Maritime accident investigation

Our ship simulator, BMT REMBRANDT, can assist in the investigation of a maritime accident through simulating events with the vessel's recorded electronic data. By providing in-depth marine accident analysis, were helping authorities to understand the complexities of a shipping accident, come to a successful resolution and define mitigating measures.

Maritime accident investigation

Our ship simulator, BMT REMBRANDT, can assist in the investigation of a maritime accident through simulating events with the vessel's recorded electronic data. By providing in-depth marine accident analysis, were helping authorities to understand the complexities of a shipping accident, come to a successful resolution and define mitigating measures.


BMT REMBRANDT can help reconstruct maritime accidents such as collisions, allisions or groundings. This can then be used to help identify the root cause of the incident and to carry out simulations to investigate alternative scenarios. Using our desktop maritime navigational simulation software with shipboard Voyage Data Recorder (VDR) data and regional automatic identification systems (AIS) information we're able to produce accurate three dimensional recreations of maritime accidents.

Maritime accident reconstruction and simulation

BMT REMBRANDT has been developed with commercial ship operators, pilots and statutory accident investigation bodies. Our ship simulator provides the essential functionality of visual reconstruction and playback facility with a full simulation to test “what-if” scenario. This helps marine accident investigators to explore the impact of different weather conditions as well as alternative rudder and engine orders.

Maritime accident data

Our marine simulator software can automatically import and load NMEA standard ship data, AIS data for traffic vessels, audio data from bridge mics and screen captures from electronic chart display and information systems (ECDIS) and radar systems. This data can be easily imported and synchronised by selecting a single folder containing the standard format VDR data. Data from multiple vessels can be imported into the simulator. Time stamped AIS data is automatically synched allowing the seamless visual reconstruction of marine accidents involving multiple vessels. This source data is then combined with with customised hydrodynamic model of the ship to simulate the event.

Visual reconstruction of the environment

Our ship simulator can be fully configured to carefully reconstruct the environmental conditions of the accident. A 3D image is generated using a combination of the VDR data as well as bathymetry and land profiles from the electronic navigational chart (ENC). The sun and moon positions for the location and time are calculated to provide representative lighting conditions. Additional details from buoy, beacon and light information is also added to the simulation. Lights on traffic vessels are shown according to the ship status information provided by the AIS data. The user can move the viewpoint during playback and even switch to other vessels providing a holistic view of the environmental conditions.

Exploring alternative outcomes

Following a visual reconstruction and playback of the accident, the next step is to test alternative outcomes, explore other scenarios and the impact of onboard decisions. Within the playback of the ship simulation, a hydrodynamic model calibrated with the prevailing meteorological conditions, can be selected and overlaid on top of a VDR tracked vessel model. A VDR tracked model and a fully interactive simulation model can then run in parallel. The user can then take full control of the simulated vessel. This provides a powerful “what-if” added dimension to a basic 3D visual reconstruction, allowing the user to explore alternative decisions and outcomes.

Panamax bulk carrier and a crude oil tanker collision

This provides an example where VDR, bridge audio etc. data from the bulk carrier has been obtained and converted. Four screen capturers are shown from a thirty-minute video reconstruction of the incident.
The bulk carrier was transiting (full ahead manoeuvring) the NE bound lane of the Singapore Straits. No VDR data was made available for the crude oil tanker, so time-stamped AIS has been imported to display the tanker, which was crossing the SE lane to join the NE bound lane.

Collision between a tanker and general cargo vessel in an Anchorage Area:

AIS data was used to reconstruct a collision between a 36,600dwt combined chemical and oil tanker and a 4,500dwt general cargo vessel outside the Port of Rotterdam.

Both vessels suffered extensive damage in the incident after their anchors dragged in adverse conditions. The general cargo vessel had anchored some 0.8nm away from the tanker when it had been forced to move within the anchorage area after being blown into a nearby shipping lane in the force and near spring tide conditions. This meant both ships were unable to maintain their position. The tanker was sitting high in the water with no cargo onboard, and it was blown towards the general cargo vessel before the crew had gained enough control of the vessel.

More

Guidelines for Collecting Maritime Evidence

Dr Phil Thompson features in this Nautical Institute publication, looking at the topic of 'Using electronic data for visual reconstruction and analysis of collisions, allisions and groundings.

Read more