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Intelligent Decisions for Safe Navigation in Polar Waters under Uncertain Spray Icing Events

Awarded: NOK 0.24 mill.

A major safety-related issue for the maritime activities and shipping in the polar waters is the accumulation of sea spray ice on vessels, which in severe cases, can lead to vessel capsizing and thus loss of life (e.g., loss of “Tradewind” in 2002, “Hunter” in 2007, in Alaska, the loss of the “Destination” fishing vessel in January 2017). The reports on loss of ONEGA fishing trawler in 2020 in the Barents Sea suggested that the capsizing of the vessel, although triggered by heaving icing events, was also attributed to a series of wrong decisions made on board by the vessel crew. This highlights the importance of risk-informed decision-making for safe navigation in the polar waters under harsh conditions. However, the research on managing the spray icing risks for sailing in Arctic waters and research on making informed decisions prior to sailing, and while sailing in the sea, with respect to sea spray icing are scarce. Moreover, there is no decision support model that considers the uncertainties related to the oceanographic and meteorological conditions in the Arctic and the dynamic nature of the spray icing risks. In this project, a sequential decision-making model under uncertainty will be developed using Markov Decision Processes, that maps the actions of the vessel crew to the set of states at each decision time. This research is conducted via collaborative collaboration between the Department of Technology and Safety at UiT-The Arctic University of Norway that offers well-stablished expertise and knowledge on spray icing, its climatology, and met-ocean conditions of the Norwegian Arctic waters, and the Department of Energy at Politecnico di Milano, Italy, which offers in-depth knowledge on intelligent decision-making models and advanced risk assessment tools. This multi-disciplinary research project and aims to generate knowledge and build competence in the areas of safe navigation and safe industrial activities in the Arctic offshore and polar waters.

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