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The Modern Ship’s Bridge

The navigation bridge is situated on the uppermost deck with a clear view of the sea ahead and abeam. It is constructed so that the navigators get clear vision for 255o or more. From the conning position, vision should be from 112.5o port to 112.5o starboard. Forward windows are designed to provide a clear view without reflections.

A ship obviously navigates 24 hours a day on open deep sea voyages but also sometimes in restricted coastal shipping lanes in variable weather and sea conditions.

The ship’s bridge serves as a control and command station for the entire ship including mechanical and electronic functions. All systems and equipment must meet International Maritime Organization (IMO) standards and must be extensively tested and approved prior to installation and during their life-span.

The most common activities carried out on bridge can be described as:

  • Safe navigation and regular fixing of the ship’s position
  • Avoidance of collision
  • Setting of ship’s course and speed
  • Constant monitoring of weather and sea conditions
  • Coordination of Communication – external and internal

Primary electronic navigation equipment on a modern ship’s bridge:

1. Ships more than 10,000 GRT are fitted with at least two radars, each being Automatic Radar Plotting Aid (ARPA) equipped.

2. From July 2012 onwards, all vessels of 500 GRT and above are required to be fitted with an electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS). The advantages of this technology are:

  • Increased awareness and efficiency
  • Integrated availability of data
  • Increased real time navigational accuracy
  • Accurate passage planning
  • Automated, prompt and accurate chart updates

3. Depth indicator (water under keel)

4. Vessel speed indicator

5. Engine and rudder status indicators

6. Manual steering and autopilot stations

7. Control of main engines and bow thruster(s) where fitted

8. Advanced weather information systems for passage planning

Integrated Bridge Systems (IBS) are now commonly installed to provide efficient access to and monitoring of passage execution, communications, machinery control, safety and security.