The latest version of the fast–time simulation program SHIPMA is a joint development of MARIN and Deltares. The combined contribution of these institutes is leading to a fit for purpose program to simulate the manoeuvring behaviour of vessels in ports and fairways.

In SHIPMA the vessels are steered by an autopilot which is capable of operating in the track keeping mode and the
harbour manoeuvring mode, making it possible to perform typical harbour manoeuvres like turning, reverse sailing
and berthing.

SHIPMA applications

The application of SHIPMA is primarily in port and fairway design, referring to both approach channels and inland waterways. According to PIANC (PIANC-IAPH Working Group II-30, APPROACH CHANNELS; “A Guide for Design”) a first estimate of the required channel width based on their methodology has to be followed by ship manoeuvring simulations. These simulations give insight into the inherent possibilities and/or restrictions of vessels, infrastructure and environmental conditions including the effect of additional manoeuvring devices like bow and stern thrusters and the role of tugs. Based on the insights gained, mitigations, if needed, of the infrastructure design (channel layout, manoeuvring basin and terminal layout) and/or the admittance policy can be proposed. In the final stage of the design the SHIPMA study can be followed by a study on a real-time simulator.


Contact person photo

Dick ten Hove

Senior Project Manager

Methodology of SHIPMA use

SHIPMA relies on the use of an autopilot, which also includes a tug and thruster allocation algorithm. The choice for using an autopilot rather than hands-on steering by a pilot or Master allows the engineer to clearly judge and compare the results of different simulations on technical and physical aspects. The use of an automatic pilot in desktop simulation assures repeatability and a consistent nautical assessment procedure. The hands-on mode often seen in other models (actively steering the ship over a chart displayed on a screen) would put a civil engineer in a position where he is in fact playing the role of a pilot or Master. Alternatively, one could ask a pilot to do the runs, but the chart display offered to him is rather different from his normal sailing practice. This will jeopardise the result of the manoeuvres. Furthermore, runs have to be repeated to guarantee consistency.