South Korea builds world's first 'smart ship'

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Seoul, Mar 24: South Korea has built the world's first smart vessel that can enhance operational efficiency and reduce management costs for shipping lines, the government said Thursday. The ship built by Hyundai Heavy Industries Co.

incorporates a new ship area network (SAN) system developed by the state-run Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said.

The SAN-equipped ship, to be launched on Tuesday, is a 250-meter long, 4,500 twenty-foot equivalent unit container vessel ordered by Denmark's AP Moller-Maersk, the world largest shipping line.

SANs permits comprehensive control and management of all important on-board systems, including engine power and navigation.

It can also permit shipping companies to get real-time feedback on the status of their ships via satellite link.

"In effect, both the captain of the vessel and shipping line will have exact information of the status of the ship, which improves management of the vessel," said Ryu Su-geun, head of the ministry's electronics and IT industries office.

Because vital information such as breakdowns can be sent directly to shipping lines, minor repairs can be fixed via the SANs system, while more serious problems involving broken parts can be handled more quickly because parts and repair personnel can be sent to the next port where the ship will arrive in advance, he said.

The official also said that building SAN-equipped ships will not add to the overall price of the vessel and can enhance competitiveness of local ship yards that have faced stiff competition from Chinese yards.

"These ships are expected to be much more efficient to operate during their 30-year life cycle, which should be very attractive to shipping lines," he said.

The ministry said that because there will be a need to make customized parts that are compatible with SANs, the system can actually fuel growth of local parts companies.

ETRI, meanwhile, said it plans to share the new system that it jointly developed with Hyundai with other local yards such as Samsung Heavy Industries, Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Co. and other smaller shipbuilders.

The institute said that it presently plans to supply the control system to 40 container ships ordered by AP Moller- Maersk with six more to be put into vessels ordered by two other foreign shipping lines.

PTI (Yonhap)

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