Monday, 7 March 2011

What Can You Learn from the Danish BNWAS Experience?

While the international shipping community is starting to turn its attention to how it will comply with the latest amendments to SOLAS V/19, Denmark has had a national requirement of a BNWAS on Danish ships for some time. The Danish implementation started in March 2003 for ships with gross tonnage below 500 and thereafter gradually for larger ships. By 1st March 2006, the national requirement was in force for all ships.

At the fifty-second session of the IMO’s Sub-Committee on Safety of Navigation looked at the human aspect of BNWAS. The Sub-Committee was asked to look at how they could enhance the safety of navigation while still taking into account the human element. In response to this, Denmark has taken a look at the use of BNWAS on Danish ships and on how navigators view the system they use.

In the winter of 2006-07, the Danish Maritime Authority issued a questionnaire to get feedback on the use of BNWAS on Danish ships. 237 responses were received from OOW’s familiar to the use of BNWAS.

Summary of Results

• 93% of the navigators answered “Yes” to the question: “Do you regard the BNWAS to be part of the safety equipment on the bridge protecting the ship and her crew?” This clearly indicates that the OOW’s generally regard the BNWAS as a factor that enhances the safety of navigation.

• In most cases the procedures and routines for Bridge Resource Management on board the ships had been changed to ensure proper use of the BNWAS.

• The number of times the BNWAS had been activated varied according to the way the alarm was reset. Approximately half of the received answers were given from ships equipped with reset button system only. A reset button must be activated manually in order to reset or postpone an alarm.

• On ships with a reset button system, an innumerable number of alarms were seen or heard.

• BNWAS was in many cases only reset after the alarm was activated. The OOW on such ships generally felt the BNWAS to be a source of irritation and distraction. In total, approximately 20% of the OOW’s found the BNWAS irritating due to the many alarms.

• On ships with a system including activity sensors that detects movement on the bridge, the BNWAS gave very few alarms. Furthermore, the OOW on such ships generally viewed the BNWAS to be reassuring. No element of irritation was found in the answers in connection with this type of BNWAS.


Based on the views expressed in the questionnaires, a BNWAS that incorporates activity sensors rather than only a reset button should be installed on your vessels. This will reduce the number of alarms and avoid unnecessary stress and inconvenience to the OOW. This, however, is not an option for any of your vessels that are classed by Lloyd’s Register who have advised that the use of passive infra red (PIR) motion sensors is not acceptable for compliance with SOLAS V/19. All other Classification Societies will accept this form of activity detection.

Only 0.1% of all alarms went to the second stage giving audible alarm in the back-up officer’s and/or master’s locations. No alarms went to third stage giving audible alarm in the locations of further crew members.

How Can Martek Marine Help You?

Navgard, Martek Marine's fully Type Approved BNWAS, is available either with or without the use of PIR motion detectors. This gives you the choice, should your class society allow it, of the most convenient method of compliance for your ships and their crew.

The system is Type Approved by all of the major classification societies, including Lloyd's Register, meaning you can find a BNWAS for your whole fleet from one supplier, even if your vessels are classed by a variety of societies with differing rules.

For more information, click on the links below:

Navgard - Fully Type Approved BNWAS

More information about BNWAS

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