Dynamic Positioning: Theory & Practices

Published Date

October 2017

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Dynamic Positioning: Theory & Practices

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This book provides a solid foundation on the use of dynamic positioning systems, covering the theory, system components, operational application and practical advice. It is designed to supplement DP system user manuals and to enhance safety of DP planning and use. This includes the latest text from the most recent IMO meeting which is MSC 98

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Dynamic positioning is a complex subject with a wide range of systems and applications. This book comprehensively explains DP principles and procedures for all users, reinforcing the theory throughout with full-colour illustrations and photographs.


The publication is divided into the following sections:


The Theory of Dynamic Positioning

This section describes the components and controls of a DP system and illustrates different system layouts and configurations. It looks in detail at position measurement, position keeping, system tests, Class requirements and the functions available to the DP operator. It also describes planning of a DP operation, including risk assessment, operational considerations, safety features and contingency plans.



This section details the use, limitations and system checks for a wide range of DP components and equipment, including differential GNSS, FANBEAM and CyScan systems, Artemis, taut wire, RADius and RadaScan systems, HPR and HAIN systems, gyrocompass, motion reference unit/vertical reference unit, wind sensors and thrusters.


Trials, Tests and Failures

This section looks at the trials and checks that are required to ensure compliance with standards and guidelines. It describes processes for identifying critical single point failures, so that they can be eliminated or minimised at an early stage. It also describes common failures and emergencies, using case studies to illustrate how they may be avoided.


Roles of DP Vessels

This section explains the principles and procedures of dynamic positioning in a number of applications, including diving, offshore drilling, ROV support, pipe and cable lay, anchor handling, heavy lifts, FPSOs, shuttle tankers, dredging and rock dumping. It identifies critical stages in these operations together with the applicable DP functions.

About the Author



Part I – Theory of Dynamic Positioning

1. Offshore Environment

1.1 Development of Dynamic Positioning (DP)

1.2 Offshore Structures

1.3 Types of DP Vessels

2. Components of a DP System

2.1 Definitions .

2.2 Components of a Dynamic Positioning System

2.2.1 The Vessel Model

2.2.2 Thrusters

2.2.3 Controller

2.2.4 Position Reference System (PRS)

2.2.5 Sensors

2.2.6 Power System

2.2.7 Human Machine Interface (HMI)

2.3 Operational Modes

2.3.1 Independent Joystick Control System (IJS)

2.3.2 Centre of Rotation

3. DP System Architecture

3.1 Concept of Redundancy and Equipment Classes

3.1.1 Worst-Case Failure Design Intent and Worst-Case Failure

3.1.2 Redundancy

3.1.3 Equipment Classes

3.2 Integrated Vessel Management System

3.3 Thruster Configuration

3.4 Cables and Piping Systems

3.5 Isolation from Other Systems

3.6 Emergency Shutdown (ESD)

4. Position Measurement

4.1 Measurement of Vessel's Position

4.2 System Settings

4.3 Signal Processing and PRS Tests

4.3.1 Freeze Test

4.3.2 Variance Test and Weighting

4.3.3 Prediction Test

4.3.4 Divergence Test

4.3.5 Median Test

4.3.6 Example of PRS Weighting

4.4 Common Factor Failure

4.5 Position Coordinate System

5. Principles of Dynamic Positioning

5.1 Methods of Positioning

5.2 The Model

5.2.1 Motion Model of Vessel

5.2.2 Kalman Filter and Model

5.2.3 Example of Model Update.

5.3 Error Compensation Force

5.4 Power Overload Control

5.5 Dynamic Positioning Process

5.5.1 DP System Control Loop

5.5.2 Quick Current (Fast Learn)

5.5.3 Gain Control

5.5.4 Model Control

5.6 Modelling Errors

5.6.1 Thruster Demand/Feedback Error

5.6.2 Wind Sensor Error

5.6.3 Wave Drift Forces

5.6.4 Wind Shadow

6. Position Keeping Capability

6.1 DP Capability

6.2 DP Footprint Plots

6.3 Consequence Analysis

6.4 DP Capability Plot

6.4.1 Most Loaded Thruster

6.5 Drift-off Calculations

7. Power System

7.1 Components of Power System

7.2 Propulsion Systems

7.3 Power Generation

7.4 Switchboards

7.5 Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS)

