IP Products

Ship case study

by Mark Rowe

IP video management software (VMS) is installed in the Norwegian ship service ‘Hurtigruten’ with network cameras from Axis Communications. An engine room fire in 2011 prompted renovations with CCTV for safety.

Briefly, Hurtigruten is a traditional ferry service for the transportation of goods and passengers between Bergen and Kirkenes in Norway.

In September 2011 an explosive fire broke out in the engine room of one of Hurtigruten’s vessels, MS Nordlys. The passengers and crew were evacuated, but the fire caused damage to the vessel, which required five months of shipyard repairs. Nordlys was not able to re-enter service until March 2012. In connection with the renovation, it was decided to replace and modernise the communication system and infrastructure.

The consultancy firm NCMC was engaged to develop the new system standard. NCMC are consultants for maritime IT systems and act as a test centre.

Move from analogue to IP

The old infrastructure on board the MS Nordlys was based on an analogue matrix that was completely destroyed in the fire. When the new telephone cables were laid, an IP network was also installed. The old analogue CCTV cameras were replaced with IP video: network cameras from Axis Communications were installed, with XProtect Professional video management software (VMS) from Milestone Systems.

Idar Floe, CEO of NCMC, said: “The total surveillance solution is very good because Axis has cameras that fit into many different environments, and Milestone’s software is flexible, reliable and easy to use. My objective is always to find the state-of-the-art, and the Axis/Milestone combination provides this.”

Installing IP networks on board ships can be a challenge since they move all the time. If you want to have contact with shore, you risk interruption when the vessel moves. On MS Nordlys this was solved by using three network technologies that back each other up. This guarantees contact with the control rooms in ports.

“By using a common IT-based standard for the infrastructure, this solution can also be implemented on other ships. It is then easier for the control rooms on shore to communicate with the ships in service,” says Floe.


Essential ship operations benefit from using the surveillance: guest reception, the retail shop, unloading and loading, wharf landings, the car deck traffic, the bridge overview and the engine room all represent task areas for the crew, who gain better performance and safety from the video monitoring.

Video from the engine room helps the engineers on board to make sure that everything is in proper working order. Monitoring also aids safety for the crew in the engine room; colleagues elsewhere on the ship can be alerted if something happens requiring fast response. The camera installed on the mast also lets the captain see the colour of the engine smoke that could signal a fire has broken out below.

“The image quality from the Axis cameras is very high. We have also benefited greatly from Milestone’s solution. It provides an overview and control that is easy and intuitive to use, as well as providing improved safety for the passengers,” says Ole Johan Andreassen, captain of MS Nordlys.

Hurtigruten may add more cameras, and the Milestone open platform can expand as needed to manage this. The company is also looking at intelligent video analytics: ‘people counting’ is an integration that can be beneficial in emergencies.

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