Pros and cons of integrated bridge systems for superyachts

21 January 2015By Mark Masciarotte
Part of Alfa Nero's integrated bridge. Captains are divided over the usefulness of these systems

For a number of years, commercial ships have been able to take advantage of prefabricated bridge consoles that are designed to provide the operator with a seamless integration of equipment for shiphandling, navigation and communications.

While this type of equipment is larger than can be accommodated on board many recreational vessels, it is slowly finding its way aboard large yachts, and answers vary as to whether such equipment is a valuable asset.

Among mariners, there seems to be widespread differences in the definition of the term 'integrated bridge'.

One group thinks of the systems used aboard ships, while the other group conjures images of black box equipment that is installed in a more traditional arrangement in a custom yacht console.

The former is best exemplified by the systems manufactured by Raytheon-Anschütz, Sperry or Kongsberg.

The Raytheon-Anschütz and Sperry systems are also available in a more yacht-appropriate custom form by manufacturers such as Alewijnse Marine Systems (used aboard some Oceanco and Amels yachts) and Radio Zeeland DMP (used aboard some Heesen, Vitters, Hakvoort, Royal Huisman, Feadship, Lürssen, Oceanco, and Abeking yachts).

Some new bridge control systems seem to take their cues from science-fiction TV shows
Deniki's bridge. Captain Anderson says, 'Integrated panels, when laid out by experienced operators, can be helpful in reducing distraction'

Today, console arrangements generally employ between five and seven widescreen monitors. Anderson says the higher-capability systems have a computer for each monitor instead of interswitching screen information, which is how systems are integrated on the other type of systems.

'Once the boat is sailing,' he adds, 'conning is often set to the middle screen, radars are next [outboard], followed by charts that can be brought into the central screen when piloting in close quarters.

'It has been the case that other controls such as anchor-wash and windshield wipers have been set up for monitor-based control. We do not recommend this as it is an operator distraction when simple direct control switches can be mounted on the dash or in the above equipment console.

'Also, certain important information, such as depth, does not require a large monitor; and when presented on a large monitor, creates night vision impairment,' explains Anderson.

'A well-designed conning screen can minimise that problem, while small screens in the upper console can take information off large screens on to a more appropriately sized monitor.'

Ethereal's flybridge is remarkably compact.

Kongsberg Maritime, Alewijnse, Klaus Jordan and Franco Pace

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