7.6 Alternative Energy Storage
7.7 Power Management System
7.7.1 Scope of a Power Management System

7.7.2 Functions of a Power management System

8. Guidelines for Vessels and Units with Dynamic Positioning (DP) Systems (MSC.1/Circ.1580)


1. General

1.1 Purpose

1.2 Definitions

2. Equipment Classes

3. Functional Requirements

3.1 General

3.2 Power system

3.3 Thruster system

3.4 DP Control System

3.4.1 General

3.4.2 Computers

3.4.3 Position reference system

3.4.4 Vessel Sensors

3.5 Cables and piping systems

3.6 Requirements for essential non-DP systems

3.7 Independent joystick system

4. Operational Requirements

5. Surveys, Testing and Dynamic Positioning Verification Acceptance Document (DPVAD)

6. Training

9. Risk Assessment

9.1 Definitions

9.2 Hazard Analysis Techniques

9.3 The Risk Assessment

9.3.1 Procedure

9.3.2 Hazard Identification

9.3.3 Risk Analysis

9.3.4 Risk Mitigation

9.3.5 Record of Findings

9.3.6 Review of the Risk Assessment

9.4 Risk Environment in DP Operations

9.4.1 Hazards - DP Operations

9.4.2 Escalating Factors

9.5 Bow-Tie Analysis

10. DP Operational Planning

10.1 The Scope

10.2 Risk Analysis

10.3 Class Requirement

10.4 DP Status Alert Levels

10.5 Operational Activity Planning

10.5.1 Critical Activity Mode of Operation (CAMO)

10.5.2 Task Appropriate Model (TAM)

10.5.3 Activity-Specific Operating Guidelines (ASOG)

10.6 DP Capability

10.7 Positional Information

10.8 Weather

10.9 Power Generation and Distribution

10.10 Position Reference Systems

10.11 Operation in Shallow Waters and Strong Currents

10.12 SIMOPS (Simultaneous Operations)

10.13 DP Vessels Operating in Proximity

10.14 DP Operations near Floating Objects

10.15 Communication, Alarms and Warnings

10.16 DP Planned Maintenance

10.17 Blackout Recovery Drill

10.18 DP Operations Manual

10.19 Bridge Management

10.20 Management of Change (MOC)

10.21 Documentation and Records

10.22 Training and Competence

10.23 DP Emergency Drills

10.24 Human Factors

10.25 DP Station Keeping Events

11. DP Operation and Contingency Planning

11.1 Entering an Oil Field

11.2 Safe Working Heading

11.3 Safe Separation Distance

11.4 Safe Location

11.5 Approaching the Worksite

11.6 DP Watchkeeping

11.6.1 Parameters to be Monitored

11.6.2 Functional Controls

11.6.3 Warning and Alarm Limits

11.6.4 DP Watchkeeping Handovers

11.6.5 Data Logkeeping

11.7 Movement of Vessel in DP Mode

11.8 Joystick Handling

11.9 Manual Handling in an Emergency

11.10 Action During Blackout

11.11 Contingency Planning

11.12 Abandoning DP Operation

Part II – Equipment

12. Differential GNSS

12.1 Global Positioning System (GPS)

12.1.1 Sources of Error – GPS

12.1.2 Differential Correction

12.1.3 Limitations on DGPS

12.1.4 Use of two DGPSs simultaneously


12.3 Differential Absolute and Relative Positioning System (DARPS)

12.4 VERIPOS Inertial-aided GNSS (Verify Axiom)

13. FANBEAM and CyScan


13.2 CyScan

14. Artemis

14.1 Principle of Operation

14.2 Multi-unit Operation

14.3 Operational Considerations

15. Taut Wire

15.1 Taut Wire Operation

15.2 Operational Considerations

15.3 Developments

15.4 Advantages

15.5 Limitations

16. RADius and RadaScan Systems

16.1 RADius

16.2 RadaScan

17. HPR and HAIN Systems

17.1 Underwater Acoustics

17.2 Transducer

17.3 Transponder

17.4 Methods of Positioning

17.4.1 Long Base Line (LBL) Positioning

17.4.2 Multi-User LBL (MULBL) Positioning

17.4.3 Short Base Line (SBL) Positioning

17.4.4 Super Short Base Line (SSBL) Positioning

17.4.5 LUSBL (LBL-USBL) Positioning

17.5 Applications of HPR

17.6 Operational Limitations of HPR System

17.7 Hydroacoustic Aided Inertial Navigation (HAIN) System

17.7.1 Principles of Inertial Navigation

17.7.2 Advantages

18. Sensors - Gyro, MRU and Wind Sensor

18.1 Gyrocompass

18.2 Motion Reference Unit/Vertical Reference Unit

18.3 Wind Sensor

18.4 Other Sensors

19. Thruster System

19.1 Factors Affecting Thrust Capability

19.2 Thruster Failure Modes

19.2.1 Hydraulic Failure

19.2.2 Electrical Failure

19.3 Thruster Failure Modes

19.4 Dealing with Thruster Failure

19.5 Isolation of a Faulty Thruster

19.6 System Checks

Part III – Trials, Tests and Failures

20. Surveys, Trials and Checks

20.1 Surveys

20.2 FMEA and FMECA

20.2.1 Uses

20.2.2 The Objectives

20.2.3 Scope

20.3 Single Point Failure and Redundancy Criteria

20.3.1 Failure Modes and Effects

20.3.2 Common Mode Failure

20.3.3 Common Cause Failure

20.3.4 Hidden Failures

20.3.5 FMEA Tests

20.3.6 Software FMEA

20.4 The FMEA Objectives

20.5 Concerns

20.6 FMEA Proving Trials

