32 Types Of Navigation Instruments Used Onboard Ship


For a century, Ship’s crew had to take help of unconventional ways to plan and navigate a voyage at sea. Due to advancement of technology, the ship today is equipped with several advanced navigation equipment system that provides accurate voyage data.

In this article, we have enlisted different types of navigational equipment used onboard modern ships:

  1. Gyro Compass- It is used for finding the right direction. Unlike ordinary compasses, it does not get affected by an external magnetic field. It is used to find the true north which is more useful than the magnetic north for navigation.
  1. Radar- Radar is a device used to detect or measure the distance between the ship and other floating devices like other ships or even land. . It is a rotating antenna which discovers the surrounding area of the ship.
  1. Magnetic Compass- Magnetic compass is a navigation device used to find the magnetic north direction with the help of the earth’s magnetic field. The compass has a rotating needle which points towards the north.
  1. Auto Pilot- An autopilot is a system that is used to keep a ship on a set course without any person needing to intervene. An autopilot can relieve the crew of a ship from the task of steering the ship, which allows them to concentrate on broad aspects of the operation.
  1. ARPA- An ARPA is an Automatic Radar Plotting Aid system that is used for creating tracks with the use of radar contacts. This system can calculate the course, speed and the closest point of approach (CPA) of a tracked object and helps to determine if the ship is in danger of colliding with another large object like an iceberg, another ship or a landmass. 
  1. ATR- An ATA is an Automatic Tracking Aid which is quite similar to an Automatic Radar Plotting Aid.  It displays the information about the tracked objects in the form of numbers or graphics. This helps in creating a planned layout to make the course collision free. 
  1. Speed And Distance Log Device- Speed and distance log device is a piece of navigation equipment used for measuring the speed and distance that the ship travels from a particular reference point. 
  1. Eco Sounder- Echo sounder is a device which is used to measure the depth of water below a ship by the transmission of sound waves into the water.
  1. Electronic Chart Display Information System- An Electronic Chart Display and Information System or an ECDIS is a geographic system of information. This system makes it easy for the crew of a ship to pinpoint different locations and get directions more easily than using the conventional nautical charts.
  1.  AIS- An Automatic Identification System or AIS is a system that automatically tracks the location and other statistics of ships. An AIS transmit and receive messages between ships with the help of VHF radio channels.
  1. LRIT- Long range identification and tracking or LRIT is a system designated International Maritime Organization (IMO) system designed to collect and disseminate vessel position information received from IMO member States ships that are subject to the SOLAS.
  1. Rudder Angle Indicator- A Rudder Angle Indicator is a device which is used to determine the current position of the rudder blade. It is installed in the control house of the bridge. The bridge provides a display to control the rate of the rudder angle of the ship.
  1. Voyage Data Recorder- Voyage Data Recorder or a VDR is a data recording system which is installed in the ship to records the important events related to its operations. It also has an in-built voice recording and records the information for a period of at least the last 12 hours. This device is useful at times of accidents of ships.
  1. Rate Of Turn Indicator- ROTI indicates the rate at which a ship is turning in degrees per minute. It basically shows how fast a ship is turning.
  1. GPS Receiver- Global Positioning System receiver is a system which is used to display the location of the ship by using Global Positioning Satellites. The device is used to display the position of the ship on a map and as well as offer directions.
  1. Sound Reception System- A sound reception system is a navigational aid that enables an officer to hear a sound signal coming from outside of a completely enclosed bridge.
  1. Navigational Lights- They are sources of illumination on any vessel or aircraft. They provide a good idea about a ship’s position and status.
  1. Ship Whistle- A whistle can provide prolonged blast at appropriate time intervals. The whistle should be both manually and electrically operational from the bridge. Ship’s whistle or horn helps in alerting the nearby vessels.
  1. Daylight Signalling Lamp- A Daylight Signalling Lamp is a device used for lights signaling at the time of emergencies during the time of the day. 
  1. Pilot Card- Pilot card is a booklet of information provided to the pilot of the ship. It consists of information about the ship such as dimension, draught maneuvering, propulsion equipment, turning circle, etc.
  1. Voyage Plan- Voyage plan is a plan with which the ship would sail. Voyage planning is a procedure that completely describes the beginning of journey of a ship to end in detail.
  1. Forecastle Bell- Forecastle Bell is a kind of alarm that brings and provide a warning when there is fog or bad weather around the ship.
  1. Manoeuvring Booklet- Maneuvering booklet is a record of propulsion plan of a ship during maneuvering in different kinds of weather situations. It helps the pilots get an idea of how to maneuver the ship depending upon the weather conditions.
  1.  Black Ball Shape- A black ball shape is a signaling shape. It is used during the daytime. It helps a pilot to determine the characteristics of a particular vessel with different arrangements of ball shapes.
  1. Record of Navigation Activities- It is used in ships to record all the navigational activities taking place on board. The most important part of this is the log book.
  1. Record of Maintenance of Navigational Equipment- The hard copy of all the ship navigation system and equipment list must be present as records onboard ships for ready reference of port and regulatory authorities.
  1. Wheelhouse Posters- A wheelhouse poster is a poster that displays all the information about the maneuvering characteristics of the ship in detail.
  1. Transmitting Heading Device- Transmission heading device is a navigation instrument used to display the details about the true heading of any ship.
  1. Black Diamond Shape- Black diamond shape is a signal used during the day. A black diamond shape is a signal which is used to indicate that a ship is being towed.
  1. Ship Flags- Ship flags are signals with different colors and signs on them indicating the position of the ship.
  1. Marine Binoculars- The standard size of marine binoculars is 7 x 50. It means that it has 7 times magnification and the objective lenses are 50mm in diameter.
  1. Depth Sounder- Depth sounder sounds an alarm and also indicates depth when a particular depth is achieved.

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Source: marinepk.com