SatMeS: Satellite-based Analysis of Ocean Currents for the Reduction of Fuel Oil Consumption

Seafarers have always been aware of their importance: Ocean currents may lead a ship off the course but also increase its speed – if the vessel is able to effectively take advantage of them as in some areas ocean currents can achieve speeds of up to five knots. Since the middle of the 20th century, data concerning this matter have been collected systematically and exchanged on an international scale between the hydrographic agencies. Neglected for a long time, ocean currents regain importance today – as a consequence of rising fuel costs and climate change. This is where the project SatMeS comes into play: By applying the latest satellite technology, the analysis of ocean currents is supposed to be improved and exploited for navigation in an optimal way, in order to reduce fuel consumption and environmentally harmful emissions.

To be capable of considering the different ocean currents for route planning at sea the best possible way, a kind of “counselling service” will be developed within the SatMeS project, which announces in what way data derived from high resolution and weather-independent radar satellites can be used to predict ocean currents. Together with meteorological and sea state models, the data is supposed to provide precise information systems and to forecast services.

So far, only global atlases mapping ocean currents are used in ship routing. These atlases are based on empirical data as well as on punctual measurements and thus are imprecise. By employing high resolution satellites, the data will be available in a significantly improved quality.

Beluga Shipping supports the project with up-to-date measurements of ocean currents and, in that way, helps to calibrate the system that is to be developed. The relevant data is obtained directly from the “Voyage Data Recorder” (VDR) of the respective ship.

Applicant/Project coordinator: Gauss mbH – Environmental Protection and Safety in Shipping

Project partners: Beluga Shipping GmbH, Carl Büttner GmbH & Co. KG, German Tanker Shipping GmbH & Co. KG, Team Ship Management GmbH & Co. KG
Funding: European Union, Bremen’s Support Program for Applied Environmental Research

Project period: 01/02/2009 – 31/01/2011


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EUROPÄISCHE UNION: Investition in Ihre Zukunft - Europäischer Fonds für regionale Entwicklung