20.7 Annual DP Trials

20.8 Minor Upgrades and Modifications

20.9 Hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) Testing

20.10 Dynamic Positioning Verification Acceptance Document (DPVAD)

20.11 Trials and Checks

20.12 Common Marine Inspection Document (CMID)

20.13 Offshore Vessel Inspection Database (OVID)

21. Failures, Emergencies and Incidents.

21.1 Trends and Analyses of DP Incidents

21.1.1 Position Reference Systems

21.1.2 Computer and Systemic Failures

21.1.3 Model Instability

21.1.4 Thrusters

21.1.5 Power

21.1.6 Sensors

21.1.7 Joystick

21.1.8 Human Error

21.2 Offshore Incidents

21.2.1 DSV Bibby Topaz Incident

21.2.2 OSV Incident in the US Outer Continental Shelf

Part IV – Roles of DP Vessels

22. Diving Operations

22.1 Operational Considerations

22.2 Safety in Diving Operation

22.3 Responsibilities of Personnel

22.4 Planning a Diving Operation

22.5 DP Status Alert Levels

22.6 Communications

22.7 Vessel Movement Limitations

22.8 Diver's Umbilical Safety

22.9 Time to Safely Terminate

22.10 Resumption of Diving Activities

22.11 Diving Operations in Shallow Water

22.12 DSVs Operating in Close Proximity

22.13 Diving Operations within an Anchor Pattern

22.14 Lifting/ROV Operations during Diving

22.15 Hyperbaric Evacuation

23. Offshore Drilling Operations

23.1 Offshore Drilling Process

23.2 Blowout Prevention

23.3 Emergency Disconnection

23.4 DP Status Alert Levels

23.5 Work-over and Completions

23.6 Communication

23.7 Operational Problems during Drilling

24. ROV Support Operations

24.1 ROV Design and Classification

24.2 ROV Support Vessel

24.3 ROV Operational Planning

24.3.1 Environmental Conditions Affecting ROV Operation

24.3.2 ROV Operations in the Vicinity of Divers

24.3.3 ROV Operations in the Vicinity of Pipelines

25. Pipe Lay and Cable Lay Operation

25.1 Pipe Lay Operation

25.1.1 Pipe Lay Methods

25.1.2 Pipe Lay Procedures

25.1.3 Bridge and DP Operation

25.1.4 Pipe Lay Surveys

25.2 Cable Lay Operation

25.3 Trenching/Ploughing Operation

26. Anchor Handling Operations

26.1 Operational Considerations

26.2 Vessel Handling

26.3 Anchor Handling Operation for MODUs

26.4 Towing Operation

26.5 Working with Jack-up Rigs

27. Crane Vessel and Heavy Lift Operations

27.1 Crane Vessels

27.2 Planning a Lifting Operation

27.3 Heavy-lift Barges

28. FPSO and Shuttle Tanker Operations

28.1 Floating Production, Storage and Offloading

28.1.1 Mooring Systems

28.1.2 Operation in Weather Vaning Mode

28.1.3 Single-Point Mooring (SPM)

28.1.4 Offshore Loading System (OLS)

28.1.5 Single Anchor Loading (SAL)

28.1.6 Floating Loading Tower/Platform

28.1.7 Tandem Loading

28.1.8 Submerged Turret Loading (STL)

28.1.9 Emergency Disconnect

28.2 Shuttle Tankers

28.3 Operations

29. Dredging, Rock Dumping and Accommodation Vessels

29.1 Dredging Vessels

29.2 Rock Dumping Vessels

29.3 Accommodation Vessels

29.3.1 Gangway Alerts

29.3.2 Operations

Glossary and Abbreviations

Guidance Relating to DP Operations

International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA)

Marine Technology Society (Dynamic Positioning Committee)

DNV-GL Rules and Standards


Capt KC Shukla started his offshore career on diving support vessels (DSVs) in 1999 and continued until 2008, at various offshore oil fields in India, the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Mexico.


He joined C-MAR Group in 2008 as DP faculty and continued until 2016, at C-MAR Group training centres in Singapore, London and Mumbai. During this period, he was actively involved in improvement of the DP curriculum and authored the ‘Advanced DP Manual’ for DPO courses. He has been active in voicing his concern towards improving competence and safety in DP operations through various international forums.


Capt Shukla continues to be visiting DP faculty for C-MAR Asia Singapore, Korean Maritime and Ocean University, Busan and MT – MarineTechnologies Center, Singapore. Capt Shukla is a graduate from the Defence Services Staff College. In his earlier career with the Indian Navy,from 1976 to 1999, he held various sea appointments and faculty positions at the School for Maritime Warfare and Tactics, Gunnery School and the Centre for Leadership and Behavioural Studies (C-LABS), andcommanded the anti-submarine frigate ‘INS Dunagiri’.

Title: Dynamic Positioning: Theory & Practices
Number of Pages: 200
Product Code: WS1440K
ISBN: ISBN 13: 978-1-85609-629-4 (9781856096294), ISBN 10: 1-85609-629-7 (1856096297)
Published Date: October 2017

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