Maersk commits entire fleet to Voluntary Observing Ship Scheme

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Maersk has signed up its entire fleet of 300 ships to the Voluntary Observing Ship (VOS) Scheme, part of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS).

The global logistics firm already had half of its ships operating in VOS. Vessels in the VOS fleet contribute both manually observed weather data and sea state information, and that from shipboard automated weather systems, via national meteorological services (NMS), to GOOS. This data is then used to help refine various weather forecasting models and provide near-real-time information on sea conditions.

Not only has the company enlisted its vessels, it is also carrying out a program to update their AWS capabilities. Initially, five Maersk vessels were equipped with EUCAWS (European Common Automatic Weather Station) AWS. These systems – provided and installed by DWD, the German NMS – automatically acquire data on atmospheric pressure, air temperature and relative humidity and transmit it hourly. By the end of 2020, a total of 50 such stations are planned to be operational on Maersk ships, providing the largest fleet of AWS from one single company.

Maersk’s contribution is an important one, as there has been a decline in the number of vessels participating in the VOS scheme, attributed to pressures put on both financial and human resources in the logistics arena. However, this decline is offset to a degree by improved data quality, thanks to greater deployment of AWS and facilities such as electronic logbooks.

“I believe the work we are doing with Maersk is having a great impact,” said Darin Figurskey, the global lead for Ship Observations Team (SOT) under GOOS and a forecaster at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Figurskey provided an example of the value the shipping behemoth’s involvement brings: “While working a shift over Christmas, I received a very timely ship report from a vessel. The wind was reported at 37kts, with seas of 9.8ft at the time of the observation. This validated a satellite measurement we received around the same time and the gale warning we had in effect for seas to 10ft. I sent a note of thanks to relay to the vessel and it turns out that vessel was a Maersk vessel!”

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