Safe Port Operations using EGNOS SoL Services

Background & Objectives

Many European ports will reach full capacity in the next few years. Traditionally the way to deal with this problem has been to expand and occupy more land. Increasingly, both for environmental reasons, and industrial and population density reasons, this is no longer an option.

Efficiency could be increased in ports by reducing the waiting and transit times of vessels from the port entrance to their berth, and reducing docking times. However the decline in the number of seagoing personnel, combined with the ever-increasing number of vessels in service, has led to a significant reduction in the experience of crews and an increase in accidents. Indeed according to the statistics of the classification society Det Norske Veritas, a ship is twice as likely to be involved in a serious incident today as five years ago. So while there is considerable potential for increasing efficiency in port operations, the gradual reduction of experience raises considerable safety issues.

SAFEPORT takes its cue from the aviation industry, which has addressed safety issues created by increased traffic through increasing automation and the use of sophisticated traffic management systems.


The project will interview harbour masters, pilots, traffic controllers, captains and port administrators, and conduct a technical and commercial feasibility study. The project will then develop the following:

  • an A-VTMIS, capable of actively managing all vessels in its jurisdiction. The system will use GNSS authentication mechanisms to identify and locate assets securely. Vessels will be optimally assigned berths and provably feasible failsafe paths validated using a manoeuvring model;
  • a portable pilot aid, which will exploit the EGNOS CDDS and SoL services to achieve the very high accuracy required to safely follow the guidance of the A-VTMIS and dock large vessels, and ensure the availability of a failsafe.

Both systems will be demonstrated and evaluated at Gijon and Dublin ports. This will involve real vessels following paths suggested by the A-VTMIS, and real pilots performing precision docking manoeuvres on real ships. Harbour masters, VTMIS operators and pilots will be trained in the use of the prototype, and final A-VTMIS and SafePilot applications.


The objectives of SAFEPORT are:

  • to develop and demonstrate an Active Vessel Traffic Management and Information System (A-VTMIS) to manage vessel movements within their jurisdiction. This will ensure that vessels follow safe paths and don’t collide with other ships while at the same time improving the efficiency of port operations;
  • to develop a pilot aid (SafePilot) which will ensure that harbour pilots can safely and efficiently navigate the courses provided by the A-VTMIS.

In order to achieve these objectives, the accuracy, reliability and safety of life aspects of EGNOS are critical. Additionally, the implementation of authentication mechanisms to support identification and safe recognition of assets, cargo, ships, etc. is essential for safety-related operations.

Market application: 
Rory Doyle
1 Waldergrave road
TW11 8LZ
United Kingdom
EUSPA Project Officer: 
Boris Kennes
Total Cost: 
2 750 000 €
EU Contributions: 
1 930 000 €
Project Call: 
FP7 2nd Call
Contract Number: 

Work performed & results

The Technical Feasibility Study, including full system specifications based on user requirements and suitable to act as a template for prototype creation, will be completed in month 6 and made available shortly afterward.
The first prototypes of the A-VTMIS and SafePilot are expected in month 15 and training programmes will commence with the final system being demonstrated and evaluated in month 24. During this evaluation period, the reduction in waiting time and the number of near misses will be quantified.

Photo Gallery

  • Safeport logoSafeport

The Port Authority of Gijo?n
Universities of Glasgow and Stratclyde ? The Ship Stability Research Centre
United Kingdom
Dublin Port
NEXT Ingegneria dei Sistemi S.p.A
Kongsberg Seatex SA

Updated: Dec 08, 2022