Skip to content
Maritime Impact Our expertise in stories
Toggle Menu

ERS™ drift prediction service growing in popularity among tanker owners

DNV’s ERS ™ drift prediction service is growing in popularity among tanker owners. As it continues to play an increasingly important role in the tanker management self-assessment (TMSA) and vetting process, users are already seeing the obvious advantages of the service compared to traditional manual methods.

DNV’s drift prediction service has grown in popularity since its launch in June 2022. More than 2,000 ships from 288 companies have now subscribed to the service, the majority of which belong to the tanker market. The feedback from users of the groundbreaking technology – which serves as an extension of DNV’s Emergency Response Service (ERS™) – has been overwhelmingly positive, and ship owners and their clients have been quick to appreciate the wide-ranging benefits of an offering which improves safety standards, minimizes risk and is expected to form an increasingly important part of the TMSA process for the global tanker market.

Service utilizes advanced software to provide real-time data

The drift prediction service applies state-of-the-art software from the Norwegian Meteorological Institute (MET) to plot the most likely path of a drifting ship or objects fallen overboard. The service will also help clients to predict the drifting path of an oil spill, including estimating the amount of oil that will evaporate, disperse or remain on or under the sea surface. When a drifting incident occurs, ship captains can immediately contact members of DNV’s ERS™ team, who are available 24 hours a day. Drawing on wind, current and wave data from verified sources, the ERS™ team will, within a very short time, provide the ship captain with information detailing the most likely path of the drifting ship or object. This data is constantly updated and conveyed to the ship, improving its chances of avoiding hazardous collisions and enabling it to plan an efficient support or search and rescue operation.  

Shipowners’ main concern is predicting the pathway of a drifting ship

While all parts of the drift prediction service are seen as crucial, feedback from shipowners indicates that the original purpose of the drift prediction software – predicting the most likely trajectory of a drifting ship – remains its most important functionality.  

Dionysios Peppas, director marine, HSQE & vetting at Pantheon Tankers, one of the earliest subscribers to the drift prediction service, explains the benefits:  

“The idea is that if you have a disabled ship, she will be drifting. You immediately need to mobilize salvors and tugboats, which of course are not readily available. When you mobilize them, they must start moving towards your ship, so it is important to know where your ship is drifting to, in order to steer the salvors directly to the predicted position and not to the initial one. By this calculation, you may gain vital time, you may save lives, you may prevent pollution.” 

Drift prediction service is a significant improvement on manual methods

Ships can begin drifting for a number of reasons. Propulsion, steering or gear failure, or even the necessary immobilisation of engines for repairs can all result in large vessels carrying valuable commodities being exposed to the unpredictability of the seas. Before DNV’s drift prediction service became available, most ship operators had to rely on manual drift calculations, which were unreliable and inaccurate. 

“These are not accurate,” says Peppas. “We have done it in the past in actual situations and they were not accurate at all, they did not give us any benefits.” 

Drift prediction service provides advantage in TMSA process

Although still in its early stages, DNV’s drift prediction service is already helping a number of shipowners to fulfil a crucial part of the vetting process of some international oil majors. 

“Oil companies are extremely vigilant, the safety of tankers is high on their agenda and they are looking for continuous improvement all the time. This is why drift prediction was brought into focus,” says Rossen Panev, Principle Engineer at DNV’s ERS™ division.  

Following some high-profile incidents in the past, IOCs and tanker operators are known to have some of the highest safety standards in an already stringently regulated maritime world. Drift prediction capability is now being regarded as an added requirement among some IOCs. 

“One oil major we are working with requires all tanker operators to have in-house capability for drift prediction for disabled ships and oil spills,” says Peppas. “Companies have experiences, they learn their lessons and they implement preventative actions, and this is a meaningful preventative action following a loss of power incident or loss of steering.” 

Although oil majors do not specifically require tankers to subscribe to DNV’s drift prediction service, its superior capability provides tanker companies with an easy way of convincing operators that they are prepared for drift scenarios during the crucial TMSA and vetting processes. The importance of this will increase as knowledge of the service becomes more widespread. 

“It is definitely useful and saves us some time to be able to report in the TMSA submission that we have subscribed to the drift prediction service,” says Peppas. 

Drills and exercises form a crucial part of the service

Subscribers to DNV’s drift prediction service experience close collaboration with DNV as soon as they sign up. DNV’s ERS™ team works with clients in creating real-time simulations, integrating all aspects of the drift prediction service, including oil spills and objects overboard, as well as other services within the ERS™ bundle. This enables clients to understand the full value of the service and how to implement it when in need. 

“It’s always a good idea to run these drills, and we try to integrate all the services,” says Peppas. “During our last drill, we had the combined scenario of a disabled ship plus oil leaking into the sea. We had to integrate DNV drift prediction, damage stability, salvage and marine firefighting. We had to integrate the service of qualified individuals (QIs) while we were calculating the drift of the oil spill at the same time.” 

During these drills, output from the drift prediction service is compared with traditional manual methods, highlighting how much more accurate DNV’s methods are, and how beneficial this can be to shipowners.  

Rapid expansion expected in coming months and years

As with all products within ERS™, subscriptions are not limited to the class of vessels, flag or type, and a growing number of companies operating non-tank vessels like bulk carriers, container carriers, cargo ships, cruise ships and offshore units are integrating the service into their emergency response plans. 

“We are keen and committed to support anyone who wants to benefit from our services, and we are not turning anyone back,” says Panev, who expects further evolution from the service in the future. 

“We are doing continuously testing and improving the service, and we see many more possibilities for the future,” continues Panev. “It is getting more popular and is picking up speed. We are just getting started. Until now the service has already proven its advantages in four real-time drift situations.”

Contact us
Rossen K. Panev

Rossen K. Panev

Principle Engineer ERS, Norway

View image copyright information

The RelatedArticles module failed to load

Get regular tanker insights!

Don’t be left out. Join the thousands others and sign up today to receive the latest insights.

Sign up