Located on the lower reaches of the Guadalquivir River, in the city of Seville, this commercial river port is the only one in Spain with these characteristics. With an access channel of more than 80 kilometres and a modern lock, the port allows the entrance of big merchant vessels and cruises. The largest vessels allowed so far have been passenger ships up to 200 meters and bulk carriers up to 190 meters.
The maximum draught of the river is 7.20 meters and the most demanding manoeuvres in terms of accuracy are the ones carried out to cross the so-called “Puente de las Delicias” with a width of 42 meters and the lock, with a width of 40 meters. The limited width and authorised draught of the access channel, together with the increasingly large vessels that require entry to the port, make the pilot’s work even more necessary. Pilots in the Port of Seville are very conscious of the benefits that new technologies can bring to their pilotage operations, that’s why they started using Portable Pilot Units (PPUs) three years ago, when big vessels started requiring access to this inland port. Now, they use PPUs in other situations as well, for instance when facing bad weather conditions or to support anchoring manoeuvres at night.
PPUs are basically tools to be carried onboard vessels by the pilots in order to support the decision making process when navigating in confined waters. PPUs can be considered as a more advanced version of the vessel’s ECDIS1, which provide the pilot with updated and high density navigation charts, traffic management and ship-handling tools.
In the Port of Seville, pilots use a unit from AD Navigation which can be configured in different functional modes and is able to use different sources of corrections over GPS. Carlos de Bricio, who is the pilot responsible for new technologies in this port, is in favour of the use of EGNOS corrections which are considered of great benefit in specific situations, such as the entrance and navigation through the lock or in docking and turning manoeuvres. When configured to apply EGNOS corrections, this PPU achieves an accuracy of 50 centimetres, perfectly fitting the increasingly demanding accurate positon information of larger ships with the associated manoeuvring difficulties. The use of EGNOS is in line with the recommendations of the IMPA Guidelines on the design and use of Portable Pilot Units. These guidelines recommend differential corrected positioning devices, either by GBAS or SBAS, as the minimum to provide enhanced accuracy in the positioning.
1Electronic Chart Display and Information System