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NYK participates in “Designing the Future of Full Autonomous Ship Project”



NYK participates in “Designing the Future of Full Autonomous Ship Project”. Image: NYK LINE
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NYK and NYK Group companies Japan Marine Science Inc. and MTI Co., Ltd. are participating in the Designing the Future of Full Autonomous Ship Project (hereinafter referred to as the DFFAS Project).* Comprising 22 domestic Japanese companies, the project has been decided to be sponsored by the Joint Technological Development Programme for the Demonstration of Unmanned Ships** under the administration of the Nippon Foundation. With the support of the foundation, the DFFAS Project will aim to conduct the world’s first successful crewless maritime autonomous surface ship demonstration trial in order to advance the practical use of crewless maritime autonomous surface ships by 2025.

Outline of the DFFAS Project

The DFFAS project aims to realize a domestic coastal shipping business supported by crewless maritime autonomous surface ships. The NYK Group will make full use of the technology and experience so far cultivated in the technological development of maritime autonomous surface ships (MASS) into this project. The DFFAS project will work toward the standardization of technology and the establishment of systems and infrastructure as well. Moreover, the project plans to carry out a long-distance demonstration trial within FY2021 in congested waters using a domestic coastal containership to realize the world’s first crewless maritime autonomous surface ship.

Features of DFFAS Project

The DFFAS project has the following characteristics under the concept of “creating the future of crewless maritime autonomous surface ships — a grand design devised by various experts.”

a) A project structure that values the concept of open collaboration among 22 domestic companies that are responsible for creating the future of the Japanese shipping industry, cooperating together with various domestic and foreign experts.

b) Development and demonstration of comprehensive system functions required for crewless maritime autonomous surface ships including remote operation in case of an emergency, automation of berthing/unberthing, operations in accordance with the approved route plan and action plan, and the monitoring of support functions from the fleet operation center (including ship-shore data communication system).

* Companies participating in the DFFAS project include Japan Marine Science Inc. (project leader); MTI Co., Ltd.; IKOUS Corporation; BEMAC Corporation; SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation; TOKYO KEIKI INC.; Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation; NTT DOCOMO, INC., Japan Radio Co., Ltd.; NYK; FURUNO ELECTRIC CO., LTD.; Weathernews Inc.; EIZO Corporation; NTT Communications Corporation; Japan Hamworthy Co., Ltd.; Japan Marine United Corporation; Nabtesco Corporation; Nippon Shipping Co., Ltd.; pluszero Inc.; Honda Heavy Industries Co., Ltd.; Yokogawa Denshikiki Co., Ltd. and Mitsubishi Research Institute Inc.;
The DFFAS project will consider adding new participants as needed.

** A subsidization scheme to cultivate further momentum for technological development in the field of crewless maritime autonomous surface ships, promoting changes in logistics, economies, and social infrastructure in Japan, and supporting such technological development through the success of the world’s first crewless autonomous operation trials by domestic coastal vessels.

NYK promotes activities that contribute to the achievement of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) through the company’s business activities, and digital-technology use and technology-development efforts to realize crewless maritime autonomous surface ships will contribute to the below goals.

NYK participates in "Designing the Future of Full Autonomous Ship Project"

NYK participates in “Designing the Future of Full Autonomous Ship Project”. Image: NYK Line


Alabama U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sign Project Partnership Agreement to deepen Port of Mobile 



Alabama U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sign Project Partnership Agreement to deepen Port of Mobile. Image: Wikimedia/ Adrien Lamarre, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
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Alabama’s seaport modernization program reached another critical milestone when the State of Alabama and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers entered into the Project Partnership Agreement that will deepen and widen the Port of Mobile in late 2024 or early 2025.

Colonel Sebastien P. Joly, Commander of the Mobile District, and John C. Driscoll, Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Alabama State Port Authority, signed the agreement, which allows the Corps of Engineers to move into contracting and construction phases to take the Port of Mobile’s federal channel to a depth of 50 feet. Construction is expected to begin on the approximately $365.7 million project by the end of this year. 

Mobile Harbor modernization program received full federal funding in February this year upon passage of the Energy & Water Development and Related Agencies Act. Under the Act, approximately $377.6 million is available to qualifying projects in Alabama and two other U.S. Gulf states. Key features of the program will explore innovative ways of executing dredging in a logical, sequenced manner, unconstrained by more traditional project-specific, account-specific, or single-year work plans. 

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) lauded today’s crucial and final step that allows the Corps to move forward on construction. “Today’s signing of the Mobile Harbor Project agreement is yet another milestone in the process of the deepening and widening the Port of Mobile. The completion of this historic project will transform Alabama, expanding economic opportunities throughout our state and the region. Further, the modernization of Alabama’s primary port will increase the United States’ competitiveness in the global market. I am extremely grateful for the support of the Army Corps of Engineers and the work of the Alabama State Port Authority to ensure that this project, which I have spent years championing, crosses the finish line with ease,” said Shelby. 

