated, but the fire caused great damage to the vessel, which required repairs in a shipyard for five months. Nordlys was only able to re-enter service on March 20, 2012. In connection with the renovation, it was decided to replace and modernise the communication system and infrastructure.

The consultancy firm NCMC was engaged to develop the new system standard. NCMC are consultants for maritime IT system solutions and act as a test centre, evaluating solutions for all needs on board a vessel. The objective is to install innovative technology of the highest quality with the best functionality.

IP puts out the fire

The old infrastructure on board the MS Nordlys was based on an analogue matrix that was completely destroyed in the fire. When the new telephone cables were laid, a modern IP network was also installed. The old analogue surveillance cameras were replaced with the latest in IP video technology. Twenty-three network cameras from Axis Communications were installed, with XProtect Professional video management software from Milestone Systems. The surveillance system was integrated with the rest of the infrastructure and MS Nordlys got a state-of-the-art surveillance system that enhances the safety and security of the passengers and crew, as well as improved communication on board the vessel.

“The total surveillance solution was very good because Axis has products that fit into many different environments, and Milestone’s software is flexible, reliable and easy to use. My objective is always to find the state-of-the-art, and the Axis/Milestone combination provides this,” says Idar Flø, CEO of NCMC.

The XProtect portfolio offerings are based on open platform standards and support over 1500 different models of network cameras running via local area network (LAN), wide-area network (WAN) or the Internet.

The Nordlys has a dedicated virtual LAN (VLAN) for its surveillance, which will now be the standard for the company to easily extend the solution to other ships. Installing IP networks on board vessels can be a challenge since the ships move all the time. If you want to have contact with shore, you risk interruption when the ship moves. On MS Nordlys this was solved by using three different network technologies that complement and back each other up. This guarantees contact with the control rooms in ports.

“By using a common IT-based standard for the infrastructure, this can also be implemented on other ships. It is then easier for the control rooms on shore to communicate with the ships in service,” says Flø.

Safer sailing

Several essential operations on board the vessel benefit from using the surveillance system: Guest reception, the retail shop, unloading and loading, wharf landings, the car deck traffic, the bridge overview and the engine room all represent task areas for the crew, who gain enhanced performance and safety from the surveillance.

The video from the engine room helps the engineers on board to make sure that everything is in proper working order. Monitoring also ensures additional safety for the crew in the engine room because their colleagues located elsewhere on the vessel can be alerted to warn them in time if something happens that requires fast response. The camera installed on the mast also provides additional coverage: the captain can see the colour of the engine smoke to make sure that no fire has broken out below.

The camera models used are Axis P3343, P3344, P1343 and P1344, and Axis M3204 in the shop on board the vessel. The pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) model P5534-E is used on the car deck. These are housed in stainless steel to cope with the extreme external stress from wind and weather as well as moisture and heat in the ship’s engine room.

“The image quality from the Axis cameras is very high. We have also benefited greatly from Milestone’s solution. It provides an overview and control that is easy and intuitive to use, as well as providing improved safety for the passengers,” says Ole Johan Andreassen, Captain of MS Nordlys.

Hurtigruten may add more cameras in the future, and the Milestone open platform can flexibly expand as needed to manage this. The company is also looking at introducing intelligent video through analytics: ‘people counting’ is such an integration that can be of great benefit in emergency situations, for example in an evacuation of the vessel.

For more information contact Milestone Systems, +1 503 350 1100,,


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