VISIR-I: small vessels – least-time nautical routes using wave forecasts
Abstract. A new numerical model for the on-demand computation of optimal ship routes based on sea-state forecasts has been developed. The model, named VISIR (discoVerIng Safe and effIcient Routes) is designed to support decision-makers when planning a marine voyage.
The first version of the system, VISIR-I, considers medium and small motor vessels with lengths of up to a few tens of metres and a displacement hull. The model is comprised of three components: a route optimization algorithm, a mechanical model of the ship, and a processor of the environmental fields. The optimization algorithm is based on a graph-search method with time-dependent edge weights. The algorithm is also able to compute a voluntary ship speed reduction. The ship model accounts for calm water and added wave resistance by making use of just the principal particulars of the vessel as input parameters. It also checks the optimal route for parametric roll, pure loss of stability, and surfriding/broaching-to hazard conditions. The processor of the environmental fields employs significant wave height, wave spectrum peak period, and wave direction forecast fields as input. The topological issues of coastal navigation (islands, peninsulas, narrow passages) are addressed.
Examples of VISIR-I routes in the Mediterranean Sea are provided. The optimal route may be longer in terms of miles sailed and yet it is faster and safer than the geodetic route between the same departure and arrival locations. Time savings up to 2.7 % and route lengthening up to 3.2 % are found for the case studies analysed. However, there is no upper bound for the magnitude of the changes of such route metrics, which especially in case of extreme sea states can be much greater. Route diversions result from the safety constraints and the fact that the algorithm takes into account the full temporal evolution and spatial variability of the environmental fields.