The Mobile Harbor Modernization project also received the State of Alabama’s funding commitment in March 2019 when Alabama Legislature passed and Gov. Kay Ivey (R-AL) signed into law the Rebuild Alabama Act that allocates a portion of state fuel tax proceeds to support approximately $150 million in bonds to meet the federal cost-share requirements for the harbor project.

“Beyond the impact on the local and state levels, the Port of Mobile serves as a catalyst to our nation’s competitive position in the global economy. I have been proud to support The Mobile Harbor Modernization project, and I look forward to watching the growing benefits our Port will have in the years to come,” Gov. Ivey said. “The Port of Mobile is now poised to become a major hub for export activity, and this is yet another giant step forward in supporting our industries in the Americas and beyond. Alabama can be proud of the powerful economic tool that is our own Port of Mobile.” 

The Mobile Harbor deepening and widening project received its Record of Decision in September 2019, following an extensive four-year, environmental impact and economic feasibility study. With both federal funding and the state’s match secured, the project can now leverage ongoing terminal investments in more Alabama’s only seaport to ensure economies of scale and competitive rates for the seaport’s mining, manufacturing, agribusiness and retail/distribution shippers.

Just this past year, the Port Authority completed its $50 million, Phase 3 expansion that added 20 acres of container handling yard and extended the dock to allow simultaneous berth of two Post-Panamax sized ships. The project complements prior investments totaling $450 million in marine and rail container intermodal facilities. “The Mobile Harbor project leverages shore-side port investments that provide shippers cost competitive transportation solutions in an ever changing and increasingly competitive global economy,” said John Driscoll. “I’m deeply appreciative of the groundwork my predecessor, Jimmy Lyons, and the Authority’s team, delivered to realize this important project.” 

The Alabama State Port Authority represents the State of Alabama’s public, deep-water terminals serving general cargo, container, over-dimensional and bulk cargoes. In CY2019, the public seaport terminals generated over 150,000 jobs and $25.4 billion in economic value to the state. The public terminals have immediate access to two interstate systems, five (5) Class 1 railroads, and nearly 15,000 miles of inland waterway connections.

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Hydrographic survey vessel Geo Ranger performed successfully her sea trials 



Hydrographic survey vessel Geo Ranger performed successfully her sea trials. Image: NIESTERN SANDER
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From 15-19 June, the hydrographic survey vessel Geo Ranger performed successfully her sea trials on the river Ems. In presence of the client Geo Plus, surveyors of Lloyd’s Register and various commissioning engineers of Kongsberg and Alewijnse, the capabilities of the vessel were tested thoroughly.


In April 2019, Royal Niestern Sander and Geo Plus BV signed the contract for the construction of the hydrographic research vessel “Geo Ranger”, yard number 864. After the start of construction in September 2019, the ship was transported early February from the construction hall to the quay side to prepare for the launch in March 2020.

The ship was designed together with Conoship International BV and will be rented out by our client to parties that perform research, such as dredging companies and companies that build and maintain offshore wind farms.

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Port of Oakland’s largest terminal gets three giant cranes in fall



Port of Oakland’s largest terminal gets three giant cranes in fall. Image: Port of Oakland
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Three cranes able to load the world’s largest container ships will soon be headed to the Port of Oakland.  Shanghai-based manufacturer ZPMC said this week that construction of the ship-to-shore behemoths is nearing completion in China.

The cranes are due at Oakland International Container Terminal Sept. 14, according to terminal operator SSA Terminals.  At 300-feet-high, it’s believed they’d be the tallest in North America when they commence operations in January.

“As ships keep getting bigger, SSA and ZPMC continue to help us keep ahead of the industry,” said Port of Oakland Executive Director Danny Wan.  “We’re very excited and grateful for the partnership.”

ZPMC and SSA updated maritime executives on the new cranes this week at a meeting of the Propeller Club.  Here are the vital statistics:

  • The cranes can lift containers 174 feet above the dock, enabling them to stack boxes 12-high on ships.
  • They can reach 125 feet across a ship’s deck, spanning 24 rows of containers.
  • They’ll be delivered by ship and require five days to be transferred from vessel to dock.

SSA operates the largest marine terminal at the Port of Oakland. Terminals are where ships are loaded and unloaded and where freight haulers pick up or drop off containerized cargo. Ultra large container vessels can carry up to 24,000 20-foot containers.  ZPMC and SSA said Oakland’s new cranes were designed to load and unload ships that big.  SSA placed a $30 million order for its new cranes in February 2019. In 2018, it completed a project to raise the height of four other ship-to-shore cranes.

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